Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Tuna and Pasta Bake

I wasn't going to blog this meal I made last night. I was struggling for something to make for tea and knowing it would have to be something with pasta, found this recipe while trawling through the pasta recipes on the Good Food Website. It's very much a store cupboard meal, a bit of a studenty one at that. I found it a bit tasteless as the mature cheddar I used didn't seem to have much flavour. Rachel had two of her friends here around tea time and they both had a sneaky little taste, they both thought it was gorgeous. Obviously a good one for kids and if I did make it again I would just use a more flavoursome cheese. I added the cheese to the sauce, though the recipe states just to sprinkle the cheddar on top. I think a little bit more mustard and perhaps some parmesan might have improved the flavour too. 

Serves 4
400g fusilli pasta
100g frozen peas
50g butter
50g plain flour
600ml milk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 x 195g cans tuna, drained
4 spring onions, sliced
198g can sweeetcorn, drained
100g cheddar, grated

Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook, following pack instructions, until tender. Add the peas for the final 3 mins cooking time.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 mins. Add the milk, whisking constantly, then slowly bring to the boil, stirring often, until sauce thickens. Remove from the heat, add the mustard and season well.
Heat the grill to medium. Drain the pasta and peas, then return to the pan and stir in the tuna, spring onions, sweetcorn and sauce. Tip into a shallow baking dish, top with the cheddar and cook under the grill for 5 mins or until golden and bubbling.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Deli pasta salad

This is a good recipe to bear in mind for the summer, which is hopefully not too far away now. It's a good one for picnics or bbq's. Made in advance it can be refrigerated until ready to eat. Double or triple the recipe to feed a crowd and replace the prosciutto with mozzarella for a vegetarian option.

serves 4
300g farfalle (pasta bows)

200g frozen peas
1 large tomato
10 sundried tomatoes in oil
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 garlic clove
large handful fresh basil leaves
85g pack prosciutto or salami

COOK THE PASTA: Boil the pasta in salted water for 8 minutes then add the peas, return the water to the boil and cook for 2 minutes more until the pasta and peas are tender. Tip into a colander over the sink, cool the pasta and peas under the cold tap then drain really well.
MAKE THE DRESSING: While the pasta is boiling roughly chop the tomato and put in a food processor with half the sun-dried tomatoes, the olive oil, vinegar, garlic and about 8 basil leaves. Season with plenty of salt and freshly ground pepper then whizz until smooth. Tip into a large salad bowl.
TOSS AND SERVE: Add the pasta and peas to the dressing, roughly slice the rest of the sun-dried tomatoes and add to the pasta with the remaining basil leaves. Tear in the prosciutto or salami and toss everything together. Pile into bowls and, if possible, eat outside.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Soy caramel chicken with greens and noodles

I feel like I have been a bit lax of late. I am still doing a lot of cooking but I've been doing recipes that I have previously posted. Tonight's recipe was a new one from Olive Magazine. Extremely tasty, sweet and salty flavours, the only problem was I didn't make enough and I was craving for more. 

Serves 2
4 halved skinless chicken thigh fillets
1 clove garlic crushed
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp dark muscavado sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 handfuls of washed and shredded greens
fresh noodles to serve

Heat the oil in a wok and fry the chicken pieces for 5-6 minutes until they are nicely browned. Scoop out and add the garlic for 30 seconds, then add the soy and chicken and cook for 2 -3 minutes. Add the sugar and fish sauce and keep cooking until the sauce is thick and glossy.
Stir fry the greens in a separate Pan. Add the noodles and heat through. Spoon over the chicken.

Note: I added the stir fried greens and noodles to the chicken in the wok so everything had a good coating of the delicious sauce. I squeezed some lime juice just before serving.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Italian meatball melts

I used my burger press for the second time ever the other night. The original recipe was 'Italian meatball melts' from Olive magazine. Instead of making meatballs, I made the meat into burgers and only used steak mince. The recipe says to use pork and beef for juicier meatballs, and I would be inclined to agree. Like the meatballs I made previously I did find them a little dry just using beef. I didn't bother to make the tomato sauce as I knew my two kids would smother them with tomato ketchup anyway. Now reading the recipe again I think the sauce would have added flavour and moistness.

