Thursday, 31 January 2013

Trout Paté

Tonight, I could not be bothered to cook. James had made a pizza in cookery at school, which I reheated. With the remaining pizza base, I piled on some ham and pineapple, Rachel's favourite topping. They never complain when it's a pizza night. I had some hot smoked trout in the fridge and added some low fat natural yoghurt, some lemon juice and a good grinding of black pepper. With some toast, celery and Walkers Salt and Vinegar crisps it really hit the spot, with minimal effort. 

125g hot smoked trout
2 tablespoons of low fat naural yoghurt
juice of half a lemon
grinding of black pepper

With a fork mash the trout fillets into small bits, then add the yoghurt. Stir well, then add the lemon juice and black pepper to taste. 

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Italian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

This meal was ok, the sauce was flavoursome but somehow the meatballs were a bit dry and tasteless. I have made nicer ones in the past from a Delia Smith recipe. I won't blog the recipe as I wouldn't make it again, instead I'll just put a link to the recipe. It's another from the 'Hairy Dieters' Cookbook.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Chicken and Ham Tangle Pie

I had plenty of left over chicken from a roast chicken dinner on Sunday, so this pie was perfect to use it up. I added some mushrooms to bulk it out as I didn't have 500g of chicken, and I omitted the white wine, because if I open wine, I have to drink it. The filo pastry made a wonderfully light topping, but the pie had enough substance to be filling without piling potatoes on the side. With a name like Tangle Pie I had to give this Hairy Dieters recipe a try.

Serves 5
429 calories per serving
2 tsp sunflower oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 medium leek, trimmed and cut into thin slices
100ml white wine
150ml water
1 chicken stock cube
1kg whole cooked chicken (I used leftover chicken)
100g sliced smoked ham
2 tbsp plain flour
300g half-fat crème fraiche
freshly ground black pepper

3 sheets filo pastry, each about 38 x 30cm
1½–2½ tsp sunflower oil

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a low heat and add the onion and crushed garlic. Fry gently for 5 minutes until the onion is softened, but not coloured, stirring occasionally. Add the leek and cook for 1 minute more, stirring constantly.
Pour over the white wine and 100ml of the water. Dissolve the stock cube in the pan by squishing it with a wooden spoon. Keep simmering on a high heat and stir constantly until the liquid has reduced by about half, then remove the pan from the heat.
Strip off the skin from the chicken and tear the meat off the bones and into bite-sized pieces. Place them in a large bowl. Cut the ham into strips about 1.5cm wide and add them to the bowl. Sprinkle the flour on top and toss lightly together.
Add the onion and stock mixture, the rest of the water and the crème fraiche. Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper and stir all the ingredients together until just combined. Spoon into a 1.5-litre pie dish. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Pile the filo sheets on the work surface, one on top of the other, and divide into 9 rectangles, cutting through all the layers. Put the oil into a small bowl.
One at a time, brush each pastry rectangle lightly with a little oil and very loosely scrunch it up. You’ll need to just dip the tip of the pastry brush in the oil to make sure the oil lasts for all the pastry. Place the scrunched-up filo on top of the filling, putting the pieces close together until the surface of the pie is completely covered.
Bake the pie for 30–35 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Serve with some green vegetables – no need to add extra potatoes or rice.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Gooey Chocolate Pots

I have been reluctant to blog these gorgeous little chocolate pots as I didn't really want to give away how easy they are to make. When I have made them for other people they are always met with such enthusiasm. A rich chocolate sponge, which when cut into oozes a hot gooey chocolate sauce. They can be made in under 10 minutes, prepared in advance, cooked in 10 minutes and devoured in seconds. I think that the only person who could eat two in succession would be Rachel, who is a self confessed chocoholic.  Rachel has regularly made these by herself, they are definitely her pudding of choice. The recipe comes from Nigellas 'How to Eat', a classic cook book.

