Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Puff pastry tart with tomatoes, parma ham, asparagus and mozzarella

Sometimes the most simple of meals can be the most delicious. This was certainly one of those meals. I bought a pack of ready rolled puff pastry to which I just scored a line one inch in from the edge. I spread some tomato puree on the base and then sliced some tomatoes and spread them out evenly. I used parma ham, but any ham or pepperoni would be fine. I steamed some asparagus until just tender and placed this on top of the ham. Then I sliced some mozzarella and added this. I cooked the tart in a hot oven about 200ºC, for about 20 minutes, until the pastry was puffed up and golden and the cheese was bubbling. Serve straight away with a nice green salad.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Turkey escalopes with sweet potato wedges and mango salsa

A long time ago on my blog, probably one of the first recipes I posted, I wrote the recipe for breaded turkey escalopes and sage butter. This is just a variation on that recipe, and one that is always very popular as a family meal. For lunch today I made a mango salsa with a half a red pepper chopped, half a mango diced, a fresh red chilli, deseeded and chopped very small and the juice of a lime. It's a really refreshing accompaniment to a meal. I roasted some sweet potato wedges in olive oil with a sprinkling of paprika for about 30 minutes in a high oven. It's a really simple meal, but a very lovely one. 

Serves 4 
2 turkey escalopes per person 
2 eggs beaten
Natural breadcrumbs for coating
Rind of a lemon, grated (optional)

Hear some oil in a non stick frying pan.
Flatten the turkey escalopes if needed as they will fry much quicker.
Dip each escalope into the beaten egg then into the breadcrumbs, which will be seasoned and have the grated lemon rind in. Fry the escalopes in the hot pan until cooked through and the breadcrumbs are golden . 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Chicken with a tomato, caper and anchovy sauce

I had something very similar at a friends house last week and enjoyed it so much I wanted to try and recreate the dish last night. I didn't have the exact recipe, so I just had to guess what was in the sauce, but it was a pretty good attempt. I'll get the full recipe though just incase I missed anything out, but for now this is what I used. It's not too dissimilar to Hunters Chicken, which is one of my families favourite meals. I left this cooking at a low heat in the oven for about 4½ hours, but at a higher heat I would think it would take an hour or so. It would be a good slow cooker meal too. 

Serves 4 - 6
olive oil
2 packs of skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
4 anchovy fillets (more if you want a stronger flavour)
a splash of red wine (I only had Rose open, so I used that)
a heaped tablespoon of capers (or more depending on how much you like them)
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper for seasoning

Heat the oven to 180ºC. 
In a large frying pan or casserole dish heat the olive oil and brown all the chicken thighs. Remove from the pan and fry the onion and garlic until golden and softened. Add the anchovy fillets until they have started to disintegrate. Put the chicken back in the pan and add the tinned tomoatoes and capers. Add some black pepper and bring the dish up to simmering point. Once simmering place in an oven proof dish in the oven and cook until the chicken is well and truly cooked and tender. I don't think you can overcook this, but just make sure the sauce doesn't dry up. Check the seasoning and serve with lovely mashed potatoes or roast potatoes and greens. 

Friday, 13 March 2015

Caramelised fig and orange salad

I made a simplified version of this salad as an accompaniment to roast cod fillets wrapped in Parma ham last week. I loved it, and I'll look forward to trying it with the feta cheese as a meal on its own sometime soon. I don't think that the dressing particularly needs pernod or another liquer, any salad dressing would be good with such lovely flavours. 

100g caster sugar
16 fresh figs, cut in half lengthways (530g)
4 medium oranges, topped and tailed, peeled and sliced into 1cm-thick rounds (750g)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1½ tbsp raki, Pernod or another aniseed-flavoured liqueur
1 tsp aniseed or fennel seeds, lightly toasted
1 garlic clove, crushed
80ml olive oil
200g feta, roughly crumbled into 1cm chunks
1 tbsp oregano, small leaves whole and larger ones chopped
60g rocket
coarse sea salt and black pepper


