Monday, 21 November 2016

Mary Berry's Lemon Chicken with chives

This is clearly not a photo of my food tonight, I have resorted to using the one from the website. It was a lovely meal but my photo didn't look particularly appetising. My chicken wasn't browned like the chicken above, I assume that's had a little extra browning after cooking for a more attractive food shot. I would make it again, we all really enjoyed it, although I couldn't get a hold of fresh chives, so I used dried, which didn't have that lovely strong flavour. I substituted the full fat Creme fraiche for half fat in attempt to reduce the calories.

25g (1oz) butter
8 chicken thighs, skinned, bone in
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, roughly chopped
25g (1oz) flour
300ml (½ pint) hot chicken stock
finely grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
4 tbsp full-fat crème fraîche
3 tbsp snipped fresh chives

● Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a high heat, add the thighs and brown all over until golden. Season with salt and pepper and then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
● Add the onion to the pan and fry for 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour, add the hot stock and bring to the boil, stirring all the time.
● Add the rind and juice of the lemons, and return the thighs to the pan. Season again and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer over a low heat for about 35-45 minutes, or until the thighs are tender.
● Stir in the crème fraîche and nearly all the chives.
● Serve with mashed potato or rice and sprinkle over the remaining chives.
Can be made up to a day ahead and reheated on the hob – add the crème fraîche and chives when reheating. Freezes well.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Salted caramel and banana pavlova

I couldn't resist posting this photo of the dessert I made last night. I bought a jar of salted caramel sauce and folded this through the whipped cream. After topping the cream with banana I heated some more of the caramel sauce and poured over the dessert just before serving. 

I still maintain that pavlovas are one of the easiest desserts to make and the quickest, and they also look so very impressive, whatever they are served with. 

For the recipe, here is the link, Pavlova

Monday, 17 October 2016

Chicken Souvlaki

How colourful is this meal? Having had a holiday in Greece this year and seeing this meal on every menu in every restaurant we went to, it was nice to be able to recreate a really lovely and easy version the other night. The kids were extremely enthusiastic about it, which is always a bonus these days. 

Serves 4
4 chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Juice of 2 lemons
Splash of olive oil
A sprinkle of dried oregano

1 Red pepper, chopped into chunks
1 red onion, chopped into chunks
Olive oil

Heat the oven to 190C.  
Chop the chicken breasts into pieces and marinade with the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and oregano for at least 30 minutes. 

Either, fry or griddle the chicken pieces until nicely browned. Quickly fry the red pepper and red onion until just starting to cook. If you have skewers thread on the chicken, pepper and red onion repeating the process along the skewer.  Place the skewers in the oven to finish off the cooking for about 10 minutes. If you don't have seekers you can  just continue to fry until the chicken, peppers and onion are cooked through in the pan. 

Serve the skewers with warm flatbreads, and Greek yoghurt. Avocado is an optional but very nice accompaniment. 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Nigel Slater's Chocolate Apple Betty

When your mum has abundant apples on her tree it's a shame not to use them up. I used to make this recipe a lot years ago and the other evening with little time to make a pudding for a dinner party, and a bag full of apples, this was just perfect. Apples, dark chocolate, crunchy syrupy breadcrumbs, just a wonderful combination. It's a really easy and lovely Autumn pudding. The recipe is from Nigel Slater's 'Real Food'.

Serves 4-6
1kg Bramley apples, peeled and cored
30g butter
125g soft white breadcrumbs
100g light soft brown sugar
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
75g butter, melted
3 heaped tbsp golden syrup

Cut the apples into large chunks, put them in a pan and toss with the butter and a couple of tablespoons of water over a moderate heat. When the apples start to soften but are still keeping their shape, tip them into a 1.5 litre baking dish.
Mix the crumbs, sugar and chocolate and cover the apples loosely with the mixture. Melt the butter with the golden syrup in a small saucepan, then pour it over the crumbs, making certain to soak them all. Bake in an oven preheated to 190ºC for 35 mins, till the apple is soft and the crumbs are golden and crisp.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Jamie Oliver's Summer Chickpea Salad

I haven't posted in a long while and its time for me to get back into the swing of things. I was searching my blog for this recipe the other day and realised that I hadn't posted the recipe for this lovely salad previously. Its one of my favourite salads, its great on its own, or as a side dish at a BBQ. I made it on Sunday to accompany roast chicken and roast potatoes at a family gathering. The recipe below is just a guideline. I added cucumber and I used coriander, I also added a tin of cannellini beans. Its great for lunch with some ciabatta to mop up the wonderful flavours. 

