Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Roasted cod with prosciutto, cherry tomatoes and olives

This is a meal I had for the first time at my cousins house a few years ago. I could not have left without getting the recipe. I have made it a few times since at dinner parties and have always been asked for the recipe too. The crispy salty ham is wonderful with the cod and the sweet tomatoes. I would normally accompany it with potato dauphinoise, but tonight that would have taken too long. It looks fancy and tastes wonderful, but it took 5 minutes to prepare. It can be prepared in advance and popped in the fridge until ready to use. Tonight I served it with green beans and some crusty ciabatta to mop up the lovely lemony juices. 

Serves 4
250-300g cherry tomatoes halved
50g pitted black olives
2 tbspn capers
grated rind and juice of a lemon
2 tspn of chopped thyme (I used left over rosemary)
4 tbspn of olive oil
4 cod fillets 175g each
4 slices of prosciutto
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 220C.
Combine the tomatoes, olives, capers, lemon rind, thyme and oil in a roasting tin. Season with salt and pepper. Fit the cod fillets into the tin spooning some of the tomato mixture over the fish, then scatter the prosciutto ham on top. Bake in the oven for 15 min. Remove the tin from the oven, drizzle over the lemon juice and cover with foil. Leave to rest for 5 min.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Roast chicken with roast potatoes and homemade basil pesto

It felt like the first day of spring today and I had my lunch sitting on a bench with the warm sunshine on my face. The start of things to come hopefully. Tonight, tea felt summery with a lovely basil pesto. The same recipe as the coriander pesto, substituting coriander for basil. I can't over emphasise the importance of the homemade pesto in this meal. It really does make all the difference and takes minutes to blitz in the food processor. I would say it is worth the effort of making it. I invited my parent's around for a meal, as this is such a nice meal to share. The potatoes cooking around the chicken absorb all the lovely juices and they are nearly chewy in texture, really delicious. This is a recipe from "Jamie's Dinners".

Serve 4 - 6
2kg chicken
2kg potatoes
1 lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 220C.
Parboil the potatoes with a whole lemon in the water to give some flavour. Drain the spuds, then remove the lemon and prick it with a knife a few times before pushing it inside the chicken. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and season. Then roast the chicken for 30 minutes at 220C. After the 30 minutes throw the parboiled potatoes in the tray and put the roasting tray back in the oven for an hour, until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are browned. I would say that putting the lemon in meant the chicken needed longer to cook. I would not bother in future. Remove the chicken from the oven, and leave to rest while the potatoes carry on cooking. Maybe get rid of some of the juices in the roasting tin at this stage. Serve with green salad and the delicious pesto.

Salted Nutella Tarts

I found this recipe on another food blog . Please don't look at this link as the photographs are far superior to the ones on here. Sorry Steve!
I think I overdid the salt a bit, and the kids thought I was trying to poison them, but the grownups enjoyed them. "A bit of an acquired taste" were my mums words. I used ready made little tart cases, which meant they were extremely quick to knock together. Apart from the fact I wanted to pipe on them, piping isn't my forte, but it's fun. One day I will photograph the kitchen after I have finished cooking, it's not a pretty sight.

Pastry cases
Sea Salt
Whipping cream 

Spoon the nutella into the pastry cases, sprinke with a little sea salt and add whipped cream on top. 

Monday, 27 February 2012

Homemade Beef Burgers with fries

A child friendly meal tonight as James had a friend around to play. I have recently acquired a burger press and haven't used it much, so thought it might be nice to make some burgers from scratch. I ended up using a ridiculous amount of mince and the burgers were too thick hence being slightly overdone. What was sadly lacking was a nice glass of red wine to compliment the meat. The recipe below is what I would normally have used for four of us.

Serves 4
450g or 500g pack of extra lean steak mince
half an onion chopped very finely
salt and pepper
half a teaspoon of cumin powder (optional)
an egg to bind the mixture

Add the chopped onion, cumin and salt and pepper to the mince in a mixing bowl. Add the egg and use your hands to bind all the mixture together. Make either 4 large burgers or 8 smaller burgers. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry until the burgers are cooked right through. You should be able to tell from the juices running out when the burger is cooked. I served mine with a slice of edam on top and some french fries. Much nicer than a McDonalds.  

