Friday, 11 December 2009

Mustardy Cauliflower Cheese

A hearty winter take on an already comforting dish. Last night I wanted to make cauliflower cheese with a bit of a twist.

1 Medium Cauliflower - cut into florets
2 Leeks - sliced finely
2 Carrots - chopped
1/2 pt Bechamel Sauce
Dijon Mustard
1 cup Grated Cheddar cheese
Olive oil

Par boil the cauliflower, drain and leave to cool in a colander so that all the leftover water can drip away. Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the carrots and leeks until soft add S&P. Make up your white sauce, nice and thick - add into it 2 good teaspoons of Dijon mustard and half of the cheese. Put the Cauli and other veg into a oven dish, pour over the mustardy sauce and bake in an oven for 20mins at 200oc adding grated cheese 10 mins before end.

This dish turned out wonderfully, so warming and tasty, perfect with our sausages and mash.
A great way to use up leftover veg.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Pork & Chilli Goulash

This is a brilliant recipe to scale up and do for a crowd of people. It can sit in the oven for hours until you are ready for it. Taken from the Jamie Oliver Cook at Home book a very pleasing and hearty dish. These quantities feed 4-6.

Pork & Chilli Goulash

2kg Pork shoulder, off the bone, skin off, fat left on.
2 Red onions - slices
2 Fresh chillies, de-seeded and chopped
2 Heaped tablespoons mild smoked paprika
2 Tsp Caraway seeds
Small bunch Marjoram or Oregano
5 Peppers - Capsicum/bell peppers - mixture of colours - sliced
280g jar of grilled peppers, chopped
400g can plum tomatoes
4 tbs red wine vinegar.

Heat the oven to 180oc. Heat a large ovenproof pot on the hob. Score the fat on the pork, season with S&P, cook the pork fat side down in a glug of olive oil for 15 mins on medium heat to render the fat. Remove pork.
Add onions, chilli, paprika, caraway seeds, marjoram/oregano leaves and more S&P. Lower heat and cook for 10 mins.
Add the peppers, grilled peppers and tomatoes.
Put the pork back in the pot and mix. Pour in enough water to cover the meat.
Add the vinegar.
Bring to the boil and place in the oven for 3 hours or so - the meat is cooked when it pulls apart with two forks, if it does not, then pop it back in the oven for longer.
I serve it all pulled apart on a large serving dish, with boiled rice and soured cream and some chopped parsley.

Fish Pie

I have always loved fish pie, but sighed at the thought of having to poach the fish before hand, leave it to cool then flake the fish, whilst making a bechamel sauce and boiling the potatoes. It would always end up with a very fishy smelling kitchen and could be rather messy so I made them infrequently.

Until that is, I thought - why do I need to poach the fish? ... tradition? hmm maybe, its what my Mother and Grandmother both did, so I thought I would start a new tradition.

I have spoken many times of Gordon our great Fishmonger, he was once asked why his fish pies were so much better than the ones the person asking made, he replied "that's because I put twice as much fish in as you do". I remember those words when making my Firsh Pies.

Fish Pie

Fillet of Smoked Haddock - undyed
Fillet of Cod or Coley or any other white fish
Large Salmon Steak
Handful of prawns
Couple handfuls Frozen Peas
Homemade bechemel sauce - butter, flour, milk, pepper
Finely chopped parsley - enough to suit.
Mashed potatoes
Grated Cheese - I know its fish and cheese, but hey, I love a crispy cheese topping on mash.

Oh, so simple. Oven on at 200oc. skin and de-bone the fish.
Cut into hearty chunks, they keep their shape once cooked, giving you something to bite into.
Boil your potatoes and mash.
Make up your white sauce - usually its around 3/4pt, add chopped parsley.
Pour the sauce over the fish and prawns and peas, mix well.
Add the mash to the top with cheese if you wish.
Pop into oven for 25-35mins.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Best Ever Spaghetti Bolognaise

Hubby with low tolerance levels made another unexpected but welcome trip into the kitchen over the weekend. Whilst I was out shopping and failing miserably with any inspiration for presents he was getting all creative. Having listened to Nigel Barden on the Chris Evans Drivetime show on Radio 2 with his best ever Spaghetti Bolognaise recipe, Hubby decided to take this and customise it. Details of which are below:-

Spaghetti Bolognaise
Would probably serve 6 if you can bare letting anyone else have any!

