Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Blueberry Pancakes

Rachel made these blueberry pancakes for us the other morning, a really good way to start the day. I posted 'American breakfast pancakes' in March, so refer back to the entry for the recipe, then just add some fresh blueberries to the pancakes as they are cooking in the pan. Top with maple or golden syrup. 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Tuscan Tomato Salad

This salad could be served along side any meal or even as a meal on it's own. I made it to accompany the summer vegetable lasagne. It's also from 'Jamie's 30 mintue meals'.

Tuscan Tomato Salad
Serves 6

a ciabatta loaf

olive oil to drizzle
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds (I didn't use these)
some oregano or rosemary (fresh or dried)
1 tablespoon of capers
half a tin of anchovies
a small bunch of basil
6 jarred red peppers
1 clove of garlic
a few big handfuls of cherry tomatoes and about 3 large tomatoes
red wine vinegar

Firstly, make the croutons, tear the ciabatta into chunks, drizzle it with olive oil, salt and pepper, the fennel seeds and the oregano/rosemary, mix so the chunks are all coated, then grill for about 10 minutes or until golden. Once they're done, take them out and place in a bowl for later.
On a large chopping board, roughly chop together the capers, anchovies, most of the basil, the peppers and crushed garlic, then add the tomatoes and chop it all together. Sweep it all up and add it to the big bowl with the croutons pour over a big swig of red wine vinegar, some oil and some salt and pepper. Squish and squeeze everything with your hands. Top with the rest of the basil leaves and some freshly grated parmesan. To make the salad in advance, keep the croutons separate until ready to serve or they will go soggy.

Summer vegetable lasagne

A Jamie Oliver 30 minute meal took me at least an hour and a half last night. I was doubling the recipe so there was more chopping and preparing involved. The end result was worth it, Steve said it was the nicest vegetarian meal he had ever had, a compliment indeed. It wasn't the most child friendly of meals due to the large amount of green vegetables in it, but due to the fact we had 10 people to feed I didn't want to have to cook two seperate meals. I served this with a really good Tomato Salad, (see entry above)

Serves 6 - 8 
A bunch of spring onions
½ a 30g tin of anchovies in oil
6 cloves of garlic
700g asparagus
500g frozen peas
300g frozen broad beans
Large bunch of fresh mint
300ml single cream
1 lemon
300ml vegetable stock
500g cottage cheese
2 x 250g packs of fresh lasagne sheets 
Parmesan cheese
Fresh thyme (or a pinch of dried thyme)

Boil the kettle.
Pour the oil from the anchovies into a large frying pan and place on a medium heat. Finely slice the spring onions and half of the anchovies and then add them to the pan.
Crush the six cloves of garlic into the pan and fry for a few minutes ensuring that the garlic doesn’t burn.
Trim the pointed tips off the asparagus and put aside, then trim the woody ends from the other side and discard. Finely slice the stems of the asparagus and add the stems to the pan, adding a splash of water from the kettle. Keep stirring so nothing catches.
After a few minutes, add the peas and broad beans along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well.
Pick and roughly chop up the mint leaves then add them to the saucepan along with the cream. Grate in the zest of half a lemon.
After a few minutes, use a potato masher to mash some of the filling to create texture. Cover with the vegetable stock and bring to the boil before adding 250g of cottage cheese.
Give everything a good stir and cook for a few more minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Take the vegetables off the heat and spoon around one quarter of the mixture into a large roasting tray approx 30cm x 35cm deep dish. Top with a lasagne sheet and a generous grating of parmesan cheese.
Repeat the layers of vegetable and lasagne sheets until you have used all of the filling and then top with a final sheet.
Mix the remaining 250g of cottage cheese with a splash of boiled water and then spread over the lasagne.
Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus tips and fry in the empty frying pan before placing them onto the lasagne. Sprinkle over the thyme along with another good grating of parmesan and a final drizzle of olive oil.
Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes until the topping has browned.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Paprika lamb burgers with aioli

Good old Tesco delivered a shop 5 minutes after we got back from our holiday yesterday. I did a quick order the night before and ordered some lamb mince, red onions and bread rolls with the idea of making some lamb burgers. I knew I would have some other ingredients at home to add to them. I found this recipe on the BBC Good Food site. 

Serves 4
450g minced lamb
1 red onion, ½ grated, ½ sliced
½ small bunch parsley, chopped (I didn't have this)
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
pinch dried chilli flakes (optional)
4 tbsp mayonnaise
½ garlic clove, crushed
4 crusty rolls
1 beef tomato , sliced
Little Gem lettuce leaves, to serve

Put the first six ingredients, except the onion slices, in a bowl with lots of seasoning. Mix together with your hands, then form into four burgers. Mix the mayo with the garlic to make aïoli. Fry the burgers for 4-5 minutes on each side until cooked through but juicy.
Layer the rolls with lettuce, burgers, onion slices and tomato and a big dollop of aïoli.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Summer Pudding

What could be more English than this gorgeous dessert?  Unfortunately I can't take the credit for this wonderful dessert we had yesterday lunch time. I asked my friend Karen if it was ok to photograph her's and write about it. I made it for a dinner party a few weeks ago and when it came to turning it out of the bowl it all stuck to the sides. It still tasted wonderful but wouldn't have looked great on a photograph. The recipe states to use fresh fruit but frozen fruits work equally as well. Substitute the fresh fruit with approx 800g of frozen summer fruits (left to defrost). This is one of Delias classic recipes from 'The complete illustrated cookery course'.