A weekly meal plan and a shopping list

A friend in the schoolyard said this morning that she was planning to cook a week of my meals.  I'm thrilled that people are using the ideas and pleased to be helping with meal planning.  She suggested that I could maybe do a shopping list as well on the blog. So below is a guide for a weeks menu, then at a later date I could add another week.  I will include a full shopping list, so all you have to do is cook the meals and enjoy them. The list below includes ingredients for all of the meals based on a family of four. I have included prices from Tesco online, which will just be a guide, as they are the products I would chose. The total cost is under £95.00, for 7 evening meals, which is around £13.50 per meal. I realise I have chosen the meal with haddock which bumps the price up a bit because of the price of fish, but it's such a lovely meal it's worth the extra. Obviously you are not going to use everything up, so infact it's less per meal and lots of store cupboard ingredients for future meals.

Chicken with lemon and honey
Shopping List
3 packs of boneless chicken thigh fillets (2 for lemon chicken, 1 for Hunters chicken) - £10.17
2 lemons - 60p
jar of runny honey - £1.00
fresh rosemary - 80p
packet of pasta penne - 95p
pack of feta cheese - £1.42
pack of 3 large mixed peppers or 3-4 of the colour of your choice - £1.65
olive oil - £2.49
packet of salad - £1.00
4 large salmon fillets - £8.00
Roasted Peppers with pasta and feta cheese
300g of cherry tomatoes on the vine
Salmon wrapped in parma ham with vine tomatoes
2.5 kg potatoes for wedges and mash - £1.90
Pack of parma ham - £2.69
head of brocoli - £1.10
Hunters Chicken
pack of dried porcini mushrooms - £2.99
Thai Pork burger with sweet potato wedges and mango salsa
garlic - 59p
2 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes - £1.42
onions - 82p
pack of smoked bacon - £2.84
balsamic vinegar - 99p
bottle of red wine - £5.00
chilli flakes - 95p
Lean pork mince - £3.66
2 sweet potatoes - £1.00
thai red curry paste - £1.21
red onion - 18p
coriander - 80p
pack of red chillis - 65p
1 mango £1.50
a lime - 30p
500g bag of fresh spinach - £2.50
butter - £1.40
600g uncooked haddock fillets - £11.00
dijon mustard - 65p
gruyere cheese - £2.50
half fat creme fraiche - £1.19
breadcrumbs - £1.29
new potatoes - £1.35
peas - £1.25
spaghetti - £1.35
black olives £1.69
capers - £1.31
tin of anchovies - 73p
tomato puree - 48p
parmesan cheese - £4.11

Quick Smoked Haddock Gratin
Spaghetti Puttanesca

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon

This is more of a brunch really, but as we've had a busy day with all of us doing different things, it was a quick and satisfying supper. Lovely on plain bagels, or toasted muffins, good at any time of day.

Serves 2

4 Large eggs
110g smoked salmon
4 tablespoons of milk
50g butter
Salt and black pepper

Cut up the smoked salmon fairly small, then put into a jug or bowl. Pour the milk over it, stir well so that all the fish gets a good coating of milk, then leave aside to soak for 20 minutes or so ( I didn't, I was too hungry to wait) 
Melt half the butter in a small heavy based saucepan on a lowish heat and meanwhile break the eggs into a bowl. Season them with salt and pepper and beat them well.
When the butter is foaming pour in the beaten eggs. Take a wooden spoon and stir constantly. When the eggs have started to solidify, but there is still a fair amount of liquid add the smoked salmon (plus any milk they have not soaked up). Keep stirring continuously. When almost all the liquid has gone, remove the pan from the heat , add the rest of the butter and continue stirring, the eggs will finish cooking to a creamy mass in the heat of the pan.

