Saturday, 28 July 2012

Spaghetti with a creamy and lemony sauce

This dish is light in flavour, tastes summery, and extremely high in calories I should think, but very delicious. I didn't plan it but had the ingredients in, pasta, lemon, eggs and parmesan. I didn't follow a recipe, it is based on a Nigella Lawson recipe, so it's bound to be calorific. Although it doesn't look like the most exciting meal there were clean plates all around. 

Serves 4
dried spaghetti 
3 egg yolks
salt and pepper
single cream (however much you fancy)
a good handful of freshly grated parmesan
juice and zest of 1 large lemon

Cook the spaghetti as per packet instructions. Mix together the eggs yolks, parmesan, lemon juice, zest and cream and season well. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain and add the sauce coating all the strands of spaghetti in the sauce. Keep on the hob, so the egg will cook slightly. Serve with grated parmesan and some black pepper. 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Hummingbird Bakery vanilla cupcakes

The sun wasn't shining, but it was warm enough to take food down to our local park tonight with family and friends. I cooked some sausages in the oven and took some buns and ketchup for the kids. For the adults, a pesto rice salad which never fails to please. Due to the lack of anything treaty in the house I made some lovely cupcakes to take with us. Generally this is the recipe I use now if I want to make cupcakes. Do forgive the bright yellow icing.


Makes 12
120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1½ tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120ml whole milk
1 egg
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 quantity vanilla frosting
Hundreds and thousands or other edible sprinkles, to decorate

A 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with paper cases

Preheat the oven to 170C.
Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a free-standing electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a hand-held electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.
Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not overmix.
Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched.
A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the vanilla frosting (see next recipe) on top and decorate with hundreds and thousands.

Vanilla frosting;
Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes.
250g icing sugar, sifted
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
25ml whole milk
A couple of drops of vanilla extract

Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a free-standing electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a hand-held electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.
Turn the mixer down to slow speed. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time.
Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed.
Beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.

Chicken with a peanut satay sauce

This lovely recipe we had for dinner last night was given to me by my cousin last time we met for lunch. Jill shares my love of good easy food. I wasn't sure of the quantities for the satay sauce, but the amounts I used seemed to work well. I was feeding 5 of us last night but I'm sure we could have eaten the quantities below between four. Chicken breasts would work equally as well.

Serves 4
2 packs of boneless and skinless chicken thighs, flattened out (packs,approx 450g each)
4 big dollops of peanut butter (I used crunchy)
4 dollops of sweet chilli sauce
4 tablespoons of soy sauce
juice of a lime

Mix together the peanut butter, sweet chilli, sauce soy sauce and lime juice. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan, preferably with a lid. Brown the chicken for a few minutes on each side then add the satay sauce. Stir around in the pan to coat the chicken, then leave until the chicken is cooked through (covered with lid if possible). The chicken started to go a lovely golden colour. Taste, and add more of any of the ingredients if you feel it needs more sauce. The chicken thighs are probably more tasty than chicken breasts for this meal.
Serve with udon noodles or rice.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Chorizo hash with poached eggs

I didn't have much in the fridge tonight, but luckily I did have the ingredients to make this rather tasty supper. The chorizo was left over from a previous meal, it's always a good standby ingredient as it does last for a while. Actually I wish somebody had made me this brunch this morning, it would have been a good hangover cure. I used dried chilli flakes instead of a fresh chilli, and served the meal on top of rocket as I didn't have any parsley.  I love frying chorizo, it coats whatever you are frying with it with the flavorsome oil. This was a meal I found tonight on BBC Goodfood. Maybe a recipe for Elaine to try in Spain if she's managing to follow my blog whilst holidaying out there.

Serves 2

300g new potatoes, quartered
Olive oil
40g chorizo, cut into strips
1 red chilli, finely chopped
½ a small bunch parsley, chopped
2 eggs, 

Boil the potatoes until tender, drain and cool. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry, turning over until golden and crisp. Add the chorizo and chilli and fry for another 3-4 minutes until chorizo is crisp. Season then stir through the parsley.
Serve the potatoes topped with poached eggs.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Maple and pepper glazed chicken with roasted carrots

A lovely meal to follow a very emotional day at James leavers assembly at school. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who was crying before it started, as Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of all" was playing whilst showing photos of all the year six children. I have to go through it all again tomorrow in a church service too. This is a recipe from Olive magazine a couple of years ago, bulk it out with some new or roast potatoes. I wish I'd done more roasted carrots they are so tasty.