500g Beef Mince
500g Pork Mince
200g Chicken Livers - Chopped (Hubby used 400g, great for me as I love liver, but too much for others)
2 Onions - Sliced
3 Carrots - Grated
3 Stalks Celery - Finely Chopped (Did not have in Hubby's, but he would recommend it for next time)
3 Cloves Garlic - Finely Sliced
500g Passata
150g Pancetta (Not included in Hubby's, but again he would recommend it next time)
400g Tinned Chopped Tomatoes
1 Tbs Tomato Puree
2 Tsp Thyme (dried)
1 Tbs Parsley (dried)
3 Bay Leaves
3/4 pint Stock

Sweat the onions in a little oil until translucent.
Add the mince and fry until almost dry.
Add everything else and mix well.
Bring to the boil.
Simmer or place in a low oven (130oc) for 3 or more hours, stirring occasionally. Hubby had it in the oven for almost 5 hours.

It really was the best ever Spag Bog I have had, there were leftovers after we'd had second helpings, so we scoffed those the following day as part of a Sloppy Joe Bagel, totally scrumptious and well worth the wait.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Old School Chocolate Crunch

When you think back to your school days and the school dinners, what is the first thing you remember? I think for a lot of people it is the Chocolate Crunch or Chocolate Concrete as is was often referred to.

I loved school dinners, thankfully I was at school a long time before the dreaded Turkey Twizzlers and chips with everything farce. We had well balanced, freshly produced food, none of this processed frozen ready to slam in a microwave crap. School dinners where were you learned to love food and expand your palate. At home if you whinged enough your Mum would end up giving you fish fingers, but at school, especially infants & primary you ate what was before you and you did it because your peers were eating it. So you had dishes like liver and bacon, ragout and baked fish on a Friday, but what you really, really looked forward to were the puddings - Jam suet pudding and custard, ginger cake with icing and of course chocolate crunch and green custard.

Once those schools days were gone, so were the meals contained within. A distant memory thought of fondly over time. Well I have a confession, my Grandmother was a head cook at a school in Perry Barr, Birmingham and when she retired she took with her the 1970 School Meals Handbook, chock full of nutritional tips, food plans and of course the recipes!

So without further ado here comes the recipe to re-live your childhood to.

Chocolate Crunch

8oz Plain Flour
6oz Fat - This recipe works better if the fat is margarine or a mix of butter and marg.
6oz Sugar
1oz Cocoa Powder
1 Egg
Dash Vanilla Essence

Melt the fat in a pan, don't get it too hot. Add it to all the dry ingredients and mix. Pour in the beaten egg and mix well.

Press the mixture into a baking tray so it is about 3/4" thick.

Draw a fork over the top to create a checked patterned the brush over with a little water and sprinkle a little extra sugar on top.

Place in an oven at approx 150oc for 15 mins approx.

To test if the crunch is done press the top and it should still be fairly soft and slightly crisp at the edges. If you wait until the entire cake is firm then you have gone too far and you will end up with 'concrete' once it is cooled.

Remove from the oven and scored the cake into slices and leave to cool before removing from the tin, don't forget until the fat has re-solidified it will be extremely friable.


Friday, 23 October 2009

Slow Baked Lamb Hearts & Stuffing

I want to talk offal today! Really, it is so underrated and can give you such a cheap and delicious dish if cooked right. Take lambs hearts 4 for £2.
Ok they look a little scary and a little too much like our own but, once you have cut out the tubing you are left with a perfect pouch for stuffing.

I like to make up a batch of sage and onion PAXO stuffing (if you wish, make your own with whatever grabs your fancy, but I am a girl all who like the easy way of life so good old PAXO for me) I add in to the mix a lightly fried chopped onion, just because I can and lots of pepper. Leave the stuffing to cool and then stuff it inside the hearts.

There will be leftover stuffing so either make up balls to add to the dish or to baked them separately.

Take an OXO beef stock cube and make up some stock, arrange the hearts in a tight fitting oven proof dish, pour the stock over, till it covers the hearts about halfway up. Season a little more and then cover with foil or a lid. Pop into the oven at 160oc and cook for approx 2 hours, occasionally turning the hearts so the don't burn and all parts get a chance to bathe in the gravy.

The sauce will reduce and thicken with the stuffing that falls out, but that just makes it super unctious.

