Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Curly Kale soup

As well as making the kale crisps yesterday I made this Kale soup. Well it is supposed to be a superfood, and I was trying to eat healthily yesterday. That lasted until tea time. I made the mistake of blending the soup while it still had a bay leaf  in, the taste of bay was overpowering. Shame, as think it would have been a really nice soup otherwise. I googled kale soup to find a recipe, and improvised with the ingredients I had to hand.

Olive oil
100g Kale
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
300g potatoes, diced
1 litre of vegetable stock

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Fry the onion and garlic until soft and golden. Add the potatoes for a couple of minutes. Reserve some of the Kale, and add the rest to the pan with the stock. Cook for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Then using a hand blender or a processor blend the soup until smooth. Season and add the remaining Kale just before serving. 

Monday, 24 February 2014

Curly Kale crisps

You will have to make these to realise how delicious they are. I had a huge bag of kale in the fridge and remembered seeing a recipe for baked Kale crisps. Heat the oven to 170ºC. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Sprinkle 100g of Kale with olive oil and and sea salt. Bake for 10-15 minutes until brown round the edges, but not burnt. 
I ended up doing two batches as we couldn't stop eating them, so moreish. Think crispy seaweed at a Chinese restaurant. 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Jamie Oliver's beef tagine

I only read the recipe for this as I was about to start cooking. Ideally the beef is supposed to chill, coated with the spices for a couple of hours or overnight, so the flavours penetrate the meat. I was short of time at this point and only had a few hours, it takes 3 hours to cook. So I just gave the meat a good massage with the spices and left it for a short time while I prepared all the other ingredients. This mishap by no means affected the flavour of this meal. It was a fragrant, wonderfully tender tagine, which will be on my list of favourite meals. It would be a good one to do in the slow cooker, as slow cooking could only improve the flavour. I would add the squash a a couple of hours before the end of cooking time, to avoid it becoming overcooked.I have just started using Instagram, and on following Jamie Oliver found this on his site as his recipe of the day. Looks like that will be a new source of inspiration for me.

Serves 3-4

600 g quality stewing beef
olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 small bunch of fresh coriander
400 g tinned chickpeas, drained
400 g tinned chopped tomatoes
800 ml organic vegetable stock
1 small squash, approximately 800g, deseeded and cut into 5cm chunks
100 g prunes, stoned and roughly torn
2 tablespoons flaked almonds, toasted

For the spice rub
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 level tablespoon ras el hanout spice mix
1 level tablespoon ground cumin
1 level tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 level tablespoon ground ginger
1 level tablespoon sweet paprika

Mix all the spice rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Put the beef into a large bowl, massage it with the spice rub, then cover with cling film and put into the fridge for a couple of hours – ideally overnight - that way the spices really penetrate and flavour the meat.
When you're ready to cook, heat a generous lug of olive oil in a tagine or casserole– type pan and fry the meat over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add your chopped onion and coriander stalks and fry for another 5 minutes. Tip in the chickpeas and tomatoes, then pour in 400ml of stock and stir. Bring to the boil, then put the lid on the pan or cover with foil and reduce to a simmer for 1½ hours.
At this point, add your squash, the prunes and the rest of the stock. Give everything a gentle stir, then pop the lid back on the pan and continue cooking for another 1½ hours. Keep an eye on it and add a splash of water if it looks too dry.
Once the time is up, take the lid off and check the consistency. If it seems a bit too runny, simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, more with the lid off. The beef should be really tender and flaking apart now, so have a taste and season with a pinch or two of salt. Scatter the coriander leaves over the tagine along with the toasted almonds, then take it straight to the table with a big bowl of lightly seasoned couscous or rice.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Hummingbird Bakery Apple Streusel Cake

Anyone else fed up of looking at that banana cake? My mum is, and to be honest so am I. It was a lovely cake and lasted about three days stored in the fridge, still tasting wonderfully fresh. I have made this apple cake for a dessert tonight, as I had a lot of apples in my fruit bowl. It looks and smells great and was relatively easy to make. I am just going to serve it cold with some clotted cream. Well it is still the holiday week.

Serves 8
For the cake
60g unsalted butter
140g plain flour
100g caster sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
80mls whole milk
3 granny smith apples (I used braeburn)

For the streusel topping
70g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
40g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
70g soft light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 170C.
Grease and line a 20cm spring-form cake tin.
Firstly, make the streusel topping by sifting the flour and cinnamon into a bowl.
Add the butter and rub together using your fingertips until they resemble breadcrumbs.
Add the sugar and set aside.
Secondly, make the sponge by creaming the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
Add the egg and vanilla essence and mix well.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and then add half to the creamed butter mixture followed by half of the milk.
Repeat with the rest of the flour mixture and milk.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin.
Peel, core and slice the apples and arrange on top of the cake batter.
Sprinkle the streusel topping on top evenly.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown.
Cake can be eaten warm or cold.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Banana Refrigerator Cake

I"m looking forward to a slice of this at the weekend. It's a different recipe to my usual banana cake, so I'll let you know which one I preferred. The reason it's called a refrigerator cake is simply because it can be stored in the fridge and remain soft, due to the absence of butter in it. The topping is white chocolate and cream cheese which should be kept cold. I found the recipe on a blog called 'Delicious, Delicious, Delicious'. Click on the link to go to the recipe. I only used half the amount of icing as I'm expecting it to be quite rich. 