Serves 6
125g best quality dark chocolate
125g unsalted butter
3 large eggs
150g caster sugar
35g plain flour
extra butter and flour for the ramekins

You also need 6 small ramekin dishes. (The recipe says 4, but I have always made 6 smaller ones)

Put the chocolate 
and the butter in a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water to gently melt. Whisk every now and then until both are melted.
In another bowl gently whisk the eggs and stir in the sugar and flour, until just blended.
Gradually whisk the melted chocolate and butter into the egg mixture. Allow to rest.
Once you are ready to cook the pudding, heat the oven to 200ºC
Rub the insides of the ramekins with butter and dust with flour. Divide the mixture between the 6 ramekins and put them on a baking sheet.
Bake them for 10 – 12 minutes or until the tops are nearly firm and cracking a little, but you can still see a some of the soft oozing centre. Check after 10 minutes, they are definitely better under done than overdone. 

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Mini pizzas

This is a super quick pizza dough recipe from Jo Wheatley the winner of the Great British Bake off 2011. It's a programme that seems extremely popular but I haven't had the opportunity to get into it, although I have caught a few of the Comic Relief episodes. I made these for the rest of the family last night as I was eating out, but I had a little taste to check the quality of the dough and I was impressed. It seemed like a bizzare recipe, mixing self rasing flour with greek yogurt, but although a little sticky, once kneaded in some flour it was easy to work with. No need for proving and rising, so a much easier option than even making the dough in a bread maker.

300g self-raising flour
plus extra for kneading
300g Greek yoghurt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 tbsp passata or
barbecue sauce (I used tomato puree)
dried herbs (such as oregano, optional)
180g mozzarella, drained and torn into small pieces (I just used cheddar)
120g cheddar cheese, grated
olive oil

Topping ideas;
ham or Prosciutto, 

chopped pineapple
chicken breast, cooked
and shredded
pepperoni slices
roasted peppers
cherry tomatoes, halved
button mushrooms, sliced rocket

You will also need
2 large baking trays

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Tip the flour, Greek yoghurt, baking powder and salt into a food processor and mix until combined and smooth. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 30 seconds.
Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and roll into discs roughly the size of a saucer.
Pop two baking trays in the hot oven to preheat.
Spread 2 tablespoons of tomato passata or barbecue sauce on top of each pizza base and sprinkle with a pinch of dried herbs if using.
Scatter the mozzarella and cheddar evenly over the pizza bases and top with a combination of the extra toppings.
Take the hot baking trays out of the oven and quickly brush with a little oil.
Put 2 pizzas onto each hot baking tray and cook in the hot oven for 8–12 minutes until golden and bubbling. Repeat with the remaining 2 pizzas and serve immediately.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Sweet and sour chicken

This was good, really good, my favourite so far from the Hairy Dieters. With only 288 calories (without rice) a much healthier option than a chinese takeaway.  It wasn't a particularly quick meal to do, I seemed to be in the kitchen for quite some time, but it really wasn't difficult. I have posted my version of sweet and sour chicken way back in May last year. I hate to say it but this one was far superior. 

Serves 4

1 x 425g pineapple chunks in natural juice
2 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp soft light brown sugar
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium onion, cut into 12 wedges
2 peppers, red, green, orange or yellow, deseeded and cut into chunks of about 3cm/1¼in
1 x 225g can water chestnuts
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
25g piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
freshly ground black pepper

To make the sauce, drain the pineapple in a sieve over a bowl and keep all the juice – you should have about 150ml. Put the cornflour in a large bowl and stir in three tablespoons of the pineapple juice to make a smooth paste. Add the remaining juice and 150ml/5fl oz water, then stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ketchup and chilli flakes until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
Cut each chicken breast into eight or nine even pieces. Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan or wok and stir-fry the onion and peppers for two minutes over a high heat. Drain the water chestnuts and cut them in half horizontally. 
Add the remaining oil and the chicken to the pan and stir-fry for two minutes until coloured on all sides. Add the garlic, ginger, pineapple chunks and water chestnuts and stir-fry for 30–60 seconds.