3 carrots , quartered
olive oil
2 small, skinless chicken breasts
1 garlic clove, sliced
½ tbsp black peppercorns , coarsely ground
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp maple syrup
100ml chicken stock

Heat the oven to 200C/fan. Toss the carrots in 2 tsp oil and season. Roast for 20-25 minutes until tender. Flatten the fat part of the chicken under some baking paper. The side of a rolling pin works well, or a heavy tin. Season the chicken.
Drizzle a non-stick frying pan with a little olive oil and put over a medium heat. Brown the chicken on both sides for a couple of minutes until golden, then remove. Add the garlic and pepper and cook for a minute. Add the vinegar and deglaze the pan. Add the maple syrup and stock, and simmer until syrupy, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken back to the pan and cook for another 5-6 minutes, turning to cook in the glaze. Serve with the carrots.

Baked tomato and courgette risotto

This recipe comes from a cookbook I don't use that often but browse through regularly, Bill Grangers 'Bills food'.  His philosophy on cooking is "eating with friends and family should be a pleasure and that food for all occasions can be prepared simply, without stress, ensuring the cook enjoys the occasion as much as the guests do." I like and believe that philosophy. I was tired and hungry last night after attending an after school event, but found this meal easy to prepare and very satisfying.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
180 g (1 cup) arborio rice
375 ml (1½ cups) chicken stock or water
400 g (14 oz) can chopped Roma (plum) tomatoes
3 courgettes, finely sliced
60 g freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Shavings of Parmesan, for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200°C . Heat a 3 litre (12 cup) capacity ovenproof dish (with a lid) over a medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion and sea salt and stir for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the rice to the dish and stir for another minute.

Add the stock or water and the chopped tomatoes and bring to simmering point. Stir in the courgette and sprinkle with Parmesan and black pepper. Cover the dish and bake the risotto for 30 minutes, or until the rice is cooked. Scatter parsley over the top, sprinkle with Parmesan shavings if desired, and serve in the dish.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Lemon syrup loaf cake

I feel like I have been away from blogging for a while. An Indian takeaway and a picnic have been on the agenda this weekend. A break in the rain provided a perfect day at a music festival yesterday with the children. A very civilised one day fesival, none of this camping and muddy fields thank you very much. I'm way too old for that. Anyway it's back to normal today, pouring with rain.  I have baked my favourite Lemon Cake to take up to school for a leaving party for one of the teachers. It's a recipe from Nigella Lawsons  "How to be a domestic Goddess'.

125g softened butter
175g caster sugar
2 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon (preferably unwaxed)
175g self-raising flour
4 tbsp milk

for the syrup:
juice of the lemon
75g icing sugar

Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin (23x13x7cm) with baking parchment - this is a very moist and sticky cake. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.
Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy and then add the eggs and then lemon zest, beating them in well. Add the flour and fold in gently but thoroughly until well mixed. Add the 4 tbsp milk and mix well.  Transfer the mixture into the tin and smooth the surface. Place in the oven.

While the cake is cooking, make the syrup. Place the lemon juice and icing sugar into a small pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves.
When the cake is cooked (45 minutes or so until golden and risen in the middle with a cake tester/skewer coming out clean ) stab the cake repeatedly, all over the surface and right down into the cake. Carefully pour the syrup mixture over the cake, trying to make sure that some is absorbed in the middle of the cake, rather than just running down to the edges of the tin. Leave in the tin until completely cold, then carefully remove and slice.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Pizza with Parma Ham, Olives and mozzarella cheese

I have posted something similar in the past, but if you are new to blog, you may not have scrolled back through the older recipes. Tonight I made pizza dough in the bread maker. I tried to prove it in the microwave and ended up with lots of hard and crusty bits in the dough. I persevered with it and just flattened it out on a large baking tray and hoped for the best. It was so tasty.
If you don't have a bread maker you could make the dough by hand, buy a ready made base or packet mix. I just spread tomato puree on the base, topped that with a packet of parma ham, added some black olives and a really good sprinkling of cheddar cheese. Then sliced a packet of mozzarella and baked for about 20 minutes at 200C, until bubbling and golden. Dominos eat your heart out.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Balsamic roasted sausages with red veg

I'll make this dish again when I've got more time. I was in such a rush tonight and ate it too quickly without really savouring the flavours. The sausages could have done with a little more cooking too. I accompanied the dish with chickpeas which I heated up and added some rocket, seasoning, balsamic vinegar and olive oil to. We mopped up the lovely sweet and tangy juices with some crusty bread. I could eat it again now infact. A very easy midweek meal. I found the recipe on the GoodFood site by entering a variety of ingredients that I had in the fridge.

