Saturday, 30 June 2012

Ginger, Lime and Coriander Chicken

Before I go any further let me just say this is a food recommendation not a recipe. It's a ready meal from Marks and Spencer's which I think is really delicious and I'm not sure I could even make it for the price. Usually I find they are on special offer, 3 packs for £10. Great to have in the freezer for a standby meal. They are raw chicken breasts with just the right mix of lime juice, coriander and ginger and you can just bung them in the oven for 20 minutes and serve with noodles. Good for those nights when time is tight or you just don't want to cook. One pack would serve 2 people.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Giant Prawn Spring rolls

This meal requires a little effort and is certainly not something I would do as an everyday meal. However tonight I wanted to do a special meal for my family as I won't see them around my birthday due to holidays. I found the recipe while glancing through my mum's copy of Good Housekeeping this month. I have changed it slightly to make it easier. I doubled the recipe tonight for 6 of us.
Serves 4

1 tbspn of vegetable oil, plus extra to brush
1 tsp of chinese 5 spice
1 onion, thinly spiced
250g mushrooms, sliced
1 bag of stir fry vegetables, (carrots, bean sprouts, savoy cabbage)
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp oyster sauce
200g cooked prawns
8 sheets filo pastry
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp honey

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium heat and fry chinese 5 spice for 10 sec, then add the onion and cook for 5 min until slightly coloured. Add the mushrooms and cook for further 8 mins, the add the pack of stir fried vegetables for about 3 mins.
Meanwhile in a small bowl stir together 1 tbsp soy sauce with the cornflour to make a paste and then stir in the oyster sauce . Add the mixture to the vegetable pan with the cooked prawns. Cook for 1 min, then tip into a large roasting tray to cool.

Heat the oven to 200C. Keep any filo pastry you are not working with covered to stop it drying out. Brush a sheet of filo with some of the remaining oil, then fold the sheet in half to make a square. Put an eighth of the filling in a thick line along the left edge leaving a 4 cm space above and below the top and bottom of the filling. Fold the top and bottom edges of the pastry over the filling, then roll the filling up in the pastry. Put on to a baking tray and brush with a little more oil and sprinkle over some sesame seeds. Repeat the process with the remaining and filling.
Cook the spring rolls for 15-20 mins until golden.
Combine the remaining soy sauce, honey and water with some sesame seeds to make a dipping sauce. Serve the spring rolls with the dipping sauce and steamed vegetables or rice.

You can make make these in advance and keep cool until ready to cook.

Little Frangipane Tarts

If you can get hold of these little ready made pastry cases, these tarts make such a special and quick dessert. I have bought them in our local garden centre farm shop and also in the food hall in Fenwicks. The pastry cases I buy are quite shallow, so the mix below make 9 tarts. They are delicious warm from the oven but equally as nice when cold. The recipe is from 'Jamie's 30 minute meals'. I have done them time and time again, but obviously not for a while now. Long overdue I think. 

Serve 6
6 small deep short crust pastry cases
1 egg
100g ground almonds
100g softened butter
90g golden caster sugar
1 orange
1 teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract
good quality raspberry jam
tub of creme fraiche to serve 

Heat the oven to 190ÂșC
Put the 6 pastry cases on a baking tray. Make the frangipane mixture by cracking the egg into mixing bowl and adding the almonds, butter and golden caster sugar. Grate over the zest of half an orange and add the vanilla paste or extract. Use a spoon to mix everything together. 

Spoon a small amount of jam in to each pastry case. Top with a heaped teaspoon of frangipane, add another small teaspoon of jam, then finally another heaped teaspoon of frangipane. (if like me, you just have the shallow cases just put a dollop of jam in the bottom and a dollop of frangipane on top). Put the tray in the oven on the middle shelf and set the timer for 18 mins exactly. When the tarts are golden and cooked, turn off the oven and take them out. Serve them warm, with a dollop of creme fraiche on the side.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Farfalle with carbonara and peas

This recipe from Jamie Oliver's, 'Jamie's Dinners', is a slight variation on the classic carbonara dish. The fresh mint with the peas added a nice twist. I used pasta penne, I don't suppose it matters which variety of pasta you use.

