Sunday, 25 May 2014

Proscuitto, mozzarella and rocket panino

These grilled sandwiches made a delicious supper a few evenings ago. For four sandwiches you will need 4 ciabatta rolls, 2 packets of mozzarella, a packet of rocket and some proscuitto ham. Slice the ciabatta in half and lay the mozzarella in thin pieces on one of the halves. Top with the a couple of slices of ham and a pile of rocket. Season and drizzle olive oil over the rocket. Using a griddle if you have one, a frying pan if not or even better a panini maker, heat the sandwich until the mozzarella starts to melt and the bread becomes toasted. 

Monday, 19 May 2014

Tonno e fagioli, tuna and beans

Not to be recommended if you are planning on getting up close and personal with someone, otherwise try it for an easy summer lunch. In the absence of cannellini beans I used chickpeas and I only had tinned tuna.

Serves 6
1 - 2 fat garlic cloves
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
600g canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 red onions thinly sliced into petals or 6 small spring onions sliced
400g best quality tuna 
A few handfuls of fresh basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the garlic on the chopping board, crush with the flat of a knife, add a large pinch of salt, then mash to a paste with the tip of the knife. Transfer to a bowl and add the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of oil and beat with a fork.
Add the baens and onions and toss genttly. Taste then add extra oil and vinegar to taste.
Drain the tuna and seperate into large chunks. Add to the bowl and turn gently to coat with the dressing. Top with the basil leaves anf black pepper to serve. 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Sweet Potato cakes

In future if I had the decison of making these again or just cutting up some sweet potato wedges, I think I might go with the latter. I liked them, but they were very messy to make and quite difficult to manouevre once they were in the frying pan. I did try to work with the sweet potato while it was still hot, the recipe does say to leave it for an hour to drain before mixing.  They may have been easier to make if the mixture had been cold. The recipe came from a cookbook called 'Plenty' by Yotam Ottolenghi. Saying that, as a meat free meal, they were substantial and flavoursome. 

Serves 4
1kg sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 tsp soy sauce
100g flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
3 tbsp spring onion, chopped
½ tsp fresh chilli, finely chopped (or more, to taste)
Lots of butter, for frying or oil

For the sauce:
50g Greek yogurt
50g sour cream (I left this out)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

Steam the sweet potato until soft, then drain in a colander for an hour. Meanwhile, whisk the sauce ingredients until smooth and set aside. In a mixing bowl, work all the fritter ingredients by hand - it should be sticky, so if it's a little runny, add some flour. Do not over-mix.
Dip your hands in water and shape walnut-sized balls with the fritter mix, then flatten so you have round cakes around 5cm in diameter and less than 1cm thick. Place on an oily surface.
Melt some butter in a nonstick pan. Using a fish slice, lift the cakes in to the pan and fry on moderate heat until you get a nice, brown crust, turning as necessary - about six minutes. Place between two sheets of kitchen towel, to soak up the excess butter. Serve hot or warm, with the sauce on the side and a crisp green salad.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Spicy pork and aubergine

There are some recipes I long to try, but I know that they wouldn't be popular with the children. I don't think they would have particularly enjoyed this one. I bought some aubergines with a vegetarian recipe in mind, I'll try it soon as it sounds lovely, it has mangoes and noodles, with a lime, coriander and basil dressing. Sounds perfect for summer. However last night I decided to try this one instead from the Goodfood website. The kids were out for tea and the sun was shining, we had our first meal in the garden this year in the warmth of the evening sun. The meal was perfect, not a curry as such, more like a North African tagine. 

Serves 4
1½ tbsp olive oil
2 onions, sliced
1 small aubergine (about 250g/9oz), trimmed and diced
500g lean pork fillets, trimmed of any fat and sliced
2 sweet red peppers, seeded and cut into chunky strips
2-3 tbsp mild curry powder
400g can plum tomatoes
150ml water
cooked basmati rice, to serve

Note: I added a red chilli for extra spiciness, fry it with the onions and aubergines if using.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan with a lid. Tip in the onions and aubergine and fry for 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and golden brown.
Tip in the pork and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown. Mix in the pepper strips and stir fry for about 3 minutes until soft.
Sprinkle in the curry powder. Stir fry for a minute, then pour in the tomatoes and water. Stir vigorously, cover the pan and leave the mixture to simmer for 5 minutes until the tomatoes break down to form a thick sauce (you can add a drop more water if the mixture gets too thick). Season with salt and pepper and serve with basmati rice.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Baked chicken and peppers with almonds

Meals like this are just the best when you're not in the mood for cooking. It's not really cooking, just a bit of chopping, mixing and assembling ingredients. The recipe is another from the Goodfood website, which I find a godsend when you are stuck for ideas. I left out the almonds as I didn't think they would be necessary. Also my husband has just had a brace fitted and is struggling with textures of food. 