Sunday, 9 February 2014


Saturday night, a nap on the sofa while the rugby was on. Waking up feeling a bit groggy and realising that tea still has to be made. A second wind while listening to the Lisa Tarbuck show on radio 2, what an entertaining lady. The result, a gorgeously tasty meal, which I will definitely be doing again. In the words of olive magazine,"Flammkuchen or flame cake is a kind of baked flatbread with lardons, onions and creme fraiche". 

Serves 4
300g strong bread flour
1 tsp fast action yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
150g smoked streaky bacon, cut into matchsticks (I used the whole pack)
4 tbsp creme fraiche
1 large onion, halved and sliced
50g gruyere finely grated

Put the flour in a bowl with the yeast and salt. Mix the olive oil with 200ml of warm water. Mix to a soft dough then tip onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. 
Cover with cling film and leave until you have made the toppings.
Heat a frying pan and add the bacon and a knob of butter. Fry for 5 minutes then scoop out and add the onions. Cook the onions until soft and golden.
Heat the oven to 230ºC. Divide the dough into 2 then roll each to a very thin oval and put each on a floured baking tray.

Spread each base with the creme fraiche, season with salt and a grating of nutmeg then scatter on the bacon, onion and cheese. Bake in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the base is light and golden and cooked through. Cook seperately so each Flammkuchen gets the full amount of heat. Eat hot. 

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Breakfast Banana Pancakes

Pancakes for breakfast, it must be the weekend. I followed the Banana Pancake recipe from the blog, A Girl Called Jack. I wasn't sure if they were supposed to be small or large pancakes so I did both. I just added a little bit more milk to make the larger ones. Drizzled with maple syrup, they were heavenly. Click on the link above to see the recipe and the blog. You must of heard of Jack Monroe by now, she is everywhere, an incredible girl. 

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Asian inspired pork fillet

My usual dish to make with pork fillet is saltimbocca. Last night that didn't really appeal, so I looked for other ways to cook the meat. I was tempted by all the Asian recipes, but slightly limited with the ingredients I had. Then I found a simple marinade with just four ingredients and gave it a try. Obviously the longer you marinade the meat for, the better, but I only left it for an hour or so. The meat was beautifully tender with a delicious Asian inspired flavour. 

Serves 4
500-600g piece of pork fillet

for the marinade;
½ cup of honey
2 cloves or garlic, crushed
4 tbsp of teriyaki sauce or soy sauce
juice of a lemon

Mix together the ingredients for the marinade and lay in the pork fillet, (I cut mine in half). Refrigerate for up to 3 hours, turning occasionally. When you are ready to cook, heat the oven to 200ºC. Heat some oil in a pan and brown the sides of the fillet. Put in a roasting dish and roast for 20 minutes until the juices run clear. Leave to rest covered in foil for about 10 minutes. Heat the marinade in a pan with the juices that have come from the resting meat. Slice the meat into thin slices, serve with rice, steamed green vegetables and the sauce drizzled over. 

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Chicken and tomato pasta bake

Although not a very special meal, this was a good way to use half a cooked chicken and make the meat go a little further. Perhaps a Monday night meal with leftovers from the Sunday Roast? I used another recipe from the GoodFood site and decided to add the pasta to it to make it easier. I didn't have mozzarella and I think that would have been a nice addition, it may have also benefitted from a spicier tomato sauce. I grated cheddar cheese on top and along with the crispy bread crumbs, the topping was one of the best bits.    

Serves 4
2 small or 1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
3 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp sugar
little splash red or white wine vinegar
about 500g cooked chicken, shredded into chunks
125g ball mozzarella
2 good handfuls fresh breadcrumbs (or gluten-free alternative)
Buy Ingredients

Fry the onion and garlic in the oil until softened. Add the oregano, tomatoes and sugar, a little splash of vinegar and some salt and pepper, then simmer for 20 mins until the sauce is really thick. Stir in the chicken and transfer to a baking dish.
Heat oven to 220ºC. Tear over the mozzarella in chunks, then scatter over with the breadcrumbs with a bit more ground pepper. Bake for 20 mins until the chicken is piping hot through and the top is golden and bubbling. eat with mash, jacket potatoes, rice or pasta.