1 small red onion , peeled
1-2 fresh red chillies , deseeded
2 handfuls ripe red or yellow tomatoes
1 lemon
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
410 g tinned chickpeas , drained, or around 4 large handfuls of soaked and cooked chickpeas
1 handful fresh mint , chopped
1 handful fresh green or purple basil , finely ripped
100 g feta cheese

First of all, finely slice your red onion. Once that's done, finely slice your chillies then roughly chop your tomatoes, mixing them in with the onion and chillies. Scrape all of this, and the juice, into a bowl and dress with the juice of half a lemon and 3 tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil. Season to taste. Heat the chickpeas in a pan, then add 90 per cent of them to the bowl. Mush up the remaining chickpeas and add these as well – they will give a nice creamy consistency. Allow to marinate for a little while and serve at room temperature.
Just as you're ready to serve, give the salad a final dress with the fresh mint and basil. Taste one last time for seasoning – you may want to add the juice from your remaining lemon half at this point. Place on a nice serving dish and crumble over the feta cheese.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Mustard and lemon Chicken with roasted potatoes

This is a recipe from a book called 'Falling cloudberries', by Tessa Kiros. I think I've talked about it before, it's gorgeous book to look at even if you don't cook any of the recipes. I have to admit I didn't cook this meal, my husband Steve did, but he said it was very easy to make. We had it on a Sunday with friends when we didn't want a full Sunday roast, but still wanted something substantial.  This was a perfect compromise. 

Serves 4
    4 or 5 large potatoes, peeled
    2 heaped Tbsp. grainy mustard
    Juice of 2 lemons (save the squeezed lemon halves)
    1 Tbsp. dried oregano or thyme, crumbled
    4 Tbsp. olive oil
    1 3lb whole chicken (or chicken breasts, bone-in)
    1-2 red onions, peeled & cut into wedges
    2 bay leaves 
    garlic cloves, with skin left on
    1/2 cup white wine


Preheat oven to 180C. Halve the potatoes lengthwise, then cut them into 3-4 pieces so they look 
like giant french fries.

Mix together the mustard, lemon juice, oregano and olive oil to make a marinade. Put the chicken, 
potatoes, onion wedges, bay leaves and 4 garlic cloves in a large oven dish. Season the potatoes and 
chicken (outside and in the cavity) with salt & pepper. Put 2 of the squeezed lemon halves and remaining garlic in chicken cavity. Splash the marinade over the chicken and potatoes, tossing them around with your hands so they are well coated. Gently pour a cup of water into the dish (trying not to wash off the marinade). Roast for about 1 hour.

After an hour, the top of the chicken should be getting brown. Pour the wine over the top, turn the potatoes and onions and roast for another hour, turning the chicken when it is well browned on top. Check that the potatoes are still in a little liquid. If they look dry, add more hot water.

The chicken should be golden brown, juicy and cooked through. If it seems done but you think the potatoes might need longer, remove the chicken to a warmed platter. The potatoes, however, should not be crispy but golden and juicy, and there should be a little sauce in the dish to serve with the chicken. If it is dry, add some hot water to the dish and scrape bits from the bottom and sides to make more sauce. Serve hot or at room temperature. .

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Asparagus and Prawn Risotto

Don't be afraid to try to cook a risotto, they are not difficult. As long as your'e on hand to keep ladling in the stock and make sure the rice is not sticking. I used a white onion instead of shallots and used just one pack of asparagus. The recipe is from the BBC food Site. I enjoyed this so much I'm making it again tonight for my sister. 