Give the cornflour and pineapple mixture a good stir and add it to the pan with the chicken and vegetables. Stir well, season with some ground black pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook for 4–6 minutes until the sauce is thickened and glossy and the chicken is tender and cooked throughout, turning the chicken and vegetables a few times. Serve with a small portion of rice.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Lamb Tagine

This is the second time I have blogged Lamb Tagine, but as I am hooked on the Hairy Dieters cook book this week as opposed to the Good Housekeeping one last week I wanted to try their version of it. I preferred my version, ( without the chick peas and sweet potato, although adding them did mean I didn't need to cook anything to go with it. I unnecessarily served nan breads with it. I cooked the Tagine for longer than the recipe stated and I don't think I added enough water as it was quite dry. Also the sweet potatoes were very mushy and I couldn't taste the apricots at all. The kids didn't particularly enjoy it, Rachel refused to eat it at all and James picked out the lamb and left everything else. However saying all that, Steve and I really enjoyed the very tender lamb and the exotic flavours.

750g lean lamb meat (or steaks)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp hot chilli powder
1 tbsp oil
400g can chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp runny honey

2 onions, halved and sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, (about 250g) Chopped into rough chunks
75g no-soak dried apricots, halved
2 garlic cloves, chopped
500ml water
lamb stock cube
flat leaf parsley or coriander and finely grated lemon zest to serve (optional)

Set oven for 180ºC. Trim the lamb of any fat and cut into chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Mix the cumin, coriander, cinnamon and chilli powder in a small bowl. Heat oil in a casserole dish, add the seasoned lamb, onion and garlic and stir fry for 1 minute until lightly coloured. Sprinkle over the cumin, coriander, cinnamon and chili, cook for a further 2 minutes, remove from heat as soon as the spices begin to give off a strong aroma.
Tip in the tomatoes and water, honey and chickpeas. Crumble the stock cube over the top and stir well. Bring to a simmer on the hob, then cover and cook in oven for 1 hour. After an hour, stir in the sweet potato and apricots and return to the oven for a further 45 mins or until the lamb is tender.
Serve with some chopped parsley and a little grated lemon zest, which will add a little extra spark of flavour.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Cajun spiced chicken with potato wedges and chive dip

I do have times like most people where the thought of cooking yet another meal is very tedious. I had that feeling last night, but this was so easy to prepare and to cook that it didn't really feel like a chore when it came down to it. It's another recipe from the Hairy Dieters. I'm not on a diet, but if I can eat food that still tastes good and has less fat I'm happy to try the recipes. This requires quite a few spices which I luckily did have, but you can always buy ready prepared Cajun spices.  I always worry slightly when frying chicken that it's not going to be cooked through, so I would suggest maybe halving the breasts length ways to ensure all the pinkness is gone. 

serves 4
284 calories per serving
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ tsp, sunflower oil for greasing
lime wedges to serve

Cajun spice mix;
5 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp flaked sea salt

Potato wedges;
3 medium potatoes
1 tsp sunflower oil
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp flaked sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Chive dip;
100g low fat natural yogurt ( I use total 0% Greek yogurt)
2 tbsp finely chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 220ºC. To make the Cajun spice mix, put the spices and salt in a jar and seal tightly with a screw top lid. Give the jar a really good shake. You can store this for several weeks.
Cut the potatoes into wedges and put them in a bowl. Add the oil and toss lightly to coat all the edges. Sprinkle with paprika and salt and lots of pepper, then scatter onto a baking sheet and cook for 20-25 mins until tender and lightly browned.
While the potatoes are cooking, place the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of clingfilm and beat with a rolling pin until the meat is about 1.5cm thick (or cut in half).
Brush a griddle pan or a frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium high heat until hot. Sprinkle 1 tsp of the spice mix over the chicken breast to dust it lightly.
Griddle or pan fry on both sides until the chicken is cooked through and there is no pink remaining. Leave to rest for 3-4 mins.
Mix the yogurt and chive together. Spoon into a pot and divide the wedges between the plate. Add the chicken breasts, serve with the lime wedges
and a large salad.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Salmon with chilli ginger sauce