Saturday, 25 February 2012


I'm making meringues to take to a friends special birthday party. Steve used to have a joke that I could make a pavlova before he could make his breakfast (actually I have this morning). Once you've got the knack of meringues, they are easy, and they always look so beautiful. I use Delia Smith's recipe, that can be used for individual meringues or a pavlova. I use my food mixer, but before I had this, used an electric hand whisk. 

3 large egg whites
175g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 150C
Put the egg whites into a very clean and dry mixing bowl. Make sure that there is none of the yolk in the mixture.
Whisk until very stiff, you should be able to turn the bowl upside down without the mixture moving (see photo)
Add the sugar a bit at a time and continue to whisk until the mixture is stiff and glossy and stands up in stiff peaks.

Cover a couple of large baking trays in slightly oiled greaseproof paper. Spoon on dessertspoon size amounts of the meringue mixture at equal spaces apart. Cook for one hour, then leave in the oven with the oven turned off to cool down.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Gnocchi bake with hot smoked salmon and spinach

This is really fine fast food. I don't even think it can be described as cooking, as it is so simple. I offered to cook on a girls weekend and decided to do this recipe as there was some non-meat eaters amongst us. There were 10 of us, it was the most fuss free meal I have ever made for that number of people. Half an hour in the kitchen if that, and we were all sitting down to eat. It's very rich so the portions don't have to be huge. This was yet another pull out from a sunday supplement and one I will make time and time again. Rachel, I think this one is for you, I have a feeling you will love it.

Serves 4
1 x 400g bag of young spinach
200g mascarpone cheese
zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 x 75g packet of dill (oh, I forgot this, it didn't matter)
salt and pepper
300g ready cooked salmon fillets with sweet chilli (or whatever variety you prefer)
500g fresh gnocchi
75g Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat the grill to high and bring a big pan of water to the boil with a pinch of salt.
Make 2-3 holes in the bag of spinach and microwave for 2 minutes so that it wilts. If you don't have a microwave steam the spinach.
Put the mascarpone cheese into a saucepan and add the lemon zest, juice and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Stir over a low heat until the mascarpone has melted, then add the wilted spinach and flake in the salmon. Try to keep the salmon pieces quite big.
Put the gnocchi into the pan of boiling water and cook for 3 min. A little tip being, when they come to the surface they are done. Drain and return to the saucepan and stir in the salmon sauce.

Pour into a baking dish and cover with the parmesan cheese. Grill for 3-5 min until the top bubbles and is golden brown.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Spaghetti Puttanesca

I consider this a store cupboard meal, in the absence of a fresh chilli you could use dried chilli flakes. I didn't use the amount of olives that the recipe required, as James is not a fan of olives.  The only time consuming part of the preparation was to de-stone the olives. This could be avoided by using pitted black olives instead. If you want a vegetarian version just leave out the anchovies. There is a translation for this dish "tart's spaghetti", make of that what you will.

Serve 4

400g of Spaghetti
Olive oil
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
50g of anchovies, drained
175g of pitted black olives, chopped
400g can of drained tomatoes
1 heaped tablespoon of capers
1 rounded tablespoon of tomato puree
salt and pepper
chopped basil (I had fresh flat leaf parsley and used this instead)
Parmesan cheese to serve

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the garlic, chilli and basil and cook until the garlic is a pale golden colour. Add the anchovies, olives, capers, tomato and a little black pepper. Simmer on a low heat until it has reduced to a thick sauce. While the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta in slightly salted boiling water. Drain the spaghetti and return to the saucepan. Add the sauce to the spaghetti, tossing well. Serve with the grated parmesan.

Spicy sweet potato, butternut squash and coconut soup

As the packets of prepared butternut squash and sweet potato were on special at the supermarket, I had bought a couple of them with the idea of making soup this week.  I had some of the sauce left over from last nights tea, minus the prawns, in the fridge. I added this to the soup once it had finished cooking just before pureeing.  I also used the remains of the coconut milk from last nights meal and a couple of teaspoons of the Red Thai curry paste.
This was a bit of a throw it all in and see what happens, but as I have made a similar soup from a recipe I guessed it would work. The result was a really lovely, spicy, creamy and flavoursome soup.  I'm not eating it as I'm out for lunch today, but it will keep for a couple of days and feed Steve.