The hearts will be tender, but still firm, like liver. Utterly scrummy and packed full of flavour and certainly a hearty winter dish (excuse the pun). So get your heads around offal and give it a try.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Luscious Lemon Baked Cheesecake

Hubby with low tolerance levels was rather miffed when after three days I had still not told you all how wonderful and thoughtful he is. Well he is.
He and his colleagues are having a bit of a hectic and tough time at work and with us leaving for a holiday in Menorca this Friday, I can imagine that there was more chaos than usual as he tries to palm his workload off onto others.

So Mr. Thoughtful took over and decided on feeding the colleagues with unctuous grub to cheer them up. Now Hubby does not enter into the kitchen that often, he claims he does not enjoy cooking that much, this from the only guy in his Home Ec. class at school - he claims he only took the class as a way to get all the juicy gossip from the girls - I am not so sure.

Anyway, you may have noticed that I rarely make any sort of desert or cakes - I find the the fact that most sweet recipes need to be followed closely - rather like chemistry in order to create the desired dish, I am much more from the chuck it together and see if it works school of cooking, but Hubby with his finely honed engineering mind likes the precise quantities, concise instructions to be followed to achieve the desired result so when he does venture into the kitchen it is usually to produce a cake. Monday night was one of those occasions.
He had received requests for a Lemon cheesecake and chose this baked one from the BBC Good Food website.

Well, pictures were taken, but I have not got the camera with me to download them, but will rectify this at a later date, but I can assure you it looks just like the piccy taken from the website. Now rectified and actual piccy posted, still in the tin, but he didn't want it to spoil on the jouney into work!

The Cheesecake was taken into work and scarfed down by appreciative colleagues, leaving a couple of portions to come back home for me to enjoy.

He is now under orders to bake a couple more for the Christmas period as I know my family will adore this lovely lemony, cheesy, firm pudding. Total Yum!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Curried Chicken Tagine

After the ad hoc tagine meal my brother and I created in Holland a couple of weeks ago it got me thinking that I should drag out my tagine again and cook something different in it. Normally I cook lamb dishes slowly or homemade meatballs in a tomato sauce in my tagine, but I thought why not a chicken? The recipe needs a bit refining and probably would have been aided by not having a knock at the front door just as I was frying spices which subsequently ended up a little burnt, but on the whole it was alright.

1 small corn fed FR Chicken
1 Onion chunky sliced
2 cloves sliced garlic
1 heaped teaspoon each of ground coriander, cumin, turmeric and curry powder - mixed together
Chicken stock
1 cup cous cous
Handful spring onions
Handful chopped parsley

Heat the oven to 190oc and place the tagine in to warm with some water inside.
I took a huge knife and cut the chicken in half length ways. Coated it in half the spices and seasoning. Added the chicken halves skin side down into a frying pan with oil in until the skin was crispy and brown, turn to get all the chicken sealed.

Remove the chicken a place to one side whilst you add the onions, garlic and remainder of the spices to the frying pan - at this point don't burn it like I did! Add the chicken stock approx 2 cups worth and bubble away for a while.

Transfer the onions and stock to the hot tagine (having removed the water first) place the chicken halves on top, cover and put back into the oven for 45mins. Next time I think I will try adding olives or lemon pieces to give a tang.

After this remove the tagine lid and continue cooking for a further 15 minutes to crisp up the skin.

Whilst this is crisping make up your cous cous, 1 cup of cous cous per one cup of hot stock, cover with cling film and leave for 10 mins. It will end up light and fluffy, stir in the chopped parsley and spring onions.

Remove the chicken from the tagine and place onto a heap of the cous cous, thicken the remaining sauce slightly with a little flour or tomato puree and pour over.

The chicken remained very juicy and tender with this way of cooking, certainly will try this method again.

Chorizo, Vegetable & Mozzarella Pasta Bake

As you all know or can tell from my previous posts I have a great love of Chorizo, Aubergine, Cheese and Pasta and I am always on the look out for a new recipe combining all these ingredients, so I have pilfered from the great site A Pot of Tea and a Biscuit the following recipe for Chorizo, Vegetable & Mozzarella Pasta Bake, I took on board suggested alterations and combined them to make the recipe below:-

Olive oil
250g Chunky chopped chorizo
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 aubergine
350g Penne Pasta
125g Mozzarella ripped into chunks
1/2 cup grated cheddar

Heat oven to 200oc

In a frying pan add the chopped garlic to heated oil, frying for 30 seconds and before burning the garlic add the tomatoes, I then added a teaspoon each of Marjoram and Oregano. Add a little bit of sugar to take the sharpness out of the tomatoes and season. Simmer the sauce whilst you get on with the veg.