Serves 2
300g minced beef and pork (I think this means the total amount of both)
½ a small onion grated
½ clove of garlic crushed
1 tbsp of parmesan
a pinch of chilli flakes
2 tbsp chopped basil, plus leaves to serve
2 halved and toasted ciabatta rolls
mozzarella or other cheese to serve
2 handfuls of rocket to serve
½ a garlic clove sliced
olive oil
200g tin of chopped tomatoes
a pinch of chilli flakes
1 tsp of sugar

Put the first five ingredients in a bowl, season really heavily and mix together with your hands. Form into 8 meatballs, or burgers. Fry in a large pan until browned all over.
To make the sauce sizzle the sliced garlic in a little olive oil then tip in the tomatoes, chillies and sugar. Simmer until thickened.
Stir the meatballs in the sauce with the chopped basil and simmer for 10 minutes. To serve pile rocket and meaballs into the ciabatta bottoms and top with a layer of grated mozzarella. Flash under the grill to melt the cheese then add a few more basil leaves, put the tops on then serve.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Boozy Eton Mess

Here's a lovely easy dessert to make for the weekend if you are having friends around, or just fancy a treat. Assembled in minutes with just a small amount of preparation before hand, it's a perfect dinner party dessert. It requires purchasing a bottle of Cassis, but it will keep for ages, and if you like sparking wine as I do, it makes a wonderful Kir Royale. I first had the pleasure of this dessert at a friends house and realised that I had the recipe in my 'Good housekeeping 30 minute' cookbook. It brings with it a taste of summer. 

Serves 4

½ tsp arrowroot
125ml crème de cassis
300ml  double cream

2-3tbsp icing sugar, sifted
½tsp vanilla extract
25g meringue nests, broken up
150g blueberries (I used frozen blueberries)
15g flaked almonds

Put arrowroot into a small pan and gradually whisk in crème de cassis. Put pan over a high heat and simmer for 1-2min, whisking constantly, until syrup thickens. Take off the heat, empty into a small jug, and leave to cool.
Pour cream into a large bowl. Add the icing sugar and vanilla, and whisk until the cream just holds it shape, don’t overwhip or it will turn grainy.
Divide meringues between four large glasses. Spoon a few blueberries into each glass, then drizzle a little of the cassis syrup over them. Next, divide cream equally among the glasses and top each with ¼ each of the remaining blueberries and cassis syrup. Sprinkle over the almonds and serve at once.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Quick Smoked Mackerel Kedgeree

This is not dissimilar to the salmon kedgeree I posted a while back, apart from the use of non pre cooked rice and mackerel fillets. Steve had three helpings and declared it one of his favourite meals. The meal is a variation of a Goodfood Website recipe.

Serves 4
1 small onion chopped
a knob of butter
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp curry powder
400g basmati rice
4 eggs
a pack of smoked mackerel fillets or 225g pack smoked salmon trimmings
700ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
a handful of spinach leaves
trimmed and chopped spring onions to serve

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat and tip in the chopped onion and the curry powder, turmeric and coriander. Cook for a few minutes until the onions soften, then tip in the rice and stir to coat in the butter. Pour in the hot stock and bring to the boil. Stir once and boil for 5 minutes, then cover the pan with its lid and continue cooking the rice on the lowest possible heat for 15 minutes. Add the spinach a few minutes before the end of cooking time, so it has a chance to wilt.
Boil the eggs: While the rice is cooking, bring a small pan of water to simmering point. Lower in the eggs and simmer for 8-9 minutes until softly boiled. Move the pan to the sink and tip off the hot water, then fill the pan with cold water from the tap. Take out the eggs, then shell and roughly chop them.
Finish the dish: Tip the rice into a serving dish, toss in the mackerel fillet pieces or smoked salmon and the green onions and fork through. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Put the pieces of egg on top and serve.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Greek roast lamb

Having forgotten to photograph this meal in it's finished state, we will have to make do with the preparatory stage photograph. I liked the simplicity of this meal, just bunging the above roasting tray in the oven then making a tomato and olive sauce with the juices from the meat. It is highly flavoured with garlic and oregano, but I enjoyed the change from the usual roast lamb and roast vegetables. Although a traditional roast lamb dinner is a hard meal to beat. I found the recipe on the BBC Goodfood website. I used a smaller piece of lamb and reduced the cooking time. 

Serves 8
1 large leg of lamb , about 3kg
6 garlic cloves
1 bunch oregano
zest and juice 1 lemon
6 tbsp olive oil
1½kg new potatoes
400g can chopped tomatoes
large handful pitted baby kalamata olives

Heat oven to 220ºC. Pound the garlic, half the oregano, lemon zest and a pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar, then add the lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Stab the lamb all over with a sharp knife, then push as much of the herb paste as you can into the holes.
Tip the potatoes into a large roasting tin, then toss in the remaining olive oil and any remaining herb paste. Nestle the lamb amongst the potatoes, roast for 20 mins, then reduce the temperature to 160ºC. Roast for 1 hr 15 mins for medium-rare, adding another 15 mins if you prefer your lamb medium. Baste the lamb once or twice with the juices and toss the potatoes. When the lamb is done to your liking, remove from the tin and let it rest. Throw the rest of the oregano in with the potatoes, scoop from the tin and keep warm.
Place the roasting tin over a medium flame, add the canned tomatoes and olives to the pan juices, then simmer for a few mins. Serve the lamb with the potatoes and sauce and a simple salad

Friday, 12 April 2013

Nigel Slater's, Pork with cashew nuts, lime and mint

For fear of forgetting the art of cooking it was time to start cooking again tonight. I chose the recipe from Nigel Slater's 'Real food', a great cook book that I don't use as often as I should. As I was cooking it and the children were having a coughing fit when the chilli hit the back of their throats, I guessed it was too spicy for their tastes. I loved it, having eaten out at an Asian restaurant last night I did enjoy this much more.
Serve with rice.