Serves 4
455g farfalle pasta
1 egg
100ml double cream
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 rashes of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, roughly sliced
3 handfuls of fresh podded or frozen peas
2 sprigs of fresh mint, leaves picked
2 handfuls of freshly grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the farfalle and cook according to the packet instructions. Whisk the egg in a bowl with the cream, salt and pepper. Put your pancetta or bacon into a second pan and cook until crispy and golden.
When the farfalle is nearly cooked, add the peas for the last minute and a half. This way they will burst in your mouth and be lovely and sweet. When cooked, drain in a colander, saving a little of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the pancetta and stir in most of the mint, finely sliced - if the pan isn't big enough, mix it all together in a warmed bowl.
Now you need to add the egg and cream mix to the pasta. What's important here is that you add it while the pasta is steaming hot. This way the residual heat from the pasta will cook the egg, but make sure they do not resemble scrambled eggs. The egg will actually cook enough to give you a silk smooth sauce. Toss together and loosen with a little of the reserved cooking water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parmesan and the rest of the mint leaves and serve as soon as possible.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Hummingbird Bakery Carrot Cake

Now thats what I call a cake. Three layers of moist and light loveliness. I substituted the walnuts for sultanas and made a buttercream icing with butter, icing sugar and a little squeezed lemon juice. We couldn't wait for the cake to cool thoroughly before icing it, so it was still warm when we ate it. I don't think it will last very long, although a little slice was plenty.

you will need 3, 20cm cake tins, lined with greaseproof paper
300g Soft Light Brown Sugar
3 Eggs
300ml Sunflower Oil
300g Plain Flour
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon, plus extra to decorate
½ tsp Ground Ginger
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Vanilla Extract
300g Carrots, grated
100g Shelled Walnuts/ Pecans, chopped, plus extra, chopped and whole, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.
Put the sugar, eggs and oil in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Slowly add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla extract and continue to beat until well mixed.
Stir in the grated carrots and walnuts with a spoon, then pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
When the cake is cold, spread over the cream cheese icing.
Finish with chopped walnuts and a light sprinkling of cinnamon.

Cream cheese frosting
300g icing sugar, sifted
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g cream cheese, cold

Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.

Super speedy noodles with pork and ginger

I watched 'Gok cooks Chinese' on the tv the other evening as was inspired to try this dish which looked extremely quick and simple.  I had to go to a chinese supermarket to get some shrimp paste but all of the other ingredients are available in the supermarkets. It was really lovely and easy to do, the only thing I found was it was quite greasy. This could have been the shrimp paste as it had alot of oil in it, or it could have been the sesame oil I sprinkled on top.  I"m going to make it again for the kids tonight as they had pizza last night and I'll leave out the sesame oil and see if that improves it. I did eat it with lots of soy sauce sprinkled on too.

Serves 4

300-400g pork fillet or tenderloin, cut into strips
Salt and ground white pepper
Neutral oil such as groundnut, for frying
3cm knob of ginger, peeled and julienned
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ - 1 tbsp Chinese shrimp paste (replace with 1 tbsp dried shrimp, soaked and ground if unavailable) – use more if you like a stronger taste
½ - 1 tbsp light soy sauce, or to taste
½ - 1 tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
400g fresh thin egg noodles (I just pre-cooked dried egg noodles)
1 carrot, peeled and finely julienned (I used a vegetable peeler to get really thin strips)
2 spring onions, trimmed and finely julienned
Sesame oil
Roughly chopped coriander, to garnish

Add the strips of pork to a hot, oiled wok and stir-fry over a medium high heat. Season and cook until the pork is sealed but not quite cooked through, about 45 seconds. Remove and set to one side.
Reheat the wok over a high heat and add a dash of oil. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 20 seconds until softened a little. Add the shrimp paste (or soaked ground dried shrimp is using) and continue to stir-fry until aromatic – about 2 minutes.
Add a glug of water to create a sauce. Add the soy sauce and fish sauce (you may not need the fish sauce, depending on how strong your brand of fish paste is) and cook for 10 seconds then adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Separate the noodles and toss through the wok for a minute to warm through and coat in the sauce. Then add the pork and stir through quickly to warm. Once warm, remove from the heat and garnish with the raw carrot and spring onion. Season with a couple of drops of sesame oil and serve garnished with roughly chopped coriander

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Chicken stuffed with Goats cheese and wrapped in Prosciutto

I challenge anyone to find this meal difficult. It's the first time I have tried goats cheese with chicken and it worked really well, especially with the roasted cherry tomatoes. It was just a case of using up some goats cheese I had in the fridge and the result was really good.