Serves 6 - 8
225g redurrants
110g blackcurrants
450g raspberries
150g caster sugar
7-8 medium slices white bread from a large loaf

You will also need a 1½ pint (850 ml) pudding basin, lightly buttered.


Separate the redcurrants and blackcurrants from their stalks by holding the tip of each stalk firmly between finger and thumb and sliding it between the prongs of a fork pushing the fork downwards, so pulling off the berries as it goes. Rinse all the fruits, picking out any raspberries that look at all musty.
Place the fruits with the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat and let them cook for about 3-5 minutes, only until the sugar has dissolved and the juices begin to run – don't overcook and so spoil the fresh flavour. Now remove the fruit from the heat, and line the pudding basin with the slices of bread, overlapping them and sealing well by pressing the edges together. Fill in any gaps with small pieces of bread, so that no juice can get through when you add the fruit.
Pour the fruit and juice in (except for about two thirds of a cupful), then cover the pudding with another slice of bread. Then place a small plate or saucer (one that will fit exactly inside the rim of the bowl) on top, and on top of that place a 3 lb or 4 lb (1.3 kg or 1.8 kg) weight, and leave in the fridge overnight.
Just before serving the pudding, turn it out on to a large serving dish and spoon the reserved juice all over, to soak any bits of bread that still look white. Serve cut into wedges, with a bowl of thick cream on the table.

Travels to Paris

Some good food, some ok food and some damn right terrible food in Paris. Macaroons seem to be the thing of the moment, I'm going to have a go at making them soon, though how you get the lovely colours and flavours I don't know. 


Sunday, 12 August 2012

Tuna arrabbiata pasta gratin

We go away tomorrow, so stocks tonight were low, very low. This meal I consider to be very much a store cupboard meal. I used half a packet of large shell shaped pasta which has been hanging around in my cupboard for at least a year, maybe even two.  If I did this again I would use pasta penne. As usual I find a recipe, realise I am missing half the ingredients but stick some other things in instead. I used red onion instead of peppers and didn't have any olives (very unusual for me). I used up some ricotta cheese by just dolloping on some spoonfuls before I sprinkled on the parmesan and breadcrumbs. I stuck mine in the oven for about 20 mins to cook on 180C. I won't be posting anything for a while as I'm off on my holidays. Hopefully I'll get some inspiration from restaurants in Paris. This recipe is from good old BBC Goodfood.

Serves 4
1 tsp olive oil
1 red and 1 yellow pepper , deseeded and sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
pinch crushed dried chillies
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
50g mixed pitted olives, whole or roughly chopped (optional)
pinch caster sugar
250g wholemeal pasta shapes (this is for the healthy option)
2 x 200g cans tuna in spring water, drained and flaked
25g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
2 tbsp grated Parmesan

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the peppers for about 5 mins until starting to caramelise. Add the garlic and chillies, cook for 30 secs, then tip in the tomatoes and olives (if using). Season, add a pinch of sugar, bring to the boil, then simmer, uncovered, for 10 mins.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to pack instructions. Heat the grill. Drain the pasta and mix into the tomato sauce, along with the tuna. Tip into a large ovenproof dish. Mix the breadcrumbs and Parmesan together and scatter over the top. Grill for 3-4 mins or until the topping is crisp and golden. Serve with a green salad, if you like.

Make it veggie: Spicy pepper pasta gratin

Fry an extra red and yellow pepper as before, and add an extra 1-2 pinches chilli flakes to the sauce. Stir in 1 tbsp drained capers instead of the tuna with the pasta, and top with the breadcrumbs mixed with 2 tbsp grated Parmesan and 1 tbsp pine nuts.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Guilt free chocolate cake

This cake is gluten free and does not have butter, so it's a good one if you need to fulfill dietary requirements. I didn't make the ricotta icing to go with it and found it a wee bit dry. It would have been nice with some sort of liqueur drizzled through it or the addtion of the icing. Although with some ice cream and strawberries it made a very nice dessert. Unfortunately my friend couldn't try it because it had eggs in, and had to make do with just the strawberries on their own. This recipe is from Annie Bell "In my Kitchen". I think I prefer Chocolate cake that comes with the guilt factor, but a nice one to know about.