The Hairy Dieters cook book, do you still lose weight if you cook the recipes, but eat chocolate cake, crisps, toffees and drink Cava? Somehow I think not. I am impressed with the recipes though and will give some of them a try this week. This was the first one that caught my eye. Unfortunately I only had four bits of salmon between six of us, so like the kind and generous, good host I am gave mine up and had the left over beef casserole, which was even nicer reheated, so I wasn't complaining.  I did have a try of the chilli ginger sauce, it was delicious and the meal was very straightforward to prepare. 

Serves 4
254 calories per serving
2 balls of stem ginger in syrup
2 tbsp of syrup from the ginger
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
finely grated zest of ½ an orange
freshly squeezed juice of 1 orange
½ long red chilli, thinly sliced
4 x salmon fillets, skin on (about 125-150g each)
freshly ground black pepper

Put the ginger balls on a board and slice them thinly. Pile up the slices from the ball and cut through them them to make thin matchstick strips. Put these into a bowl that's large enough to hold the salmon and add 2 tbsp of the syrup from the jar.
Peel the garlic cloves and slice them thinly, then add them to the bowl with the ginger. Stir in the soy sauce, orange zest, orange juice and red chilli.
Put the salmon in the bowl with the marinade. Season with lots of fresh ground black pepper and turn a couple of times, ending with the fish skin side up. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Line a small baking tay with baking parchment. Take the salmon fillets out of the marinade, scraping off any bits and pieces, and place them on the tray, skin side down. Season with more ground black pepper. Bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon.
Meanwhile prepare the sauce. Pour the marinade into a tiny non stick pan and bring to the boil. Cook for 6 minutes or until the liquid has reduced and the garlic is softened. You need enough of the marinade to pour over the salmon but not swamp it completely.
Put the salmon fillets on warm plates, carefully lifting off the skin as you go. Spoon the sauce over the salmon and serve with a small portion of rice or new potatoes and some steamed or stir fried vegetables.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Breakfast banana muffins

With breakfast being so rushed and dull on weekdays, I do like to make something nice if I have time at the weekends. Also the very overripe bananas in the fruit bowl were crying out to be used up. I have made many banana muffins before, but this recipe was by far the best. The secret to a very light and fluffy muffin, is to not over mix, so even if the mixture looks a little lumpy that's fine. I left out the pecan nuts and put a dollop of maple syrup in the mix instead. I also added a little more milk as the mixture seemed to be quite dry. For a little extra sweetness I mixed some demerara sugar with cinnamon and sprinkled this on top of each uncooked muffin. This is another recipe from the 'Good Housekeeping' book.

Makes 12
275g self raising flour
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
125g golden caster sugar (I used normal caster sugar)
1 large egg
50ml milk
75g melted butter
50g chopped roasted pecan nuts

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt and put to one side.
Combine the bananas, sugar, egg and milk, then put in the melted butter and mix well. Add the flour mixture with the nuts, stirring quickly and gently with just a few strokes. Half fill the muffin cases.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and risen. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool. (Even better, eat warm from the oven)

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Friday, 18 January 2013

Beef braised with shallots and bay leaves

For me, the smell of a beef casserole simmering away with wine and garlic is one of the nicest cooking smells in the kitchen. Returning from a wintery walk and opening the door to the wonderful aroma made my mouth water. I cooked the casserole in the slow cooker all day, as opposed to cooking it in the oven, just to ensure that the meat was nice and tender. It was as good as it smelt, melted in the mouth and was a perfect meal for such a cold snowy evening. 