Serves 4 
2 small shallots, peeled and finely chopped
3 tbsp of unsalted butter
350g risotto rice
1 glass dry white wine
up to 2 litres of vegetable or fish stock, kept hot
20 asapargus, steamed until just tender, spears removed
200g/7oz cooked peeled prawns
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
a few whole, hot, steamed asapargus and a handful of cooked, warm prawns, to garnish

Fry the shallots and the butter together until the shallots are cooked and soft but not browned. Add all the rice in one go and stir it around with the other ingredients to toast the grains thoroughly without browning.

After about 5 minutes of toasting, add the wine, and stir it in for about 2 minutes. hen add the first 3 ladles of hot stock and stir it through.

Continue to add the stock and stir it in each time the spoon opens up a clear wake behind it during the cooking process.

After about 15 minutes, which is five minutes from the end of the cooking time, add in the asparagus spears and the prawns and continue to cook the risotto, taking care not to destroy the asparagus spears or the prawns. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.

When the risotto is cooked (the rice grains are firm to the bite but cooked, and the texture is creamy), remove from the heat and stir in the rest of the butter. Cover and rest for 4 minutes, stir again and transfer to a warmed serving dish to serve at once, garnished with the extra asparagus and prawns.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Slow cooker Asian pulled pork with ginger, five spice and coleslaw

You just can't go wrong with this meal (unless you switch the slow cooker off 3 hours early to whip cream). This was my second time of making it and it was perfectly cooked. Wonderfully tender meat which did pull apart, with gorgeous juices to pour over it, served in a brioche bun with sweet potato fries and coleslaw. And hopefully there's plenty left over for sandwiches for the next few days. 
I made a simpler version of coleslaw with cabbage, carrots, red onion and mayonnaise. 
The recipe is from 'How to be a better cook',  by Lorraine Pascale. 

Serves 10-12
5 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp mild or hot chilli powder
3 tbsp five-spice powder
2 tbsp light muscovado sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3kg boneless pork shoulder, rind removed

3 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
½ red cabbage, very finely sliced
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
2 red chillies, deseeded for less heat if preferred, finely chopped (optional)
Large handful of fresh coriander leaves (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
10-12 buns, split open and toasted

Place the soy sauce, chilli powder, five-spice, sugar, garlic and ginger in a large slow cooker and mix together well to give a sloppy paste.
Sit the pork shoulder in and, getting your hands in, massage the spice mixture well all over the pork.
Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8–10 hours or until the meat is so tender you can shred it with a fork.
Close to serving time, make the slaw. Mix the sesame oil and soy sauce together in a large bowl. Toss the cabbage, onion, carrot, chilli (optional) and coriander, if using, through until well mixed. Season to taste with pepper.

Once the pork is ready, shred it with a fork and serve. It is delicious piled into toasted sesame buns with the spicy slaw.
If you would like to serve it with a sauce, then bubble the cooking juices in a large wide pan on a high heat for 10–15 minutes until reduced and thickened slightly. Season to taste with pepper.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Duck Breast with Morello cherry sauce

I'm feeling that my posts are few and far between theses days, so here is a very easy meal I cooked a few weeks ago. 

I bought two duck breasts and a jar of Bonne Maman Morello Cherry jam in Tesco. Duck is not something I eat very often at home, but I would choose it in a restaurant for a change. I felt this was restaurant quality for a fraction of the price. It was so easy too. 

Heat the oven to 180ºC. Score the fat of the duck and season with salt and pepper. Put the duck breasts in a pan without oil and fry the duck skin side down until brown and crisp about 6-8 mins. Turn the duck over and sear the other side in the sizzling fat for 30 seconds.  Place the duck breasts skin side up in a warm roasting dish in the oven and finish cooking, about 5-6 mins for pink or 10-12 mins for well done.  Meanwhile put a few heaped tablespoons of cherry jam in a saucepan with some red wine and seasoning and gently heat. Cook the vegetables of your choice. It is important to let the duck rest once it is out of the oven for about 10 mins, wrapped in foil. Once the duck has rested, slice into large slices (so it doesn't cool too quickly), put on a warm plate and pour over the sauce and add your vegetables. Enjoy the wonderful sweetness of the sauce with the gaminess of the duck. 