Serves 4
3 red onions, cut into wedges
3 red peppers, deseeded and cut into quarters
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
8 sausages (I used 12 chipolatas)
250g cherry tomatoes
few sprigs of thyme (optional)
1 tbsp clear honey

Heat oven to 200C. Put the onions and peppers in a roasting tin, drizzle over the oil and vinegar and season well. Roast for 10 mins. (Oh, I didn't read that bit)
Nestle the sausages, tomatoes and thyme, if using, in and around the veg, drizzle over the honey and cook for 25 mins more or so, turning the sausages halfway, until the sausages are cooked and everything is golden and sticky. Serve with mustard mash or crusty bread.

Chocolate and Banana cupcakes

I wanted to make something to take to a friends house tonight. These cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery Cook book appealed to me as I had some bananas to use up. 

I have added this note afterwards. Having eaten a whole cake last night I found them far too sweet. If I made them again I would reduce the amount of sugar that went into the cake. The topping is nicely sweet but the cake was too much. Maybe half the amount of caster sugar as 140g does seem quite excessive.

  • Ingredients
    Makes 12

    120 g plain flour
    140 g caster sugar
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    a pinch of salt
    80 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
    120 ml whole milk
    2 eggs
    120 g peeled banana, mashed

For the chocolate frosting;
300 g icing sugar, sifted
100 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
40 g cocoa powder, sifted
40 ml whole milk

40 g dark chocolate, grated into shavings
You will need a 12-hole cupcake/yorkshire pudding tray, lined with paper cases.
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.
Slowly pour the milk into the flour mixture, beating well until all the ingredients are well mixed.
Add the eggs and beat well (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Stir in the mashed banana by hand until evenly dispersed.
Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched.
Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
To make the chocolate frosting, beat the icing sugar, butter and cocoa powder 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.
Turn the mixer down to slow speed. Add the milk to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time. Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed.
Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.
When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the chocolate frosting on top and finish with the chocolate shavings.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Beef, ale and mushroom pie

This is not a meal that I would normally do in the middle of summer. However today it's my dad's birthday and I was cooking him lunch and this is one of his favourites. Afterwards Steve said it was the tastiest pie he has ever eaten. The recipe is from Olive magazine a couple of months ago. 

Serves 6 
1.5kg braising steak or stewing steak, trimmed and cut into chunks 
3 onions cut into thin wedges (I just used one large one)
2 garlic cloves crushed 
2 sprigs of fresh Thyme (I used dried)
500g mushrooms 
400ml dark ale 
500g shortcrust pastry (I used a ready made one, which was 375g) 
Olive oil 
Salt and pepper 
1 egg beaten

Heat the oven to 170c Heat the oil in a large casserole dish, fry the meat in batches until browned. Remove the meat from the pan. Fry the onions until golden, remove the onions from the pan, and add the mushrooms to cook slightly. Put everything back into the casserole dish, add the thyme, garlic and flour and stir. Gradually add the dark ale, and bring to a simmer. Season. Cover and cook for 2 hours until the meat is tender. Take out of the oven and leave the cool. Turn up the oven to 190C. Put the meat into a pie dish, cover with the pastry. Decorate the top with any leftover trimmings, then brush with a beaten egg. Cook in the oven for 30-40 mins, until crisp and golden.


If I have a signature dish, this is it. I can't think of another dessert that looks quite as elegant. Piled high with cream and strawberries it never fails to look impressive. I do find them easy to do, and yesterday I made a couple to take to a friends birthday party. The trick is to make them early and leave them to cool completely in the oven. This will avoid cracking to a certain extent. The thing is it doesn't matter if it does crack a little, the topping and fruit can easliy disguise this.