Serves 4
olive oil
4 chicken breasts
75g of soft goats cheese, chopped into 4 pieces
4 slices of prosciutto
a pack of cherry tomatoes or a similar variety
salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 180C. Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken breasts until just starting to go golden. Remove from the pan and on a chopping board cut a pocket in the side of the breasts and stuff with some goats cheese. Wrap the ham around the chicken breast and place in a roasting tray, surrounded by the cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the tomatoes are nicely cooked. Serve with a green salad and the juices from the roasting dish.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Lasagne al forno

Last night I had one of those 'Why do I bother moments'. I bought a minced beef pie from Marks and Spencer and served it with tinned mushy peas. Rachel said "mmmn this is my favourite meal" while lavishly piling mint sauce on. Undeterred today I made Lasagna for Fathers Day Lunch, I think she enjoyed last nights tea more but the rest of us cleared out plates. I'm going to put a link to the recipe on delias website. It's such a long recipe to write out. I see it's another recipe that Delia has updated since the original Version in the 'Complete Illustrated Cookery Course' book, which I followed today. I used 1kg of minced beef, bacon instead of pancetta and I didn't use mozarella. I cooked the ragu on the stove 25 minutes with a lid and 25 minutes without a lid, the recipe now states to slow cook the sauce in the oven for 4 hours. Nice if you have the time but not necessary.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Keema patties with chickpea and yoghurt salad

"Keema is an Indian dish made with mince meat - these patties have similar flavourings and make a spicy alternative to burgers". (extract from Olive Magazine)
This versatile chickpea salad would go well with most meats, nice for a summer salad at a bbq, or just with pitta bread or naan bread for a light lunch. It's a recipe from July edition Olive Magazine.

Serves 2

300g lean lamb mince
a small bunch of coriander chopped
half a red onion grated
half tsp all spice
1 tsp garam masala
half tsp turmeric
half tsp ginger grated
naans to serve
mango chutney to serve
ground nut oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
400g chickpeas
4 tbsp of yoghurt
half a red onion sliced
small bunch of coriander chopped

Put the mince, coriander, onions, chilli, spices and ginger in a bowl with lots of seasoning then mix really well with your hands. Season and form into approx 10 small flat patties
To make the salad, heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Cook until the seeds start to pop and become fragrant. Tip in the chickpeas and season well. Stir around for a couple of minutes and take off the heat.
Fry the patties in a separate non stick pan until browned and cooked through. (you should  not need extra fat)
Put the yoghurt and red onion in a bowl and tip in the cooled chickpeas and spices. Toss the add the coriander and toss again. Serve with the patties, warm naan breads and mango chutney

Friday, 15 June 2012

Asparagus Soup

Yet another green soup. I used to think that I didn't like asparagus, that was because I had only ever tried the tinned variety, which is vile. Then I was served fresh asparagus with butter and freshly grated parmesan as a starter and realised that it is so delicious and far removed from the tinned version. I remember being in Spain ordering aspagargus wrapped in ham in a restaurant and when it arrived it was tinned asparagus with processed ham. I mean come on, processed ham in the land of Serrano ham. I don't think I could even eat it. This recipe is from a new magazine called "Landscape". 

Serves 4  (only 2 in our case today)
500g asparagus
50g butter or margarine
1 onion, finely chopped
500ml vegetable stock
250ml milk
150ml creme fraiche (I omitted this)
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp lemon juice

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and cut into pieces. Heat the fat and sweat the onion for about 6 mins, adding the asparagus for the last 3 mins. Remove a few of the asparagus pieces to garnish and put them to one side. Add the stock and the milk. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 mins. Puree with a hand blender. Stir in the creme fraiche , the sugar and the lemon and season.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Ginger Ale and Elderflower cordial with fresh mint and lemongrass

We went out for a celebration lunch to a friends house on Sunday and not only was the food really lovely, (cooked and served effortlessly by a very elegant host catering for 40 or so people), there were also some really great non-alcoholic drinks for the drivers amongst us. I adore white wine and know that I drink far more than I should according to all these government guidelines, so I'm happy to find a drink that I might enjoy nearly as much as wine. This refreshing summery drink is a really good non-alcoholic alternative. I'm not sure of the amounts that my friend used, but tonight I just added some elderflower cordial (you could use sparkling elderflower) to the ginger ale, added some fresh mint leaves and chilled with some ice cubes. Unfortunately I didn't have any fresh lemongrass, but the addition of it would have enhanced the flavour. A great idea for any summer parties that you may have coming up.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

The first time I had this meal cooked for me was in a tiny little kitchen on a sail boat on the Norfolk broads, that was about 14 years ago. Since then it has become a one of my trusty favourites. Surprising that I haven't done this meal before now then. It is another recipe from the great Delia herself from The Complete Illustrated cookery course. Now I see she has updated the recipe to use pancetta and cream but I still follow the original recipe. The recipe below is for two, I just increase the spaghetti and bacon for four of us.