Monday, 30 May 2016

Sunken Nutella cake with Baileys Cream

I met with friends for lunch on Saturday, which as usual turned into a slighty longer meet up than planned and wine was consumed. I was in a slight panic at 5pm with 4 friends coming around for dinner and not having prepared a morsel. This is the first time I have made this cake from Olive Magazine and given the rushed circumstances it was very successful and it was very well received. It has a wonderfully squidgy consistency, and will be added to my list of gluten free cakes. My main course was a leg of lamb with lemon and oregano, with potatoes roasting around it, soaking up the butter and dare I say the fat from the lamb. I can't tell you how delicious the potatoes were. I didn't photograph it, but I'll do it again soon and post the recipe. 
I didn't make the Baileys cream do go with the cake, but I imagine that would be a great accompaniment.

Serves 10-12
butter 175g, diced plus extra for greasing
cocoa for dusting
dark chocolate 150g, broken into chunks
Nutella 200g
light muscovado sugar 150g
ground hazelnuts 125g
eggs 6, separated
hazelnuts 25g, chopped

double cream 300ml
Baileys 4 tbsp
icing sugar 1 tbsp plus extra for dusting
sea salt ¼ tsp (optional)

Heat the oven to 180ºC. Butter and lightly dust with cocoa a 22-23cm round cake tin with a springform or loose bottom, tipping out the excess. Put the chocolate, Nutella, sugar and butter in a big saucepan and melt slowly over a very low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat to stir in the ground hazelnuts then egg yolks, one at a time.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then spoon a third of the whites into the chocolate mixture and mix in well to loosen it. Gently fold in the rest of the whites with a big metal spoon or spatula.

Scrape the mixture gently into the tin, scatter with the chopped hazelnuts and bake for 30-35 minutes until the top surface is crisp but doesn’t feel quite set underneath. Cool completely.

To serve, remove the cake from the tin and dust with a little cocoa plus pinches of icing sugar if you like. Put the double cream, Baileys, 1 tbsp icing sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk until thickened and just holding its shape. Cut the cake into thin slivers and serve with spoonfuls of the cream.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Bacon, egg and new potato Caesar

I kept putting this meal off this week as I thought it might not go down very well. But as I had all the ingredients for it, I decided to go ahead and make it for tea tonight. Everyone was starving early this evening apart from me. So we ended up eating ridiculously early. We'll find we start getting hungry again in a couple of hours time. Hide the chocolate biscuits and Nutella spread. Rachel is mid GCSE's and is comfort eating. I am reminding her she has a prom dress to fit in, in less than a month. Exciting times. The recipe is from the June edition of Olive Magazine, and we all loved it. 

Serves 2 
150 g baby new potatoes 
6 slices of streaky bacon 
1 romaine lettuce 
2 poached eggs 
A handful of chopped chives (fine without)

4 tablespoons of half fat crème fraîche 
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
half a teaspoon of Worcester sauce
half a clove of garlic crushed 
25 g of finely grated Parmesan 
juice of half a lemon

Cook the new potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes, then drain and cool. Grill the bacon until crisp. (I fried mine)
Mix the crème fraîche, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and Parmesan with a squeeze of lemon juice and a splash of water and season. Toss the potatoes and lettuce with the dressing and divide between two plates. Top with the bacon broken into pieces, an egg and a sprinkling of chives.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Hairy Dieters, Chickpea, Hot-Smoked Salmon and Pomegranate salad

Each mouthful was an explosion  of flavours, from the sweetness of the pomegranate, the freshness of the cucumber, the smokiness of the salmon and the middle eastern flavour of the harissa paste. A perfect salad to eat in the sunshine. 