I cut the aubergine length ways into 4 and the same with the pepper, popped them skin side down into the frying pan with a dash more of oil and fried them for several minutes until they started to get a blackened skin, then turned them over for a few more mins.

Whilst all the simmering and frying is going on the pasta can be cooked in boiling water until al denté. Once drained mix with the tomato sauce in a baking dish.
Cut the cooked vegetables into bite sized chunks and mix into the pasta.

I lightly pan fried the chorizo to release all the fat from them, but before they got crispy added them to the pasta.

Topped the dish with the mozzarella and cheddar and baked in the oven for 20 mins.

Scummy, not drowning in sauce, the cheese was molten and stringy, the aubergines had a wonderful char grilled flavour.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Lamb Tagine with Sundried Tomatoes

I think was so cold at the weekend as mentioned in my last post as I had just come back from a spur of the moment trip to visit my Brother and family on Holland for my Nephew's 10th Birthday and they were having glorious weather 28oc clear blue skys and hot sunny days - it was just like being on holiday - 5 days there and I did not want to return. There was lots of glorious food on offer - I have already told you how wonderful my sister in law is at cooking so I was looking forward to a great rest and indulgence, until my brother told me that he wanted to expand his little cooking repertoire and that we were going to cook a lamb tagine. Now if he had given me warning I could have prepared a suitable recipe, but as it was I had to play it by ear. I don't think we did too bad a job.

Lamb is not a popular meat in Holland, but we did find a Butcher who had a frozen rump of Lamb - 1.5kg (their cuts are slightly different to ours) so once thawed I got Dan (the Bruv) to cut into chunks, along with a large onion.

Then pan fried them in oil with random spoonfuls of spices Cumin, Paprika, Coriander.

Pour over a jar of passata 500ml and season. Adding a couple of teaspoons of sugar to take the sharpness out of the tomatoes.

Transferred to a warmed Tagine and the into the over at 150oc for 2 hours, then we added a jar of sun dried tomatoes and returned to the oven for a further 1/2 hour.

Served with a huge bowl of cous cous cooked with a vegetable stock and lots of finely sliced spring onions.

The meat was lovely and tender and although codged together it turned out tasty enough and not too spicy for the kids to enjoy.

Lamb Shoulder with Shallots

Autumn has sprung upon us! Not the usual stealthy drift from sunny summer days to lazy Autumn warmth - No this was a subtle as a brick - 1st of September cold, blustery weather knocking all the leaves off the trees. I think even the weather was fed up with the truly awful Summer we had endured and decided on a clean break into Autumn.

Shh, don't tell hubby but I had to put the heating on briefly yesterday as I was so cold, but it did mean that I felt justified in defrosting a half shoulder of lamb ready for a long slow cook - perfect Autumnal comfort food.

I got a pack of shallots - approx 20 fairly small and sweet, peeled them and put them in the bottom of a lidded ovenproof pan.
Seasoned and oiled the lamb popped it on top of the shallots, tossed in a few sprigs of rosemary added some chicken stock - up to halfway covering the lamb and the into the oven at 160oc for 2.5 hours.

Remove the lamb and some shallots onto carving dish and then I put it back into the oven turning the heat off - this gave enough time to brown the meat on top and leave it to rest with out drying it out.

With the remainder of the shallots and stock, which are pretty mushy at this point, mush them up even further and add flour and further seasoning to make a lovely sweet and herby gravy. Served with crushed potatoes and peas (I know, I know my favourite accompaniments).

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


Am I alone in my love of peas?
Am I by myself in thinking that pretty much every dish can be improved by a handful of frozen green spheres?
I know so many people who dislike peas, but I say what is there not to love, chuck a few in to a seemingly fat laden, unhealthy slut of a meal and it is immediately redeemed into being vaguely healthy and with one of your five a day.

All hail the mighty Pea.

I am a little sad that the podded pea season is drawing to a close for another year, but am truly thankful for the bags of little green balls of sunshine sitting in my freezer.

To prove my point I took a very simple spag bog and turned it into a colourful pasta bolognase with the aid of peas, chunky cut red peppers and chopped mushrooms, served on a bed of Riccioli - my new favourite pasta shape. Voila!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Family BBQ

As mentioned in my previous post, whilst my brother and his family were over from Holland we held a little family soiree - mainly because we never seem to get together enough. Whilst not everyone was able to attend at such short notice we got a pretty good turn out.

The weather was terrible - as expected, but luckily Mum & Dad found a very large marquee which was great to house most of us away from the rain.