Serves 6
1.5kg of braising beef, cut into large chunks
2 tbsp of plain flour, seasoned
1 large onion, chopped
18 peel shallots (I used the large banana shallots, and only had 5 of them)
3 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
a large pinch of sugar
5 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme (I just used dried thyme)
300ml of red wine
400ml of beef stock
12-18 small floury potatoes, scrubbed and pierced with a knife
I added a couple of cloves of garlic

Heat the oven to 160ºC. Toss the meat with the flour. Put some oil in a large casserole dish over a high heat. Add the meat in batches and brown it thoroughly, removing each batch as it is done. Add a little more oil if you need to then brown the onions, scoop out and brown the shallots all over. Put the meat and onions back in the pan with the shallots and add the carrots, sugar, bay and thyme. Add the wine and stock and bring to a simmer. Season well. Put a lid on the casserole and cook in the oven for 2 hours.
After 2 hours put the potatoes on a baking sheet above the casserole and take the lid off the casserole. Cook for another 40 mins then turn the oven up to 220ºC and cook for 15 mins until the sauce thickens a little and the potatoes crisp up.
Cut a cross in the top of each potato and stick some butter in each. Season with black pepper and serve 2 - 3 potatoes per person with the stew. 

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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Lamb Ragu with Papperdelle Pasta

What a lovely change from the usual minced beef Ragu this meal from 'Nigellissima' was. I left it cooking for longer than she stated in the recipe, it would be difficult to overcook it. I loved the sweetness from the redcurrant jelly, and didn't feel the need to smother it with Parmesan, which I would normally do with a ragu sauce. There was snow on the ground last night and the kids came in from sledging to this warming, comforty meal, which we all really enjoyed for a change these days. I doubled the recipe for four of us, but didn't add two tins of tomatoes, I added some tomato puree instead, as I thought it might be a bit runny. 

Serves 2
For the lamb ragu
1½ tablespoons garlic infused olive oil (I added some garlic cloves to olive oil)
4 spring onions (finely sliced)
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon chillies (crushed)
250g minced lamb (I used lean minced lamb)
240g chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly
1.5 teaspoon worcester sauce
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of pepper
250g pappardelle
For the serving
1 handful fresh mint (I used curled parsley in the absence of mint)

Put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta, and warm the garlic oil in a small, heavy-based pan that comes with a lid, and cook the spring onions, stirring for a minute or so.
Sprinkle in the herbs and chilli, stirring again before adding the meat. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring, until it loses a bit of its pinkness.
Add the tomatoes, redcurrant jelly, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, then give a good stir and bring to a bubble. Partially cover with the lid and simmer for 20 minutes.
At the appropriate time, salt the boiling water and cook the pasta according to packet instructions, and once cooked and drained, dress with the lamb ragù. Sprinkle a little bit of fresh mint onto each bowl to serve.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Fast Fish Soup

I gave Rachel the option to choose meals for dinner last week as I can't fathom out what she likes to eat these days. This was one of her choices, which went down well with everyone but James. I didn't pulse the onion and fennel just chopped them roughly, he may have preferred a more pureed version. I'll put the Good Housekeeping cookbook away for a while, but I so love the fact that the recipes are very quick to make. This was only about 15 minutes in preparation and cooking, but was still packed with loads of flavour. 

Serves 4
1 onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped
1tbsp vegetable oil
400g tin chopped tomatoes
500ml fish stock
1 bay leaf
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
300g smoked haddock or smoked cod, diced (I used smoked haddock)
A large handful chopped fresh parsley

Pulse onion and fennel in a food processor until pea size. Heat oil in a large pan and fry chopped vegetables over a medium heat for 10 mins until soft. Add tomatoes, stock, bay leaf and zest.
Bring to the boil, then add fish and cook for 2-3min or until fish is cooked and opaque. Season. Remove bay leaf, stir in parsley.