Ingredients, Serves 4
1 pomegranate,
1/2 cucumber, 
400g can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
1/2 medium red onion (finely sliced), 
2 ripe tomatoes (each cut into 12 chunks), 
15g fresh coriander leaves (roughly chopped), 
20g bunch flatleaf parsley (chopped), 
150g skinless, hot-smoked salmon

1 tsp runny honey,
1 tsp harissa paste, 
2 tsp lemon juice, 
1 tbsp. olive oil, 
flaked sea salt,
ground black pepper

Cut the pomegranate in half. Hold each half over a bowl and bash the back with a wooden spoon to dislodge the seeds – you may need to help some of them out with a knife or spoon. Put the seeds and any juice in a serving bowl. Peel the cucumber in long strips, leaving a little skin between each strip, then quarter lengthways and cut into 1.5cm slices.
Tip the chickpeas into the bowl, add the onion, tomatoes, cucumber, coriander and parsley and mix well. Flake the fish into chunks on top of the salad.
To make the dressing, put the honey, harissa and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk with a small metal whisk or a fork to combine. Add the olive oil, season with salt and ground black pepper and whisk until thickened. Spoon over the salad and toss lightly to serve.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Mary Berry's Tuna and Spinach Linguine

This pasta dish is full of delicious fresh flavours and was popular with everyone the other evening. My friend had cooked it for me previously from the 'Foolproof Cooking' book by Mary Berry.  It might be another cook book I'll have to invest in.  I used spring onions in place of the shallots. 

Serves 6

350g linguine
2 x 200g tins of tuna in olive oil, drained, flaked and oil reserved
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tinned or bottled anchovy fillets, finely chopped
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp drained baby capers
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
225g baby spinach leaves, coarsely shredded
salt and freshly ground black pepper

finely grated zest and juice of 1 small lemon
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the linguine and cook according to the packet instructions, then drain.
Meanwhile, measure 2 tablespoons of oil reserved from the tuna tins into a large frying or sauté pan. Add the garlic, anchovies, shallots and chilli and fry over a high heat for 5-6 minutes until the shallots have softened. Add the capers, cherry tomatoes and spinach leaves and toss until the spinach is just wilting.
Tip the drained linguine and the flaked tuna into the pan. Season with a little salt and pepper and carefully toss together until combined, adding more oil if the mixture seems too dry.
Tip into a serving bowl and sprinkle with the lemon zest and juice and grated Parmesan to serve.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Orange and almond cake

I made this cake yesterday for the first time. It's not going to be one of my favourite cakes, but if you prefer cakes not too sweet and fussy, and simple to make, this could be for you. I have posted a recipe for an almond and orange cake in the past which I would say was far nicer than this one. The recipe is from '101 cakes and bakes', GoodFood magazine. Perhaps making an orange syrup by melting orange juice and icing sugar and pouring all over the cake when warm would have given the flavours a little lift. 

Serves 12

1 medium orange
175g butter, softened
175g light muscavado sugar
3 eggs
175g self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50g ground almonds
Icing sugar, for dredging

Preheat the oven to 190ºC
Butter and line the base of a 23cm/9 inch round deep cake tin. Cut the whole orange – skin, pith, flesh, the lot – into pieces. Remove any pips then whizz the orange pieces in a food processor to a finely chopped puree.

Tip the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, bicarbonate of soda and almonds into the food processor and whizz for 10 seconds until smooth. Pour into the prepared tin and smooth the top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cake is risen and brown. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Dredge thickly with icing sugar before serving.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Hairy Dieters Jerk Chicken

This tasty little number from the second Hairy Dieters cook book had been catching my eye for a while. I finally got around to trying it a week or so ago. I made extra and it was lovely cold the day after. 

Serve 4 - 6

2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
lime wedges, to serve
flaked sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

6 spring onions, trimmed and roughly chopped
20g chunk of fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2–3 scotch bonnet chillies, stalks removed (I used regular chillies)
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
(or 1 tsp dried thyme)
1 tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1½ tbsp dark soy sauce


To make the marinade, put all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz to make a thick purée. You’ll need to remove the lid and push the mixture down a couple of times with a rubber spatula until you get the right consistency.

Put the chicken on a board and trim off as much fat as you can with good kitchen scissors. Slash each thigh a couple of times with a sharp knife, put them all in a bowl and season with a little salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Tip the jerk marinade on top and mix well, then cover and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 220°C, and line a large baking tray with baking parchment. Place the chicken on the tray, shaking off any excess marinade as you go and shaping the pieces back into neat thighs if they have opened out during marinating.