Serves 4
olive oil
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 x 500g, pack of prepared sweet potato and butternut squash
750 ml of vegetable stock
200 ml or thereabouts of coconut milk
2 teaspoons of Red Thai curry paste (ground cumin and curry powder would be an alternative)
salt and Pepper to taste
A squeeze of lime juice before serving (optional but very nice)

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, fry the onion until golden, add the chopped vegetables and sweat for about 5 minutes until starting to soften, add the stock, coconut milk and red curry paste. Cover and leave to simmer for about 20 min until the vegetables are soft. Puree with a blender. Add a squeeze of lime juice just before serving. Season to taste.

Cheese Scones

I've made some cheese scones to take to a friends house for lunch. They are the same recipe as the post for "Afternoon tea and Lily's scones", with the addition of approx. 100g of strong cheddar cheese. I've just had to try one to make sure they are ok to give to friends. Straight from the oven, warm and buttered, need I say more.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Red Thai Curry with Prawn and Mango

Each time I shop now, I'll get my recipe books, or Olive Magazines and flick through and see what I fancy cooking. I think about what ingredients I already have and want to use up. Today I had some frozen mango cubes which reminded me of this very simple curry. I also had the Red Thai Curry paste left over from the Pork burgers. I used cooked King prawns which I defrosted this morning, but I will write the recipe which uses frozen raw king prawns. This is another recipe from "Nigella Express", changed very slightly. I'd forgotten how lovely it is, sweet, spicy and fresh. 

Serves 2 -4 , (I thought there was plenty for four, especially adding a bit of extra vege)

15ml wok oil (groundnut or vegetable will be fine)
1 spring onion, finely chopped ( I used a couple)
2 tablespoons of red thai curry paste, you don't have to be specific, add more if you want extra spice
200ml of coconut milk
250ml of chicken stock
2 teaspoons of fish sauce (nam pla)
1 x 350g packet of butternut squash and sweet potato cubes (I used a 500g packet, I chopped them up a bit smaller)
1 x 200g packet of frozen raw king prawns
juice of a half a lime
150g mango cubes, diced (I used a full frozen punnet about 350g, defrosted first)
coriander to serve

Heat the wok oil in a large heavy based frying pan and fry the spring onion for a minute, then add the curry paste.
Whisk in the coconut milk, chicken stock and fish sauce and bring to the boil.
Tip in the butternut squash and sweet potato cubes and cook partially covered for about 15 minutes, or until tender.
Drain the prawns under running water to remove excess ice, and add them to the pan, letting the the sauce come back to the boil. When it does add the lime juice and diced mango and cook for another minute or so until the prawns are cooked through.
Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve with plain rice of noodles

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


I wasn't sure whether to bother doing a post this evening, as tea was the simple pancake. But as this is a diary of sorts of what we eat I thought I may as well. I guess every one has their own favourite pancake recipe. I have always used the basic pancakes from Delia's "Complete Illustrated Cookery Course". I looked for some exciting fillings and then decided why try and glorify something that is just lovely as it is. I doubled the recipe below for four of us, which was more than enough.

110g plain flour
a pinch of salt
2 large eggs
200ml milk, mixed together with 75ml of water
2 tbsp melted butter
a little extra butter for cooking the pancakes

Sieve the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Then make a well in the centre and break the eggs into it. Start to whisk the eggs, incorporating the flour from around the edges as you do so. Start to add small quantities of the milk and water mixture. Continue to mix until you have a smooth batter.
When you are ready to cook the pancakes, add 2 tablespoons of melted butter to the batter and stir it in. Melt a teaspoon of butter in a pan and coat the whole pan. Tip out the excess butter. Get the pan really hot and do a test pancake. 2 tablespoons is about the right amount. It should take about half a minute to cook, you can lift the edge with a knife to see if it's cooked. Flip onto the other side and cook until tinged gold. Add your favourite topping. Nutella and banana went down well tonight.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Eton Mess

I very nearly didn't post this dessert tonight, I thought I might save it for a day when perhaps I haven't cooked anything. I felt slightly guilty at having a dessert on a school night. I did only have a tiny bit and there is some left over.  Rachel had a friend for tea at the last minute and it only seemed right to feed her well while she was here. I had cream left in the fridge from the weekend, some meringues kicking around in the cupboard and some frozen raspberries. I am not sure whether this is technically Eton Mess made with raspberries or whether it is only called that using strawberries. Either way it was very easy and very lovely. I didn't really measure the ingredients, so this is guess work.