1, 20cm tin with a removable base, lined with greaseproof paper
4 medium eggs, separated
150g golden caster sugar
3 tablespoons good-quality cocoa powder, sifted
225g ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder, sifted
Butter, for greasing

Ricotta Cream
2 x 250g tubs of ricotta, drained of any liquid
3 tablespoons honey
4 tbsp coarsely grated 85% cocoa solids dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180C and butter a 20cm springform cake tin with a removable base.
Stiffly whisk the egg whites in a medium bowl, a hand-held electric beater is ideal. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Fold the egg whites into the egg mixture in thirds, then fold in the cocoa, the ground almonds, and baking powder.
Transfer the cake mixture to the prepared pan, smooth the surface, and bake it for 35 minutes until the sponge has begun to shrink from the sides and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and leave it to cool in the pan.
For the filling, place the ricotta and honey in a food processor and blend until smooth (if you do this by hand, it will remain grainy). Remove the collar from the cake, but you can leave it on the bottom for ease of serving. Slit the cake in half, taking into account the height in the center of the cake. Reserving a couple of tablespoons of the ricotta cream, spread the rest over the bottom and sandwich the top half. Spread the reserved cream in a thin layer over the surface of the cake and scatter over the grated chocolate, which should conceal all but the very edge of the cream. Set aside in a cool place.
If keeping the cake longer than a few hours, cover, chill, and bring it back up to room temperature for 30 t 60 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Chicken with a creamy tarragon sauce

I based this meal on a recipe from BBC Good food website. As usual I didn't have the right ingredients, so I substituted the asparagus for mushrooms and fresh tarragon for dried tarragon.  I remembered about my fondness for tarragon sauce after a lovely meal at a family wedding at the weekend. The food was exceptional at the Black Swan in Helmsley, North Yorkshire.

Serves 4
500g baby new potatoes, halved
4 skinless Chicken breasts
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
350ml chicken stock
small bunch tarragon (dried was fine)
A handful of button mushrooms, chopped

3 tbsp reduced-fat crème fraîche

Cook the potatoes in a large pan of boiling water for 8-10 mins until tender, then drain and keep warm in the pan. Season the chicken with ground black pepper. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Gently fry the chicken with the onion and garlic for 5 mins until both are lightly browned. Turn over the chicken once and stir the onion regularly.
Pour over the stock, add 2 sprigs of tarragon and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 5 mins, then turn the chicken, add the asparagus and cook for 3 mins more. Chop the remaining tarragon.
Stir the crème fraîche and tarragon into the pan with the chicken and heat through, stirring, for a few secs. Serve with the new potatoes.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Tavuk izgara (chargrilled chicken with yoghurt and spices)

This dish from turkey appealed to me in Olive magazine this month. Relatively simple to do and wonderful flavours. I served it with some toasted pitta bread and some natural yogurt. The kids put mayonnaise on theirs. I was not happy with that. The only thing to say is that when I was frying the chicken I had to keep pouring off the juices, so try to really shake off the marinade before frying. I started it in a frying pan, then finished with the griddle to get the chargrilled flavours.

Serves 2
6 skinless chicken thighs
1 lemon, half juiced and half cut into wedges
1 clove garlic crushed
ginger finely grated to make 1tbsp
cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
1 tsp dried mint (I used some fresh mint leaves)
flat leaf parsley, 1 bunch leaves picked (I didn't have any)
black olives ,2 handfuls

Toss the chicken thighs with the lemon juice and season well. Mix the yoghurt, garlic, ginger,cumin and mint. Add the thighs and coat them leave them to marinade for an hour.
Hat a BBQ or griddle pan until hot. Shake off the excess marinade from the chicken then cook for 3 -4 mins each side or until cooked through. Serve on a platter, scattered with parsley, the olives and lemon wedges.

Roast tomato tart with fresh mozzarella and pesto

I'm back again, returned from a short break in the Lakes with my lovely sister and family. Never a dull moment as usual, with lots of funny moments and mishaps. Jo cooked the roasted pepper dish (see February entry) one night, but added tomatoes, aubergine, anchovies, red onion and garlic. She used halloumi cheese instead of feta. It was delicious. Last night I cooked the recipe on the front of Olive Magazine this month. Rachel couldn't believe how easy it was to prepare and how good it tasted. It is similar to the goats cheese and tomato tart that I have blogged in the past, but I loved the addition of the fresh pesto.

Serves 4
375g puff pastry (ready rolled make it even quicker)
1 egg beaten
50g parmesan grated
12-14 tomatoes sliced
1 ball of mozzarella torn into pieces
2 tbsp of fresh pesto mixed with a squeeze of lemon (available in tesco)

Heat the oven to 200C. Unroll the pastry sheet and roll a little to make it a few centimetres  larger, keeping the rectangular shape.
Score a very thin border (about 1 cm) in from the edge. Glaze the border with the egg and scatter the Parmesan inside the border. Top with the tomato slices, overlapping so they cover the whole base.
Season well then bake for 20-25 mins until the pastry is crisp and golden and the tomatoes have caramelised a bit.
To serve scatter over the mozzarella then drizzle with the pesto.