Bake the chicken for 25 minutes or until it is all thoroughly cooked, deep golden brown and charred in places. Serve hot or cold with lime wedges for squeezing and a large mixed salad. You could also serve small portions of rice if you like.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Sticky Ginger Cake with Ginger Fudge Icing

I've just finished a piece of this cake. I couldn't wait, it was still a little warm. It's just one of those cakes that you just savour with each mouthful and wonder why you haven't made it more often. I just gave my nephew Max a piece, he took a bite closed his eyes and just nodded his head, it said it all really. It's from a book called '101 cakes and bakes', by good food magazine, and it's years since I made it last, I have a feeling I won't leave it so long til next time . 

Serves 16
200g unsalted butter
175g molasses sugar
3 tbsp black treacle
150ml milk
2 large eggs
4 pieces stem ginger drained from syrup and chopped
300g self raising flour
1 tbsp ground ginger

for the icing
4 tbsp ginger syrup drained from jar
300g golden icing sugar
140g unsalted butter softened
2 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 160C
Butter and line 23cm round tin
Gently melt butter, sugar, treacle
Cool briefly then stir in milk
Beat in eggs and add chopped stem ginger
Stir in flour, ground ginger and pinch of salt
Combine thoroughly
Spoon mixture into tin and level surface
bake for 35-40 mins or until firm and risen (don't worry if it cracks slightly on surface)
Cool in tin for 1 hour then transfer to wire rack
Skewer the top of the cake and pour 2 tbsp of the syrup over.
Beat together icing sugar, butter, lemon juice, and remaining ginger syrup and spread thickly over cake

Friday, 11 March 2016

Jamie Oliver's vegetarian chilli

Last week I made a spaghetti bolognaise with quorn mince in an attempt to cut down on our meat intake. I wasn't impressed, even with all the flavours of the sauce the meal was just edible. I'm not sure if it was the texture or the lack of flavour of the quorn but somehow it didn't hit the spot with any of us. I guess the answer is if you want to eat vegetarian food just use vegetables and this recipe proved that theory right. Forget any preconceptions of a veggie chilli you may have and give this try. It's spicy from the chilli beautifully aromatic with the flavours of the coriander, cumin, cayenne and cinnamon and feels very healthy. Ok, I did have a dollop of Creme fraiche and some tortillas on the side, but even so, I'm sure it's good for you. Jamie Oliver has gone mega healthy all of a sudden, so I believe him when he says it's packed full of good stuff. 

The following day I added some vegetable bouillon stock and broke up some of the larger vegetables and made a delicious soup with the leftovers. 

The link to the recipe is as follows. Jamie's veggie chilli. 

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Mary Berry's Thai Chicken Curry

The lovely Mary Berry was preparing this Thai chicken curry for a party on her Foolproof cooking programme the other night. I made it for dinner last night, the sauce was rich and creamy with just the right amount of spiciness.  It's a meal that would need planning as the ingredients are not things you would normally have to hand, but I think it's worth the planning. I would think that a green curry paste would work too. 

Serves 8
6 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
3 tbsp Thai red curry paste
3 tbsp sunflower oil
2 onions, sliced
4cm/1½in knob of fresh root ginger peeled and finely grated
1 tbsp plain flour
2 x 400g tins full-fat coconut milk
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 tbsp light muscovado sugar
1 lemon grass stalk, bashed (see tip)
4 Kaffir limes leaves
250g/ sugar snap peas, cut in half lengthways
½ lime zest and juice
1 x 225g tin water chestnuts drained, halved and quartered if large
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut the chicken breasts in half and then into long thin slices. Tip into a bowl and add 1 tablespoon of the Thai curry paste, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the sunflower oil in a deep frying pan, add the chicken slices and fry over a high heat for 5 minutes until just cooked through – you may need to do this in batches. Transfer the cooked chicken slices to a plate.
Add the remaining oil to the pan and fry the onions for 3 minutes. Cover with a lid, lower the heat and cook for another 10 minutes to soften.
Increase the heat and add the ginger with the remaining Thai curry paste and fry for a minute. Sprinkle in the flour and blend in the coconut milk with the fish sauce and sugar, adding a little at a time. Stir the mixture and bring to the boil. Add the lemon grass and lime leaves and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Return the chicken to the pan, bring back up to the boil and then cover, reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until piping hot.
Meanwhile, cook the sugar snap peas in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, drain and refresh in cold water.
Remove the lemon grass and lime leaves from the curry and discard. Add the lime zest and juice, water chestnuts and sugar snap peas. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and serve with rice.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Nigella Lawson's, Nutella cheesecake with toasted hazelnuts