Serves 2 
225g spaghetti
110g streaky bacon, chopped 
2 large eggs and 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese ( I used more)
salt and freshly milled black pepper
extra parmesan to serve

Cook the pasta according to the packet in a saucepan of boiling water to which a bit of olive oil has been added. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the bacon until the fat starts to run. While all this is happening, whisk the eggs and the egg yolk in a bowl, adding some freshly milled black pepper and the Parmesan cheese.
Drain the pasta when cooked and return it to the hot saucepan - away from the heat though. Now quickly and deftly, stir in the beaten eggs and the bacon (plus, the oil it was cooked in) and keep stirring to coat the pasta with the liquid egg, which will soon cook from the heat of the saucepan and turn slightly granular. Serve on really hot plates with lots of Parmesan cheese to sprinkle over.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Harissa spiced chickpeas with halloumi and spinach

I have had a weekend of being treated to some lovely food at family and friends houses. This is a meal I cooked on Friday night, when I really didn't feel too well and didn't really feel like cooking. However it was pretty effortless and really tasted good. It may sound like a strange mixture of ingredients but I can assure you it's a really great combination. I didn't make it for the children, they had a pizza night instead, although I remember them enjoying it on a previous occasion. This is from a great book called 'no-fuss suppers', by Caroline Marson.

Serves 2
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 garlic Clove, crushed
1 tablespoon of harissa paste
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
150 g halloumi cheese chopped into cubes
100g spinach
400g tin of chickpeas,
salt and freshly ground pepper
juice of half a lemon 
parmesan cheese to serve 

Pour the oil into a large pan and gently saute the onion and garlic until softened. Add the harissa paste, chickpeas, and chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil and let simmer for five minutes.

Add the halloumi cheese and spinach, cover, and cook over low heat for a further 5 minutes. Season to taste and stir in the lemon juice. Spoon onto serving plates and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately with a crisp green side salad.

If you don't have harissa paste, you can make your own by mixing together half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon of ground cumin, 1 tablespoon of tomato puree and the freshly squeezed juice of a lime

Friday, 8 June 2012

Durham's got Talent

I'm a bit preoccupied today and cooking has taken a back seat. I entered my son James into the 'Durham's Got Talent' contest with his lovely piano playing, he has made it through to the 20 semi finalists.  Now it's up to the public to vote for their favourite. If he get's to the final 10 he'll get to play to an audience of 500 people at the Gala Theatre in Durham.
Have a look at his video (link below) and if you like it, give him your vote, we have quite a bit of catching up to do. We took the movie at a concert he played in, he placed his music upside down by mistake, which is why he is looking sheepish at the start of the film.

By the way I'm not a pushy mother, HONEST!

Baked Camembert

This makes a really simple starter or lunch with some lovely crusty bread to dip in. Buy the camembert that comes in the wooden packaging so you can bake it in the box.

Serves 2/3
1 camembert, removed from the paper then placed back in the box.

Heat the oven to 180C. Place the camembert on a baking tray in the wooden box and  place in the oven for about 20 minutes. The cheese should be oozing by this time.

You can prick some holes in the top and pour on a little white wine and rub with garlic, it's a bit like a quick fondue.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Peaches with amaretti biscuits

This is a recipe I have adapted from baked peaches with marsala and crushed amaretti biscuits, from 'Nigella Express' cookbook. It takes minutes to make, and about 20 minutes to cook, and it's delicious.

I'll not be posting anything for the next week, I'm off on holiday with the family. I'm hoping for some sunshine, leisurely walks and of course some good food. 

Serves 4
1 can of tinned peaches
approx 125g of hard amaretti biscuits, roughly crushed

Heat the oven to 180C.
Drain the peaches of most of their juice and place in a small roasting dish.
Sprinkle the crushed biscuits over the peaches and place in the oven for about 20 minutes. Serve with some fresh cream.

Chicken Fajitas

Last night I roasted a chicken and did the pesto rice salad again (see entry in May section), a really lovely combination which went down very well with my friend and her daughter. The following recipe is a meal I did a couple of nights ago. I know you can buy the fajita kits which is a simpler way of doing this and still very nice. However as I had the salsa dip at home anyway and some tortilla wraps, I figured I could make the seasoning with the spices that I had in the cupboard.

Serves 4

olive oil
4 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 red onion, sliced
2 peppers, colour of your choice, cut into strips
4 tortilla wraps

juice of 1 lime

Fajita seasoning
2 Tbsp chilli powder
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp garlic powder (I didn't use this)
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp cayenne
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (never even seen these before)

Heat some oil in a large frying pan and fry the chicken until browning, add the peppers and the onion and fry until everything is cooked through. Add the seasoning bit by bit until you are satisfied with the flavour. Add the lime juice and mix together. Heat the tortillas for about 8 seconds in the microwave and divide the chicken mixture in each wrap. Top with some salsa, some sour cream, and fresh coriander. I also added a few jalapeno peppers for a bit of a kick.