Serves 4

500g boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 medium red onions, cut into thick wedges
500g small red potatoes, cut into thick slices
2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into thick slices
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp each ground cumin, smoked paprika and fennel seeds, slightly crushed
3 tbsp olive oil
zest and juice 1 lemon
50g whole blanched almonds, roughly chopped
170g tub 0% Greek yogurt, to serve
small handful parsley or coriander, chopped, to serve

Heat oven to 200C. Place the chicken, onions, potatoes and peppers in a large bowl and season. in another bowl, mix together the garlic, spices, oil, and lemon zest and juice. Pour this over everything and spread the mixture between 2 baking trays.
Roast for 40 mins, turning over after 20 mins, until the chicken is cooked through. Add the almonds for the final 8 mins of cooking. Serve in bowls with a big dollop of Greek yogurt and some chopped parsley or coriander.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Cheesy Nachos

I spent a lovely day shopping in London on Saturday with my daughter and my sister in law. We were in desperate need of a sit down and a cocktail by the time we had walked the entire length of Oxford street. We ordered a plate of nachos with our cocktail which I tried to recreate at lunch time today. I cut some flour tortillas into triangles and baked them in the oven until they started to crisp. I sprinkled them with cheddar cheese and chopped jalapenos and put them back in the oven until the cheese had melted. I used a ready made salsa, some half fat creme fraiche and a chopped avocado to top the nachos. I think the bar we visited used something else for the nachos as they were much crisper than mine, perhaps corn tortillas. However mine tasted wonderful. 

Friday, 9 May 2014

Tomato, pepper and orange soup

This is an extremely quick soup to make, using mostly store cupboard ingredients. A serving is only 120 cals which appealed to me, although eating chocolate cake after it kind of defeats the object. The recipe is from a book called '101 easy recipes, Low GI', by Lynda Brown, 

Serves 4
3 fresh rosemary sprigs (optional)
400g jar of roasted peppers
2 tsp golden caster sugar
1 litre of tomato juice (I used ½ litre)
4 very ripe plum tomatoes (I used a tin of plum tomatoes with the juice)
300 ml of chicken or vegetable stock
juice of a fresh orange

Pull the leaves from the rosemary sprigs and discard the twiggy stalks. Put the leaves into a food processor, add the peppers, sugar, half the tomato juice and the plum tomatoes and whiz together until slightly chunky.
Sieve the mixture into a pan (I didn't bother sieving it) and stir in the stock, orange juice and the remaining tomato juice. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Season with plenty of black pepper to serve.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Pasta with mozzarella, mint and tomato sauce

The other evening when my fridge was very bare I searched the goodfood website for a recipe with pasta,tomatoes and mozzarella. I was lucky enough to have the ingredients for this very fresh and summery pasta dish. I'm not much of a gardener but do have an abundance of mint, which is spreading like wild fire and some chives growing in the garden. It would make a lovely pasta salad to accompany a BBQ as well as being a meal in itself. 

Serves 4
zest and juice 1 lemon
1 red onion, very finely chopped
400g spaghetti (and pasta will work)
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
4 tsp small capers
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
pinch of sugar
500g red ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered
bunch mint, leaves torn
handful chives, snipped
1 or 2 x 125g balls buffalo mozzarella, depending on how lavish you feel


Put the lemon juice and zest into a large bowl, tip in the onion, then season with salt and pepper. Set aside for 10 mins, to let the onion soften a little.
Boil the spaghetti for 10 mins. Mix the oil, capers, chilli and sugar into the lemony onions, then season generously.
When the pasta is ready, drain, toss with a splash of oil, then let cool awhile. Put into the bowl with the dressing, tip in the tomatoes and most of the herbs, then toss well. Tear in the mozzarella and toss ever so gently. Put into bowls, top with more herbs and drizzle with more oil to serve.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Salt and pepper chilli prawns

This was another attempt at recreating a favourite starter from a local restaurant. I think it was just luck that I cooked the prawns for the right time and they were incredibly succulent. The coating on the prawns is extremely light and the flavours of the garlic, chilli and spring onions come together to make a wonderful dish which I'll be doing again soon. I found the recipe on the Ocado website. 

Serves 2

2 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp cracked black pepper
16 few drops raw king prawns, peeled and deveined
4 tbsp vegetable oil
3 fresh hot red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
6 spring onions, cut into 5cm pieces, then halved lengthways
1 splash dark soy sauce, to serve


In a bowl, mix together the cornflour, salt, and cracked black pepper. Add the prawns, and toss until well combined. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the chilli, garlic, and spring onions, and stir-fry for 3–5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and cover with a lid to keep warm while you cook the prawns.
Heat the remaining oil in a separate frying pan over a high heat. Add the prawns, and cook for 3–5 minutes, tossing them gently until they are completely pink.
Remove the prawns from the pan with a slotted spoon, and divide among 4 serving plates. Top with the chilli and spring onion mixture, and serve immediately with a splash of soy sauce.