There are certainly no looks of disappointment when this dessert is served for dinner. What's not to like? It's so easy to make, with no baking, just blending and chilling. The recipe is from the "Nigellissima", cookbook.

Serves 8 - 10
250 grams digestive biscuits
75 grams soft unsalted butter
1 x 400 grams jar nutella (at room temperature)
100 grams chopped toasted hazelnuts
500 grams cream cheese (at room temperature)
60 grams icing sugar (sifted)

Break the digestives into the bowl of a processor, add the butter and a 15ml tablespoon of Nutella, and blitz until it starts to clump. Add 25g/3 tablespoons of the hazelnuts and continue to pulse until you have a damp, sandy mixture.
Tip into a 23cm/9inch round springform and press into the base either using your hands or the back of a spoon. Place in the fridge to chill.
Beat the cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth and then add the remaining Nutella to the cream cheese mixture, and continue beating until combined.
Take the springform out of the fridge and carefully smooth the Nutella mixture over the base. Scatter the remaining chopped hazelnuts on top to cover and place the tin in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight. Serve straight from the fridge for best results.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Jools Oliver, Asian style salmon

A great recipe from Jamie Oliver's website. The flavours were fresh, tangy and sweet and once the marinade was made, the meal was very straightforward. I followed the recipe up to the grilling point as my grill isn't great. Instead I roasted the whole salmon fillets for about 20 mins at 190ºC drizzled with a bit of the marinade. 

Serves 2
1 clove of garlic
1 x 3cm piece of ginger
1 lime
3 tablespoons low-salt soy sauce
1 tablepsoon runny honey
1 teaspoon groundnut oil
2 x 120 g salmon fillets
1 tablespoon sesame seeds , optional

You will need: 2 large or 4 small skewers

For the marinade, peel and crush the garlic into a shallow bowl. Peel and finely grate in the ginger, followed by the zest of half the lime. Next, add the soy, juice from half the lime, the honey and oil and mix together well.

Preheat the grill to medium and line a baking tray with tin foil. Check that there aren’t any stray bones lurking in the salmon fillets, then cut them up into 2.5cm cubes. Toss them in the marinade and leave for around 10 minutes to absorb the flavour.

Thread the salmon onto 2 large or 4 small skewers (soak them first, if wooden), but don’t push the pieces too tightly together, then place onto the tray. Grill for around 8 to 10 minutes, or until beautifully glazed and cooked through, turning regularly and brushing with leftover marinade.

Meanwhile, toast the sesame seeds (if using) in a dry non-stick frying pan until golden, then tip onto a plate and leave to cool. Once cooked, transfer the skewers to a plate and sprinkle with the toasted same seeds (if using), dunking the cubes of salmon in any that escape onto the plate. Cut the remaining lime into wedges for squeezing over. Delicious served with plenty of greens and brown rice or noodles.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016


No I haven't made that name up, it's a recipe I found in the January edition of Olive Magazine. It was perfect for using up lots of odds and ends in the fridge. I added some chorizo and used a fresh green pepper (you know, the one you always leave from the pack of mixed peppers), instead of the roasted red peppers from a jar. I served it with some roast new potatoes which were massively out of date and still tasted absolutely fine. 