Food wise I prepared some of my Chicken Chompers and Smokey Bacon & Tomato Tart, a wonderful wild rice salad which I will have to make again as I forgot to take any pictures of and will post the recipe for it when I do. We also had Anita's delicious marinated belly pork strips and potato salad along with three single ribs of beef which were cooked on the BBQ and turned out wonderfully rare and were a real treat.

I had also been to see Gordon the Fishmonger a few days before to order a whole salmon, when I explained that I had never poached a whole one before and the reason why I wanted it he very kindly offered to poach, skin and put it on a platter for me at no extra cost - what an absolute star he is! Hubby then spent a long while putting slices of cucumber for scales on it and adding a plethora of shell on prawns to the dish - turned out well.

I must offer my thanks to Jo, Stu's sister for bringing two homemade cakes with her - just perfect for afternoon tea before everyone left. The recipe for her light lemon soaked sponge will be on here shortly, once I have made it.

On the day of the soiree, it did chuck down with rain, but we all had so much fun, together again after so long and in some cases I had not seen family members for over 10 years that we did not even notice the weather. I was totally worn out at the end of the day, too busy chatting and making sure everyone else was fed and watered to eat to drink much myself - luckily there was enough of the beef sliced wafer thin to make a sandwich with lashings of horseradish sauce.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Duck Braised in Orange Juice with Star Anise

Busy, busy couple of weeks, my brother and his family have been over from Holland and trying to organise a last minute family party took its toll on my time, but I have plently of recipes to post later on that, for now I just had to post this one dish.

We were catching up with Rick Steins Far Eastern Adventure, so many brilliant dishes, but he said that if we only cook one dish from the whole series then make it this one - we were hooked. I had in the freezer a Gressingham Duck waiting for a special occasion and a special recipe.

Duck Braised in Orange Juice with Star Anise

1 Duck, cut into serving pieces
2 tsbp Vegetable Oil
3 Cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3cm Root ginger, peeled and sliced
3-4 Spring onions, cut into 4cm lengths
6 Star Anise
3-4 whole Chillies, I used 2 super hot small green chillies, would have used red birdseye if available.
1 Stalk lemongrass, bruised
2 tbsp Fish sauce
1 tbsp palm sugar or soft brown sugar
Juice of 3-4 oranges
Liberal grinding to black pepper

Fry the duck pieces in oil until the fat is rendered and the skin brown and beginning to crisp. Pour off all but a tablespoon of fat.
Add garlic and ginger and stir, then add the orange juice, enough to not quite cover the duck. Add fish sauce, star anise, lemongrass, sugar and chillies along with a ground pepper. Stir and simmer covered until the duck is tender - approx 1 hour.

Add the spring onions about 10 mins before the duck is finished.
Remove the duck pieces and lay on a bed of rice (I used basmati). Remove the lemongrass and Star Anise. Mix cornflour with a little water and pour into the sauce to thicken. Spoon over the dish add a little garnish of chopped spring onion stalks.

What can I say, this was the most delicious dish ever, I was sorry when it was finished. Definitely a dish to be remembered and tried out for a dinner party - certainly has the wow factor.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Rhubarb Bellini

A quick upload. Taken from one of Jamie Oliver's cookbook, but recommended by my friend Rebecca.

Rhubarb Bellini

Serves 6 (although, we found that we got a lot more out of it)

300g Rhubarb - chopped
75g Sugar

Put the rhubarb and sugar in a pan with a couple of tablespoons of water. Bring to boil and simmer for several minutes until a mushy consistency.

Remove from heat, cool slightly. Place in a blender or use a handheld one and whizz until smooth.

Spoon a couple of teaspoons worth into champagne flute, top up with chilled Cava, Fizz or Prosecco.

Sit back and relish just how damn good this is. Beware they are so tasty you will wolf them down forgetting that it is alcoholic!

Smoky Cheese & Onion Tart

A very tasty, simple flan that does not need to be blind baked! Taken from the BBC Good Food Website

Smoky Cheese & Onion Tart

6 rashers smoked bacon - chopped
3 onions thinly sliced
300ml double cream
500g block of shortcrust pastry
140g strong cheddar, half grated remainder crumbled
1 egg, beaten
140g cherry tomatoes, halved
knob or butter

Heat the oven to 200oc. Melt butter in frying pan and add bacon, sizzle until starting to crisp. Add onions and sweat for 10 minutes until soft, golden & sticky. Pour in the cream remove from heat and leave to cool a little.

