Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Spaghetti with sun dried tomatoes, basil and feta cheese

It's been such a wonderfully sunny day and I felt like the meal tonight had to have the taste of summer. This recipe delivered those flavours, fresh and fragrant without being difficult to make. Add some toasted pine nuts for a little extra something. 

Serves: 6

1 (500g) packet spaghetti
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed (I missed this out)
100g sun-dried tomatoes, softened and chopped
200g feta cheese, crumbled
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook spaghetti in boiling water until done  then drain. Return pasta to the pan.
Mix in olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and feta. Stir in basil, chilli flakes (if using), salt and pepper and serve warm.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Smoked Haddock and Chive fishcakes

The fondue was nice but a bit gimmicky for an everyday meal. I made a Swiss fondue with emmental and gruyere, recipes for this are widely available on the internet if you fancy trying one. I made the fish cakes the other evening for dinner.  This isn't a meal that can just be thrown together because of all the different stages involved, but if you have the time the end result is worth it. I bought frozen haddock pieces which could be cooked in the microwave and were surprisingly chunky, also a lot cheaper than fresh haddock. If you didn't have chives, you could substitute some chopped capers or grate in some lemon rind and add a bit of lemon juice for extra flavour. I made a lemon mayonnaise to dip the fishcakes in, they were so much better than the bland, potatoey ones you can buy. This is another meal that can be made in advance and cooked when you are ready. They can also be frozen. 

Makes 12-14
floury potatoes 1.2 kg, peeled and cut into chunks
trimmed leeks 250g, chopped
butter 50g
smoked haddock 600g
chives 2 tbsp of finely chopped
flour for dusting
eggs 2, beaten
dried breadcrumbs 150g

Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, then drain well and mash or push through a potato ricer into a bowl.
Cook the leeks in the butter with seasoning until really soft. Leave to cool.
Put the smoked haddock on a microwavable plate, cover with clingfilm and cook for 3 minutes, or cook in a little water in a covered pan, then drain well. Leave for 5 minutes, then flake into big chunks, discarding any skin or bone.
Stir the leeks and chives into the potato bowl, then fold through the haddock. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Form into 8 cakes and chill for 20 minutes.
Dust the cakes in flour, then dip them in the beaten egg and finally roll them in the breadcrumbs until covered.
To cook, heat a little oil in a pan, then fry for 4-5 minutes on each side until they are golden all over and piping hot in the middle.
If you want to freeze them;
Open-freeze the fishcakes on sheets of baking paper for 2 hours, then transfer to containers or bags and freeze until needed.
Follow the cooking instructions above once completely defrosted.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Chicken Kiev

Here's an old classic which is very easy to make. The recipe is from an old edition of Olive Magazine. I'm having another retro meal tonight in the form of a cheese fondue. I'll see what the kids make of that. 

Serves 2
dried breadcrumbs, 75g
butter 25g, softened, plus 2 tsp
chicken breasts, 2 large
soft cheese,25g
wild garlic a small handful of leaves, finely chopped (or 2 fat garlic cloves, crushed and mixed with 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley)
plain flour 2 tbsp
eggs 2, beaten
salad and shoestring fries to serve

Toast the breadcrumbs in a frying pan in 2 tsp butter until golden, then leave to cool.
Using a small, sharp knife, poke a hole into the side of each chicken breast at the thickest point. Carefully wiggle the knife inside, cutting a large pocket inside the breasts without widening the hole or poking the knife out at another point. Mash the butter, cream cheese and wild garlic (or garlic and parsley mix) together with some seasoning, then use your fingers to push half into each breast pocket. Dip each breast in some flour to coat, followed by the egg, then finally into the toasted breadcrumbs to fully coat. Chill for at least an hour (or make the day before and leave in the fridge overnight)
To cook, heat oven to 200⁰C. Sit the chicken on a non-stick baking tray and cook for 25 mins, or until cooked through (check by poking a skewer into the centre of the thickest part of the breast – it should feel piping hot). Eat with salad and fries, if you like.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Sumac spice crusted and green bean salad with spiced yoghurt dressing

This is just a perfect recipe for a summer salad. What was even more perfect about it last night was eating outside in the garden for the first time this year. I even had to open a bottle of wine to celebrate.  It can be made in advance and put together when you are ready to eat. The spicy chicken with the sweet pomegranate and the creamy yogurt dressing just complimented each other beautifully. I would highly recommend this recipe from this months Olive Magazine. I hadn't heard of sumac before now, but it seems to be widely available, I bought some in Tesco.

Serves 4 
skinless chicken breasts 4
extra-virgin olive oil 1 tbsp
aleppo (or regular) chilli flakes 3 tbsp (I didn't use anywhere near this amount)
sumac 3 tsp
ground cinnamon 1 tsp
ground cumin 2 tsp
pine nuts 40g

Yoghurt dressing
yogurt 100ml
milk 2 tbsp
white wine vinegar 2 tbsp
lemon 1, zested and juiced
dill chopped to make 1 tbsp (I didn't have this)
garlic ½ clove, crushed

green beans 300g, trimmed and some sliced
in half lengthways
red onion 1 small, cut into half moons
sumac 1 tsp
dill a few fronds, chopped (not essential)
pomegranate 1, seeded, or a tub of seeds
carrot 1 purple or orange, cut into ribbons

Heat the oven to 190⁰C Rub the chicken with the oil and season well. Mix the chilli flakes, sumac, cinnamon and cumin together then roll the chicken in the spices. Put the chicken onto a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes or until the chicken is very tender. During the last 4 minutes of cooking, sprinkle the pine nuts over. Remove and leave to cool.

Mix the dressing in a small bowl and set aside. For the salad, cook the beans for 1 minute in salted water, drain and refresh in cold water. Dry and arrange on a platter. Mix the onions with the sumac and spread over. Top with the dill, pomegranate and carrot. When the chicken has cooled, slice and arrange over the vegetables with the pine nuts. Serve with the dressing to pour over.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Kidney bean and red pepper burgers

Meat free Monday, and I made the kids the halloumi, chargrilled peppers, rocket and houmous brioche buns. I'd had one for lunch so I wanted something different. Finding a very wrinkled red pepper in the fridge I searched for a bean burger recipe on line. The result was much modified from the recipe to suit the ingredients I had, but it was  really delicious as a meat free meal. If I had made these especially for James he would have complained, but as I didn't offer him one at first he insisted on having one and tucked in enthusiastically.

Makes 6 burgers
1 can is kidney beans, drained and rinsed (the recipe was for black beans)
1 red pepper, deseeded
½ red onion
2 cloves of garlic 
Sprinkle of chilli flakes
½ tsp of cumin
1 egg
3 slices of brown bread made into breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to season

Heat the oven to 200⁰C. 
Mash the kidney beans in a bowl until relatively broken down. In a food processor whizz together the deseeded pepper, garlic and the half onion. Leave some substance to the vegetables, so don't blitz for too long. Add this to the kidney beans and mix well. Add the spices, egg and breadcrumbs and make sure everything is well combined. Shape into 6 patties and place on an oiled baking tray. Bake in the oven until crispy and cooked through, approximately 20 minutes. I served mine with a slice of fried halloumi on top. 

Note: I have just heated the two that were left over from last night in a frying pan with a little olive oil. Every bit as nice the next day and really tasty with a dollop of lime pickle on top.