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Glorious Skinny Soup - Oriental Spiced Tomato

This is a food review of a soup I picked up at the Co-op at lunch time, not a recipe. I am not a great fan of bought soup apart from Heinz Tomato soup and a fresh tomato soup from Sainsburys that I had recently at a friends house. This however was a wonderful surprise. I haven't seen this make before and as they were on special in the local co-op I thought I would give them a try. Stupidly I only bought once as I didn't expect them to be as nice, being low in fat and all that.  It had really lovely Thai flavours of coconut and lemongrass, and with the addition of some basmati rice it felt very filling and hearty, with only 130 calories in half a pot. I think I'll pop back and buy a couple more next time I pass. This flavour is Limited edition, but I searched on line and Sainsburys do stock this range.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Cheat's oven kievs

This is another recipe from the 'Good Housekeeping 30 minute meals', cookbook, it's getting a good airing that book. I loved it, it tasted great and was simple to make. With just the right amount of garlicyiness and a good crunchy topping, and with only 373 calories a much healthier option than ready made ones. 

Serves 4

4 x 125g skinless chicken breasts
50g Boursin, garlic and herb flavour
75g fresh white breadcrumbs (I only had brown bread, and whizzed this into breadcrumbs)
1 medium egg
25g butter, melted
Small handful of curly parsley, finely chopped
4 cocktail sticks


Preheat oven to 200°C. Cut a slit in the side of a chicken breast and use your finger to work it into a pocket. Repeat with remaining breasts. Stuff each pocket with a quarter of the Boursin, seal with a cocktail stick and arrange stuffed breasts on a non-stick baking tray.
In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients and some seasoning. Pat a quarter of the bread mixture on top of each chicken breast.
Cook for 25min or until the breasts are cooked through. Remove the cocktail sticks and serve with a green salad and boiled new potatoes.

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Saturday, 12 January 2013

Gnocchi Bake

Well, this was easy, and cherry tomatoes in a can, that was a first for me. I didn't know they existed. And in the words of the Good Housekeeping cookbook, 'This is made in the time it would take to heat a ready made pizza'. A lot nicer too. 

Serves 4
750g gnocchi
3 tbsp mascarpone
400g tin cherry tomatoes
½ tbsp sun-dried tomato purée (I used normal purée)
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
½ garlic clove, finely chopped (I didn't use this)
125g ball buffalo mozzarella, torn into pieces
Large handful rocket (I sprinkled some curled parsley on, in the absence of rocket)

Preheat grill to medium. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the gnocchi and cook for 3-4 mins or until they bob to the surface. Drain and tip into a large bowl.
Stir through the mascarpone, tomatoes, tomato purée, spring onion and garlic. Check the seasoning, then empty the mix into a 2 litre ovenproof casserole dish. Dot over the mozzarella, then grill for 5min until piping hot and golden. Top with rocket and serve.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Zesty Turkey One-Pan

This is not a meal for those who were glad to see the back of all the turkey leftovers from Christmas. It would work just as well with chicken though. As I didn't have that problem this year, this recipe looked very appealing, especially as it claims to be 203 calories per serving.  I really enjoyed it, a very zesty sauce but with way too much liquid. I would maybe just use 200ml of chicken stock. I tried to reduce the sauce but as this didn't work I just poured away some of the sauce trying to save the tomato pieces as I did.  The recipe is from 'Good Housekeeping, 30 minute cookbook'.

Serves 4
½ tbsp olive oil
4 turkey breast steaks, total about 500g
350ml chicken stock (I suggest using less)
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
25g capers, rinsed and chopped
4 tomatoes, roughly chopped
Large handful fresh curly parsley, roughly chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat and add the turkey steaks. Fry for 2 min, turning once, to brown the steaks. Add the stock, lemon zest and juice, the capers, tomatoes and some seasoning. Simmer for 8min until the turkey is cooked through.
Add the parsley and check the seasoning. Serve with rice, seasonal vegetables or salad.