Serves 6 - 8
300ml of double cream whipped
6 ready made meringues broken into bits
a 350g punnet of frozen or fresh raspberries

Whip the cream and fold in the raspberries and crushed meringues. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chicken stuffed with Coriander Pesto, wrapped in Prosciutto

This meal came about tonight because I wanted to make the coriander pesto, and I remember years ago having tried coriander pesto for the first time, stuffed into chicken breasts. I can't see why shop bought pesto wouldn't also work. I've also done variations of this meal using blue cheese to stuff the chicken and wrapping in bacon instead of prosciutto.  This meal doesn't need a recipe really, cut a pocket into the biggest part of the chicken breast and spoon some pesto into the hole. Wrap the prosciutto around the chicken breast, I grated on a little lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 190C for 20-25 mins until the chicken is cooked and the ham crispy.  Spoon the lovely juices over the chicken.  Once again I put some uncooked new potatoes and some raw carrots in to roast for 50 min, why bother having to peel and par-boil when these are so delicious, without the extra work. This was probably my favourite meal since I started this blog. 

Coriander Pesto

I love pesto, it's a great store cupboard ingredient. Mixed with some creme fraiche or cream and added to pasta with a sprinkling of parmesan, you have a great quick pasta meal. I don't make fresh pesto that often, but there is a lovely Jamie Oliver recipe with roast chicken, roast potatoes cooked around the chicken and fresh basil pesto. The fresh pesto adds such a special flavour, it really is worth the extra effort. It's not even difficult to make. Today I had some coriander in the fridge, so I have made some pesto with it, which I'll use in a recipe tonight. This doesn't make a huge amount, but it's enough for four of us this evening. This recipe can also be used with fresh basil. I would normally buy a large basil plant and use all the leaves, as by the time you have blitzed the leaves there's only a small amount.

Serves 4
31g bag of coriander or the leaves from a coriander plant (you don't have to be that precise in the amount you use)
a handful of toasted pine nuts
half a clove of garlic
salt and pepper 
a good handful of grated parmesan
a good glug of olive oil

I used the small bowl for my food processor, I have used a hand held blender in the past. If you don't have either of these you could use a pestle and mortar to crush the garlic and herbs.
Add the toasted pine nuts, coriander leaves, salt, pepper and garlic and blitz until smooth.
Stir in the finely grated parmesan and then the olive oil to the consistency you desire. I don't want it too runny. Season to taste. Keep in a jar until ready to use, it should keep for a few days in the fridge.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Bread maker Pizza

I certainly haven't mastered the art of pizza dough, but even though it wasn't perfect tonight this was still a way tastier pizza than anything you can buy. Probably like many people, I have a bread maker that sits for most of the time on top of the fridge unused. When I do use it I wonder why I don't make bread every day, but it's just another thing to think about. However I do use it now and again for making pizza dough. I have done that tonight, as I'm a bit fed up of cooking, also the fridge is looking a bit sparse again. I used what I had in the fridge, which is pretty much the same ingredients I used on the skinny pizza. I will get around to writing a list of ingredients I would ideally have in the fridge at all times. I happen to have olives, parma ham and sundried tomatoes alot of the time. I split the pizza dough into two pieces and rolled them out into 2 thin pizzas and left them to rise. Even easier buy ready made pizza bases and just add the toppings.