Place a large frying pan on a medium heat and add half of the sugar. Leave for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it turns a golden caramel; don’t stir the sugar at this stage. Once nice and golden, add half the figs, cut side down. Cook for 2 minutes until starting to soften, before turning to cook for a further minute. Remove from the pan and add the second batch of figs and repeat the cooking process. You might need to add a tablespoon or two of water to the pan if the figs aren’t very juicy.
Add the remaining sugar to the pan, return to the heat and let it start to caramelise before adding the oranges and leaving for 1 minute on each side. They should take on a rich caramel colour. Remove and add to the plate of figs.
Take the caramel off the heat and whisk in the lemon juice, alcohol, aniseeds or fennel seeds, garlic, ¾ teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Once combined whisk in the olive oil and set aside.
Arrange the oranges and figs on a large platter and dot with the feta pieces. Drizzle over any juices left on the fruit plate followed by the dressing. Sprinkle with the picked oregano and rocket and serve.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Mary Berry's Chocolate Sponge Cake

If you want a really good chocolate cake that is extremely easy to make, then look no further. The recipe is from the wonderful Mary Berry, who I have recently enjoyed watching in the very funny episodes of the Celebrity Bake off. 

Serves 8

50g cocoa powder
6 tbsp boiling water
3 free-range eggs
4 tbsp milk
175g self-raising flour
1 rounded tsp baking powder
100g baking spread or soft butter
300g natural caster sugar

For the icing and filling
150g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
150ml double cream
3 tbsp apricot jam
icing sugar sugar, to dust

Alternative buttercream icing, which I used, 

125g of butter, melted with 4 tablespoons of water. Once melted, add 28g of cocoa powder and 280g of icing sugar. Beat until you have a smooth buttercream, add more icing sugar if it seems too runny. 


Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line two 20cm/8in sandwich tins with baking parchment.
Put the cocoa powder and boiling water into a large bowl and mix well to make a paste. Add the remaining ingredients and beat again until combined. This can also be done in a food processor, but take care not to over whisk. Divide the cake mixture between the prepared tins. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until well risen and shrinking away from the sides of the tin.

Meanwhile, for the icing and filling, measure the chocolate and cream together in a bowl and stand the bowl over a pan of simmering water for about 10 minutes, or until melted. Stir from time to time. Set aside and leave until cool and almost set.

Once baked, remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool completely. Spread the tops of each cake with apricot jam. Fill the cakes with half of the icing and spread the remainder on top. Draw large “S” shapes over the cake with a palatte knife to give a swirl effect. Dust with icing sugar and serve in slices.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Baked mushrooms with goats cheese and rocket

If Jamie Oliver can promote Meat Free Mondays, so can I. This was from a book called 'Quick Cook One Pot', which as the name suggests are all quick and in one pot. It was popular with 3 members of the family, but as James is not a great fan of mushrooms, he did well to enjoy everything but them. 

Serves 4
500g new potatoes, halved
3 tablespoons of olive oil
200g portabello mushrooms ( I used more)
2 tablespoons of chopped thyme
125g cherry tomatoes
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
50g goats cheese (I used more)
75g rocket
25g toasted pine nuts

Heat the oven to 220ºC. Place the potatoes in a roasting dish and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook for about 20 minutes, turning once. Add the mushrooms, stem side up and the cloves of garlic to the tin. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle over the rest of the olive oil. Add chunks of goats cheese on top of each mushroom.
Put back in the oven and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes until the potatoes and the mushroom are cooked. Scatter over the pine nuts and serve with the rocket.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Caesar Salad

My daughter Rachel said this was heaven on a plate. Now that is a massive compliment and recommendation. It's an easy salad to make if you buy cooked chicken breasts. You could even buy ready made croutons if you wanted to save time. 


Serves 2
2 cooked chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
Any crisp lettuce, little gem or iceberg
Any white chunky bread, ciabatta, sourdough, cut into chunks
2 anchovy fillets
1 clove of garlic
5 tablespoons of mayonnaise
A handful of grated Parmesan
Juice of half a fresh lemon
Black pepper to season

Crush the garlic clove in a pestle and mortar, add the anchovy fillets to make a paste. Mix this with the mayonnaise and the lemon juice to make a creamy dressing. Season with black pepper.
Fry the chunks of bread in some olive oil, until golden and crisp.
Put the shredded lettuce in a bowl with the chicken and dress the salad until evenly coated with the sauce. Add the croutons. Serve with some Parmesan sprinkled on top and a grinding of black pepper.