Serve 6-8
3 large egg whites
175g caster sugar
275 ml double or whipping cream
350g of fruit of your choice
A little icing sugar
Heat the oven to 150C.
Place the egg whites in a large clean bowl and have the sugar measured and ready. Now whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and you can turn the bowl upside down without them sliding out (it's very important, though, not to over-whisk the egg whites because, if you do, they will start to collapse).
When they're ready, start to whisk in the sugar, approximately approx 25 g at a time, whisking after each addition until all the sugar is in. Now take a metal tablespoon and spoon the meringue mixture on to the prepared baking sheet, forming a circle about 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter.
Then spoon round blobs next to each other so that they join up to form a circle all around the edge. Now, using the tip of a skewer, make little swirls in the meringue all round the edge, lifting the skewer up sharply each time to leave tiny peaks. Now place the baking sheet in the oven, then immediately turn down the heat to 140°C and leave it to cook for 1 hour.
Then turn the heat right off but leave the Pavlova inside the oven until it's completely cold. An idea would be to make a Pavlova in the evening and leave it in the turned-off oven overnight to dry out. To serve the Pavlova, lift it from the baking sheet, peel off the paper and place it on a serving dish. Then just before serving, spread the whipped cream on top, arrange the fruit on top of the cream and dust with a little sifted icing sugar. Serve cut into wedges.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Coconut chicken and rice one-pot

The word 'one-pot' sprung out of the Olive magazine at me this month. I like the sound of less mess when I'm cooking. It's a bit like a Thai chicken curry without the sauce but with all the flavour.

Serves 4
400ml of half fat coconut milk ( I used full fat)
200ml chicken stock
1 stalk of lemon grass, with the outer leaves removed
6 skinless chicken thigh fillets, quartered
250g basmati rice
half a bunch of spring onions, shredded
2 green chillies, shredded
coriander to sprinkle on top

Put the coconut milk, chicken stock, ginger and lemon grass in a wide shallow pan with a lid. Bring to a simmer then cook for 5 minutes with a lid on.
Take off the lid, add the chicken and rice. Stir then bring back to a simmer. Turn the heat right down, put the lid back on and leave for 15-20 minutes until all the stock is absorbed and rice tender. Fluff up the rice and then scatter over the onions, chillies and coriander to serve.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The Ivy's Salmon Fishcakes

I might have enjoyed these fishcakes last night, had I not been in the middle of a sibling crisis as I was cooking them. By the time I sat down to eat them I had no appetite what so ever. Thankfully I saved some for lunch today and realised how very tasty indeed they were.

Serves 4
800g potatoes
650 g salmon fillets, boneless, skin on
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tsp anchovy sauce, ( I couldn't get this, so I substituted it with an anchovy relish)
3 tsp English Mustard
2 tbsp olive oil
Plain flour, to dust

Peel the potatoes and cut them into bite sized chunks. Cook them for 10 mins until the potatoes are cooked through. Drain and leave to steam dry for 10 mins.
Put the salmon in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring up to a gentle simmer and cook for 7 min, or until the fish flakes easily when pressed with a knife. Lift the fish out of the water and set aside to cool. Peel off and discard the skin. Flake the fish.
Mash the potatoes, add half the flaked salmon, the ketchup, anchovy sauce, mustard and some seasoning and mash until smooth. Fold in the remaining salmon keeping the flakes as large as possible.
Divide the mix into eight and form each portion into a round patty. Arrange on a board, cover with clingfilm and chill for 20 mins.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Lightly dust the fishcakes on both sides with flour and lightly brown on both sides in the pan. Arrange the browned fishcakes on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 10-15 mins until piping hot.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake

There really isn't anything difficult about this lovely rich chocolate cake. It's ideal for a dinner party as it can be made in advance and serves a large number of people. It's light and really moist, almost squidgy in the middle if you get the timing just right. It's a recipe from 'Nigellas Kitchen'.

Serves 8 - 10
150g dark chocolate, chopped
150g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
6 eggs
250g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
4 teaspoons best-quality cocoa powder, sifted 
zest and juice 1 lime
icing sugar, to dust (optional)
1 x 23cm springform or other round cake tin

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4, line the base of your cake tin with baking parchment and butter the sides.
Melt the chocolate and butter together either in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water, or in a microwave (following manufacturer’s instructions), then set aside to cool slightly.
Beat the eggs and sugar together until about tripled in volume, pale and moussy. I use a freestanding mixer, but a hand-held electric model would be just fine too.
Mix the ground almonds with the cocoa powder and fold this gently into the egg and sugar mixture, followed by the slightly cooled chocolate and butter. Finally, fold in the zest and juice of your lime. Folding gently will keep the air in and give the cake it's lightness.
Pour and scrape this mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 40–45 minutes (though start to check at 35); the cake will be just firm on top, but still have a bit of wobble underneath.
Remove from the oven and sit the cake in its tin on a wire rack to cool. Once the first heat has left it, drape a clean tea towel over the cake to stop it getting too crusty, though a cracked and cratered surface is to be expected.
When cold, unmould, dust with icing sugar.