1 quantity of pizza dough split into two
tomato puree or drained chopped tomatoes
grated cheese (I used cheddar and gruyere which I had left over from the haddock dish)
Sun dried tomatoes
black olives
Parma ham torn up into pieces

Assuming you have a bread maker, make the dough according to the manual.
Roll out to the desired shape and leave to rise in a warm place or prove in the microwave.
Pre-Heat the oven to 220C.
Add the toppings
Bake for 15 min until bubbling and the dough is cooked and risen.

Slow Roasted Marmalade Pork

The meal last night was a great success. It's always a bit of a risk trying a new meal at a dinner party, but I can honestly say this was relatively simple and was met with so much enthusiasm. My friend Rachel said it was a winner recipe and along with her recipe for whole roasted new potatoes, most of the work was done before my friends arrived. The pork was really tender, very moist and with the last minute additions of the herbs, chilli and lemon, had really lovely flavours. Thank you Rachel I'll definitely do this again. I halved the Jamie Oliver recipe as the piece of Pork he suggests is huge. Any leftovers would be great in a sandwich the next day, I think we might have a wee bit left for one lucky person. That should probably be me.

Serves 8
approx 3kg neck-end shoulder of pork (boneless)
olive oil
100g of good quality fine shred orange marmalade
half a teaspoon of black pepper
1 red chilli
small bunch of mint, leaves only
small bunch of flat leaf parsley
1 lemon
sea salt

Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the pork in a large roasting tray. Using a small, sharp knife score deep incisions into the skin at 2 cm intervals, in a criss cross fashion. Drizzle over olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then rub the seasoning into the meat. Roast for about 2 hours and 30 min, or until the crackling is crispy and the meat is really tender. (I don't think you can overcook this)
Once the pork is ready, remove it from the oven, drain away the fat (or save for lovely roast potatoes at a later date). At this point remove the crackling and put it on separate baking tin in oven so it continues to crisp up. Tip the marmalade into a bowl and mix with the black pepper. Spoon this all over the pork and put back into the oven for another 30 min. You should get some lovely sticky juices with this.
Take the pork and the crackling out of the oven and leave to rest covered with foil for 30 min. Meanwhile finely slice the red chilli, roughly chop the mint and parsley leaves.
When ready to serve, shred the meat and crackling using a sharp knife and a fork. Drizzle some of the sticky cooking juices on the meat, scatter over the chill and herbs then grate over the zest of the lemon. Serve on a large platter.

The new potatoes were roasted whole, drizzled with olive oil and salted, for 40 min, then when golden brown, broken up with a potato masher. I added some chopped rosemary (forgot the garlic) and put back in the oven for 15 more minutes. These could be cooked in the same oven as the pork and turned up to 200C while the pork is resting. I guess you could even cook them around the meat, leaving some of the meat juices to coat the potatoes. Even less washing up.

Served with a green salad too.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Torta Caprese

I'm having friends around for dinner tonight, I am trying out a new main course that a friend has recommended and sent me the recipe for, I will report on that tomorrow. It's smelling really good, and the fact that I'm not in the kitchen now cooking is a good sign. The dessert tonight is something I have done a few times, it's gluten free which is a requirement tonight. I have a store of 70% dark chocolate in my cupboard. Luckily I prefer milk chocolate, so generally it's still there when I want to use it for a recipe. Ground almonds are something I stock up on now and again, a very useful ingredient. I'm going to serve dessert tonight with some fresh raspberries, and mascarpone cheese, but just cream or ice cream, even low fat yoghurt would be equally as good. Rachel got a taste test before the friends arrived. I'm thinking next week I might have to try more recipes from slimmer dinners recipe booklet. Now, I think I'd better get a move on.

Serves 10
200g of dark chocolate
4 medium eggs
170g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g ground almonds
200g butter, melted and cooled until tepid
icing sugar to serve

Line the base of a 24 cm diameter round cake tin with non-stick baking parchment and grease the sides.
Preheat the oven 170C.
Blitz the chocolate in a food processor until it is finely chopped, though still retaining a little in texture. If you don't have a processor chop finely with a large knife.
Beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla extract until the mixture is pale and moussey, and thick enough to hold a trail on it's surface when you lift the beaters. Fold in the chocolate, almonds and the butter. Spoon into a prepared cake tin and bake for 45-50 min or until just firm to touch. Leave to cool in the tin. Dust with icing sugar before serving. 