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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Sesame beef

I'm going through my new Good Housekeeping cookbook and looking for recipes with low calories per serving. This was one of them, 207 calories which I found quite hard to believe. I should have made it with tagliatelle as Rachel has decided that she doesn't like any Asian food, that includes all stir fries, rice dishes and noodle dishes. Her favourite restaurants happen to be called Wagamamas, Zen and Fat Buddha, which gives you a clue to their cuisine. But hey, she is a teenager, I'll have to go with it as frustrating as it is. Being a stir fry this recipe is quick to prepare and quick to cook making it a good week night supper. I was slightly disappointed with it's appearance, as the photo in the book showed a really rich sauce, although the flavours weren't disappointing.

Serves 4
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp of tomato puree
juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp of sesame seeds
1 garlic clove, crushed
400g rump steak, thinly sliced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 small pak choi, sliced
1 bunch of spring onions, sliced
freshly cooked egg noodles or tagliatelle to serve

Mix the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree, lemon juice, sesame seeds and garlic together in a bowl. Add the steak and toss to coat.
Heat the oil in a large wok or non-stick frying pan until hot. Add the steak and sear well. Remove from the wok and put to one side.
Add the sauce from the bowl to the wok and heat for 1 minute. Add the pak choi, spring onions and steak, and stir fry for 5 minutes. Add the freshly cooked and drained noodles or pasta, toss and serve immediately.

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Monday, 7 January 2013

Pepperoni, mozzarella and green chilli tart

This was a kind of pizza on a pastry base instead of a dough base. It came about from a need to use up some ready rolled puff pastry and some leftovers the other evening. The result was very pleasing, I liked the kick of the chilli, but left the kids half free of spiciness. I hate to waste things and when I checked the date on the mozzarella they were a week or so out of date, on opening them they were absolutely fine. If the packet has started to swell then I wouldn't chance it, otherwise I think it's worth just having a sniff to check the usability. A really easy and incredibly tasty supper. 

Serves 4
A pack of ready rolled puff pastry
tomato puree
2 packs of mozzarella, sliced
pepperoni, as much as you like
4 spring onions, chopped
a green chilli, deseeded and sliced

Place the puff pastry still on it's baking parchment on to a baking tray. Score a line about 1cm in from the edge of the pastry all around the edges of the pastry. Cover in tomato puree right up to the scored line. Add the other toppings and bake in a high oven for about 15 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Bûche de noël

My intention had been to make this cake before Christmas. I bought a new Swiss roll tin and the decorative little robins, then decided it was unnecessary as it would be another thing to eat when you didn't really need to eat. James had his 12th birthday yesterday, so I asked him if it was ok to make it for his birthday cake. As chocolate cake is his favourite, he had no problem with agreeing to it. It was fairly easy to make, but you do need 2 appliances to whisk with. The sponge did roll very easily and stayed together well once rolled. I wouldn't put as much vanilla in the icing next time as it was quite overpowering. The recipe looks long and complicated, copied from, it's not as difficult as it would seem.

6 medium eggs (separated)
150g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 teaspoon icing sugar (to decorate)

For the icing;
175g dark chocolate (chopped)
200g icing sugar
225g butter (soft)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I would only use a teaspoon next time)