Serves 2
400g pork fillet
6 tbsp of groundnut oil
90g unsalted cashews or peanuts
1 inch piece of ginger peeled and finely grated
4 spring onions finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic peeled and finely chopped
4 small hot, red chillies seeded and finely chopped
Zest and juice of 3 large limes
2 tbsp of fish sauce
A handful of mint leaves, chopped
A handful of basil leaves torn to shreds


Slice the pork fillet into pieces about as thick as your little finger, then cut into short strips. Get a wok or frying pan really hot and then pour 3 tbsp of the oil into it. Once it's really hot add the pork.
Cook for 3-4 minutes until it is golden brown in patches. Stir it from time to time during cooking otherwise it won't colour properly. Keep the heat high throughout and if it produces too much juice (it shouldn't if the pan is hot enough) tip most of it away and carry on cooking.
Meanwhile chop or bash up the nuts. When the meat is brown and sizzling transfer to a warm plate with the juices return your pan/wok to the heat and when it's sizzling hot add the remaining oil add the chilli, garlic, spring onions and ginger and fry, stirring almost constantly for two minutes.
Add the nuts to the pan and stir fry for a couple more minutes, then return the meat and any juices to the pan. Stir in the lime juice, zest and the fish sauce and fry for another couple of minutes.
Add the chopped herbs to the pan, stir and serve immediately.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Nigellas Chicken with Tomatoes and Peppers

I've had a nicely busy Easter Holiday so far, with a family city break to Edinburgh and friends to stay for a few days. We decided on dinner one night at Jamie's Italian, a beautiful looking restaurant situated in the Old Assembly rooms on George Street, Edinburgh. With a good vibe and a buzzing atmosphere, the food was pleasant though not wonderful. The restaurant was packed on a Wednesday evening, I guess that's the power of Jamie Oliver. The kids were disappointed that there were no pizzas on the menu and opted for Tagliatelle Bolognese instead, which they didn't enthuse about. I had turkey Milanese, breaded turkey stuffed with prosciutto and fontina cheese. It was huge, the size of the plate almost. I ordered a side of polenta chips, which to be honest I wasn't keen on. Steve had the very impressive looking Jamie's Italian burger. We liked the fact that the kids could order as many scoops of ice cream as they wanted off the kids menu for 50p each. The menu is comprised of Jamie's favourite Italian recipes, apart from that I am not sure what involvement he will have in the restaurants. They seem to be popping up in most major cities and I am sure they will do well just because they have his name associated with them.  
The recipe below is a meal I cooked on holiday in the February half term, from the Nigellissima Cookbook. It's not my favourite chicken recipe, not nearly as good as Hunters Chicken, which I have previously blogged. Though on holiday it made a good quick supper dish. The recipe stated serving it with Orzo pasta, but any pasta would do. 

serves 3-4
1 x 15ml tablespoon garlic oil
1 small onion, or 1 banana shallot finely chopped
500g chicken thigh fillets, cut into bitesize pieces (I used breast fillets)
1 tsp dried oregano
2 x 15ml tablespoons marsala
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes, plus water to rinse out can
1 tsp sea salt flakes, or ½ tsp pouring salt
1 x 290g jar (190g drained weight) flame roasted red peppers 

Pour the garlic oil into a small casserole dish or heavy based pan and cook the onion until soft, stirring frequently. Add the chicken along with the oregano and turn in the hot pan. Add the marsala and watch it bubble up, before promptly adding the tomatoes and the salt.
Half-fill the empty can with water and pour it into the pan, swilling out as much of the tomato as you can. Drain the peppers and snip with scissors into bitesize pieces (or remove your roasted peppers from the over). Add to the pan and then bring to the boil before turning down the heat and leaving to cook at a steady simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened. As the pan is simmering, cook the orzo pasta. When the pasta is done and the chicken cooked through, serve in bowls or serve straight from the pan at the table. 

Monday, 1 April 2013

Mary Berry's Easter Lemon Pavlova

Having watched Mary Berry make this Easter Pavlova the other evening on TV, I decided to give it a go to take to a family gathering today. It's a little more fiddly than my usual pavlova with the piping addition, but apart from that quite simple, for what ends up being a beautiful looking dessert. I have simplified it further by just buying really good lemon curd, rather than making my own and I didn't make the crystalised lemon peel. As it's such a long recipe and I only did part of it, the following is the link to the BBC Website. Mary Berry's Easter Lemon Pavlova.
What a shame it will be to cut into it.