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Pasta with broccoli, anchovy, parmesan and creme fraiche

I do meal plan, and when I do a shop now I have usually decided what I am cooking for the next few days. It makes shopping much easier and food waste is much less. I hadn't planned to do this meal, but felt like we had quite alot of meat in the last few days. A nice fresh tasting pasta meal seemed to be a good option. I had the broccoli in the fridge and I usually have anchovies in my store cupboard. This is from a book called "no-fuss suppers", which was exactly what I needed after a shopping trip with Rachel which was anything but fuss free.

Serves 4
400g pasta ( I used Penne)
1 head of broccoli about 350g
1 tbsp of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp of chilli flakes
1 tin of anchovy fillets
200g of creme fraiche
salt and pepper
freshly grated parmesan to serve

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according the packet instructions. Add the broccoli to the pasta 3-4 min before the end of the cooking. Drain the pasta and the broccoli and reserve a little of the cooking water.
Wipe out the pan and add the olive oil. Cook the garlic, chilli flakes and anchovies over a low heat for about 2 min. Add the creme fraiche, season with a little pepper. Return the cooked broccoli and pasta to the pan adding a little of the reserved water if needed. Season to taste with black pepper.
Serve immediately with the parmesan cheese

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Thai Burgers with Salsa and Sweet Potato Wedges

We were one member of the family down tonight but gained four extras for tea. I had planned a meal so just had to make it stretch a little further.  Tonight's meal is so good. It's a recipe once again from Olive Magazine that I have made a few times now. There are quite a few ingredients involved but nothing that won't keep for another meal. A good excuse to do a Thai Curry with the leftover curry paste and coriander. I had no fresh coriander but used some frozen leaves in the burgers. I had some halloumi cheese in the fridge. It keeps for ages, and if you haven't already had fried halloumi cheese you must try it. Just heat some olive oil in a frying pan, chop the halloumi into small chunks and fry until brown, eat warm or cold.   

Serves 4
2 Sweet Potatoes, cut into wedges
olive oil
400g extra lean minced pork
1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 red onion, chopped finely
small bunch of coriander, chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 mango diced 
half a lime, juiced
Little Gem lettuce to serve (I did not have this)
salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 200C, place the sweet potato wedges on a baking tray, sprinkle with olive oil and salt and bake for 20-25 minutes until tender.
Meanwhile, mix together the pork, curry paste and the onion and half the coriander. Season and form into small burgers. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry for 5-6 min each side until they are cooked through.
For the mango salsa, mix the mango, chilli and the rest of the coriander and the lime juice. To serve put the burger on top of the little gem leaves and spoon over the salsa. Serve with the potato wedges.

Leek, Potato and Apple Soup

I found a way to use up the leeks lurking in the fridge, and made a nice soup for lunch.  Always a good way of using up excess or a bit past their best vegetables.

Serves 4
30g of butter
1 medium onion
4 medium leeks
1 large potato
2 apples
750 ml of vegetable bouillon stock
salt and pepper

Heat the butter in a saucepan until foaming and add the onion to cook until soft. Chop the leeks and add to the onion. Chop the potatoes into small cubes and add this to the leeks and onions and let all the vegetables sweat for a few minutes. Add the peeled and sliced apple. Add the stock, cover and simmer for 25 min or until the vegetables are soft. Puree with a blender if you want a smooth soup, add a little milk if you want a thinner consistency. I made this with a chicken stock cube and ended up adding a small amount of vegetable stock at the end to give a bit more flavour.  I would use vegetable stock next time.  Check the flavour before adding more salt. Add salt and pepper if desired.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Steak Frites

I think Steve gave up taking me out for meals on Valentines Day a long time ago. I'm a bit critical and a bit of pain when eating out. If the meal is not better than I could have cooked at home, I do go on about it a bit. I would never order fillet steak in a restaurant, I feel it is so over priced. The meat tonight was under £10 for two of us from a local farm shop and was really delicious. Also when we have steak, Steve likes to take control in the kitchen.  One of the reasons for cooking it tonight. The frites were frozen, I don't have a deep fat fryer or a chip pan, but that's fine. I don't think you could have a simpler more tasty meal dining in. It barely needs a recipe.