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
In a large, clean bowl whisk the egg whites until thick and peaking, then, still whisking, sprinkle in 50g of the caster sugar and continue whisking until the whites are holding their peaks but not dry.
In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the remaining caster sugar until the mixture is moussy, pale and thick. Add the vanilla extract, sieve the cocoa powder over, then fold both in.
Lighten the yolk mixture with a couple of dollops of the egg whites, folding them in robustly. Then add the remaining whites in thirds, folding them in carefully to avoid losing the air.
Line a Swiss roll tin with baking parchment, leaving a generous overhang at the ends and sides, and folding the parchment into the corners to help the paper stay anchored.
Pour in the cake mixture and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Let the cake cool a little before turning it out onto another piece of baking parchment. If you dust this piece of parchment with a little icing sugar it may help with preventing stickage, but don’t worry too much as any tears or dents will be covered by icing later. Cover loosely with a clean tea towel.
To make the icing, melt the chocolate – either in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water or, in a microwave following the manufacturer’s guidelines – and let it cool.
Put the icing sugar into a processor and blitz to remove lumps, add the butter and process until smooth. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and the tablespoon of vanilla extract and pulse again to make a smooth icing. You can do this by hand, but it does mean you will have to sieve the sugar before creaming it with the butter and stirring in the chocolate and vanilla.
Sit the flat chocolate cake on a large piece of baking parchment. Trim the edges of the Swiss roll. Spread some of the icing thinly over the sponge, going right out to the edges. Start rolling from the long side facing you, taking care to get a tight roll from the beginning, and roll up to the other side. Pressing against the parchment, rather than the tender cake, makes this easier.
Cut one or both ends slightly at a gentle angle, reserving the remnants, and place the Swiss roll on a board or long dish. The remnants, along with the trimmed-off bits earlier, are to make a branch or two; you get the effect by placing a piece of cake at an angle to look like a branch coming off the big log.
Spread the yule log with the remaining icing, covering the cut-off ends as well as any branches. Create a wood-like texture by marking along the length of the log with a skewer or somesuch, remembering to do wibbly circles, as in tree rings, on each end.
You don’t have to dust with icing sugar, but I love the freshly fallen snow effect, so push quite a bit through a small sieve, letting some settle in heaps on the plate or board on which the log sits.

Make the Yule Log up to 1 week ahead and store in an airtight container in a very cool place.

Make the Yule Log and 
freeze in a rigid container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in a cool room and store in an airtight container until needed.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Special prawn fried rice

There were complaints all around last night about this meal, only because there was no second helping. I have posted a similar recipe at the start of my blog but I much preferred this one. I couldn't find nasi goreng in tesco, so I figured that Tom yum paste would be fine as a substitute.  The recipe is from a new cook book, ' Good Housekeeping, 30 minute cook book'.

Note Added; Check the spiciness of the Tom yum paste, my sister in law made it with obviously a much hotter one and it nearly blew their socks off.


Serves 4 
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
6 tablespoons nasi goreng paste
250g cooked king prawns
200g green cabbage, shredded
2 x 250g packs of microwave rice
30 mls soy sauce
15 mls sunflower oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 lime, halved

Heat the sesame oil in a wok and fry the nasi goreng paste for 1-2min. Add the prawns and cabbage, and fry for 2-3min. Next add the rice and soy sauce, and cook for a further 5min, stirring occasionally.
To make the omelette, heat the sunflower oil in a nonstick frying pan (around 25.5cm/10in in diameter) and add the eggs. Swirl around to cover the base in a thin layer and cook for 2-3min until set.
Roll up the omelette and cut into slivers. Serve the rice scattered with the egg and spring onions, and pass around the lime halves to squeeze over.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Let's get cooking

Happy New Year. I've had a bit of a break from continuous cooking, meals out, a trip  to London, with a meal in Chinatown and ice creams at the Fortnum and Mason Tea Parlour. Plenty of cheese and leftovers on the menu too. Christmas dinner was a great success, very easy and I actually enjoyed it. Of course the usual stressing that the veggies weren't cooked enough when everything else was ready. It all came together and was much appreciated by my family. A New Year's Eve curry went down well, a new recipe which I photographed, but it came out very blurred for some reason. I'll have to make it again and blog it when I am not under the influence .

I got a trio of cook books for Christmas, but for a couple of weeks at least I think I'll be finding some low fat, healthy recipes on the good food website. Might be useful for those of us who feel we've eaten a bit too much over the Christmas.

Anyway that can start next week as I have family coming to stay for 3 nights, so it's not the right time to start cutting down. I tried another recipe from Nigellissima last night, Sicilian tomatoes with almonds and anchovies, I didn't love it so didn't feel it was worth posting the recipe.

The red ballet shoes were a Christmas present from one of my oldest friends, they are objects of beauty which I had to share.