Serves 4
onion 1 large, chopped
garlic 2 cloves, crushed
olive oil
roasted red peppers 2 from a jar, sliced
sweet smoked paprika 1 tsp
ground cumin 1 tsp
mild chilli powder ½ tsp
plum tomatoes 400g tin
sugar a pinch
eggs 4
flat-leaf parsley a handful, chopped (I used coriander)

Heat a large frying pan with a lid. Cook the onion and garlic in 2 tbsp olive oil until soft, then stir in the peppers, spices, tomatoes and sugar and simmer for 10 minutes. Make 4 dips in the mixture with the back of a spoon and crack an egg into each.

Put the lid on and cook gently until the whites are set and the yolks cooked how you like them. Scatter with parsley and serve with bread or toast.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Smoky tomato and black bean soup with loaded nachos

Yes, quite a lot of ingredients, and yes a little time needed to prepare, but a really lovely soup with gorgeous flavours. I wasn't sure how the black beans would go down with James, but he cleared his bowl and asked for seconds, unfortunately there wasn't seconds. The recipe is from the latest Olive Magazine. 

Serves 4 
1 onion chopped
1 clove of garlic crushed
Olive oil
½ tsp Ground cumin
½ tsp paprika
400g chopped tomatoes
400ml chicken stock
400g tin of black beans, drained

Loaded nachos
12 natural tortilla chips
100g grated cheddar
1 diced avocado
4 tbsp soured cream
4 sliced radishes
2 spring onions shredded
Coriander chopped to make 2 tbsp
1 red chilli seeded and finely chopped
Lime wedges for squeezing

Cook the onion and garlic in 1 tbsp of oil until softened. Add the spices and cook for a minute, then add the tomatoes and stock. Cook for 10 minutes then whizz with a stick blender until smooth. Add the beans and simmer for another 10 minutes. 
To make the nachos, spread the tortillas on a baking tray and top each with a little cheese. Grill until the cheese melts and then sit the tortillas on the soup, pile on the rest of the toppings and add a squeeze of lime. 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Nigel Slater, a year of good eating

What a lovely start to a cook book, here is a man so passionate about food. I look forward to trying some of the recipes soon. 


We are not here for long. So let's at least make ourselves something good to eat.

A lovingly kneaded loaf; a casserole of beef, garlic, thyme, stock and onions you have left to it's own devices in a slow oven; a salad that crunches and crackles  with young, spring leaves and sprouted seeds. A sandwich maybe, it's hot filling of roast pork and crackling peeking tantalising from between two pieces of bread. A fool. A tart. A sticky rib. The possibilities are infinite. 

Chicken with Nandos peri peri salt

My kids love Nando's, it's their favourite haunt if they're meeting up with friends. Me, I've only been once and I can't say I was that impressed. Seeing the peri peri salt in tesco's, I thought I'd recreate the meal at home for them. I got a huge thumbs up for tea last night and clear plates all around. 

I halved some chicken breasts and sprinkled some of the peri peri salt on them. I fried them in olive oil until they were golden and crispy. I cooked some frozen frites in the oven with a sprinkling of the salt. Serve with a crusty white bun, some little gem lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and a dollop of Mayonaise. Place the chicken in the bun and pile on the fries. 

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Hairy Dieters Sausage with Rich Onion Gravy

Happy New Year, I hope it's a happy and healthy one for everyone. Here's a recipe that needs no introduction, the ultimate in comfort food, sausages and mash. Perfect winter fuel. This version is from the Hairy Dieters book, "Eat for Life". Like most people I need to cut back a bit in January, so both the Hairy Dieters books will be well used in the forthcoming months. 

Serves 4
½ tsp sunflower oil
8 lean pork sausages
1½ medium onions, thinly sliced
300ml of beef stock
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp cold water
flaked sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Brush a non stick frying pan with the sunflower oil and fry the sausages over a medium heat for 5 minutes, turning occasionally until they are golden brown all over. Add the onion to the pan, turn down the heat slightly and fry for 8 -10 mins, or until the sausages are cooked and the onions are softened and golden brown, stirring regularly.

Put the stock into the pan, add the ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook for 3 mins, stirring occasionally.

Mix the cornflour with the cold water until smooth. Stir this mixture into the pan with the sausages and return to a simmer, then cook for 1 -2 mins more until the sauce is thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with accompaniment of your choice.