Take the steak out of the fridge to reach room temperature.  When you are ready to cook it, dry with kitchen paper, lightly oil the steaks (not the pan) and season well with salt and pepper. Cook on as high a heat as you can on the hob. I like medium rare, 3-4 min each side, then leave to rest covered in foil in a warm oven for 5 min. Pour the juices that have accumulated from the resting on top of the meat. 

Amaretto Syllabub

I want to have a nice meal for Valentines Day, but I don't want to spend hours cooking it. These little desserts are so quick, no cooking, just whisking. Very creamy and rich, but as I don't normally eat desserts on a regular weekday, I can have an exception tonight. The amaretto liqueur is something I have in because I have done this recipe a few times before, it will last ages and it's a lovely drink too. It reminds me of my honeymoon in Greece, the first time I tried it. This recipe is from "Nigella Express", also a great book.

Serves 4
80 ml amaretto liqueur
25g caster sugar
15 ml of lemon juice
250 ml double cream
1 x 250g packet of amaretti biscuits

Pour the amaretto liqueur into a bowl with the sugar and the lemon juice and whisk to mix.
Whisk in the double cream and whip this mixture until thickened but still soft and billowy.
Crumble 2 amaretti biscuits into each of the 4 glasses.
Divide the syllabub between the glasses, spooning it on top of the crumbled biscuits.
Crumble another biscuit or two and sprinkle this golden rubble over the top of the syllabub in each glass.

I used the soft amaretti biscuits as the recipe specified, I have changed the recipe to either. I think I would have preferred the hard biscuits in this dessert. 

Monday, 13 February 2012

Keema Curry

Today I was really short of food, the fridge is looking really bare. I need to do a shop. I do my thing where I open the fridge door, stare in for a minute, shut the door, walk away and come back again. Do the same thing again, each time hoping that I will suddenly find inspiration with a couple of mouldy leeks and some shriveled up carrots.
Luckily I had some beef mince in the freezer, and a cupboard full of spices, so tonight's meal is a really lovely meat curry.  This recipe was again given to me by my father in law Graham, it's from a book called "The Complete Book of Curries" by Harvey Day from the 1970's. I have a few variations of this recipe from Graham but this is the one I have the ingredients for tonight. If I were to have only a few spices in my cupboard, it would be cumin, coriander, ginger, chilli powder and turmeric. The basics for a good curry. As with any curry this would be great made in advance and eaten the day after to let all the flavours do their thing. I still had to pop to the shops to buy the accompaniments which make the curry even more special.

Serves 4
500g lean mince beef
2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
1 large onion finely choppped
cooking oil
tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp of tomato puree
salt and pepper
2 dessertspoon ground coriander
1 tsp of turmeric
1 tsp of ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
half tsp ground chillis (optional)
150-200g of plain yoghurt (I just used a couple of large tablespooons)
Juice of 2 limes or 1 lemon

Take a heavy deep pan with a well fitting lid. Add a couple of tbsp of oil and heat.  Add the onion and when this has started to yellow add the garlic. Stir well and continue to fry until the onion is dark brown at the edges.
Add the spices and stir them well into the oil and the onions (add a bit more oil if needed to keep the mixture liquid). Fry for 1-2 min. Add a good pinch of salt and some ground pepper and then add the meat. Stir well to mix the meat and the spices, break up any lumps and fry until all the pinkness has gone.
Add the chopped tomatoes. For a richer taste stir in the tomato puree. Add the juice of the limes or the lemon. Cover and simmer for at least 30 min. 
10-15 min before serving gently stir in the yoghurt. I had some frozen coriander leaves which I added at this point. Taste and add more salt if needed. If there is too much liquid, reduce by cooking uncovered for the final period of cooking.