Roll out pastry on floured surface till it fits in a baking tray (slightly larger than A4 size). Roll the edges to create raised border.

Pour creamy onions into a bowl add the grated cheese and most of the beaten egg, spread over the pastry. Scatter over with the tomato halves and crumbled cheese, brush borders with remainder of egg add a general grind of pepper. Bake for 20 minutes until golden - leave to cool and cut into squares. Perfect for nibbles, picnics, served with salad.

Monday, 20 July 2009


An indulgent Sunday morning brunch dish. I came across so many different versions of this recipe, the one I remember from my childhood had sultanas in, but this recipe from The Good Food Magazine is light, non-sticky or stodgy and very tasty.

Serves 4

10oz Smoked Haddock fillet - preferably undyed
2 bay leaves
1/2pt Milk
4 eggs - boiled for 4 1/2 mins then cooled.
Handful Chopped Parsley
Handful Chopped Coriander
2 tbs Vegetable Oil
1 Large Onion, finely chopped
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp Curry Powder
10oz Easy-cook long grain Rice - previously rinsed thoroughly in water

Heat oil in a large pan, gently fry the onion until softened. Add the spices and season and a pinch of salt, fry for a few minutes until fragrant and changing colour to brown.

Add the rice and stir well, add 600ml water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to stand with the lid on for a further 10 minutes.

Put the haddock and pay in a frying pan, pour over the milk and poach for 10 minutes. Remove from milk and peel off skin and flake into chunks.

Peel the eggs and quarter length ways. Mix the rice, fish, eggs, coriander and parsley, serve warm.

Chicken Chompers

We were invited round to a friends for a BBQ at the weekend and I decided to bring a faithful standby, a recipe that has served me very well for party food - Chicken Chompers. The recipe originally came from an Ainsley Harriot cook book.

4 x Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 tsp Black Peppercorns
4 x Garlic Cloves
2 tbs Coriander Leaves
1 tsp sugar
1 x Lime - Juice
1 tsp Fish Sauce - Nam Pla
1 tsp Light Soy Sauce
2 tsp Oil
Skewers soak in water

Grind the peppercorns, garlic and coriander with a pestle & mortar until a paste. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend well.

Slice the chicken breasts - I manage to get about 10 strips from each breast, depending on size, the aim is for a mouthful or two size when cooked. Add these to the marinade and leave for at least an hour.
The thread one strip each onto the skewers and either place on BBQ or I tend to cook them in a frying pan with low sides beforehand, that way although cold they are ready to take to the party.

To go wit this there is a Chili Dipping Sauce, where you heat 3 floz of red wine vinegar and 3oz of caster sugar in a saucepan until dissolved, boil and then simmer for 3 mins. Add 2 finely chopped and de-seeded chillies and a pinch of salt and leave to cool.

A lovely afternoon was had by all, with lots a varied and delicious food available, the chompers as always did not let me down and were very well received.

Pork with Broad Beans in Mustard Cream Sauce

A lovely easy dinner dish that does not contain either onions or tomato sauce - very unusual with my recipes!

Pork With Broad Beans in Mustard Cream Sauce

2 Pork Loin chops - cubed
2 handfuls of podded broad beans
1 handful mushrooms
2 tsp grain mustard
150ml double cream

I pan fried the pork in a little oil until just browning the edges. I had previously blanched the broad beans and added them to the dish along with the mushrooms which had been roughly chopped, then added the mustard and finished off with the double cream, letting it boil for a few minutes. Serve over rice. Picture pretty bad - but we were hungry!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

BBQ Rib of Beef

Sun, Sun, Sun and what better way to celebrate than to drag out the old BBQ.
So after a rather hot and
clammy day in the office I shamelessly stole this recipe from Girl Interrupted Eating. and went to enjoy the early evening in the garden. This is not so much a recipe as a different way to cook an expensive bit of meat.

I bought a lovely fat marbled rib of Beef, left it to get to room temperature before seasoning with salt and pepper. Heated up the BBQ and as usual could not wait until the coals got completely white and ashy, so I ended up putting the meat on whilst the heat was probably too fierce. There were a fair few flames as the fat dropped onto the coals so a spray of water is required to keep them under control. Keep turning the meat frequently for approx 20 minutes - if you like it rare. Then importantly remove from BBQ and cover in foil to rest for at least 20 minutes.

All the juices had poured out of the meat and it had relaxed making carving like cutting through butter. A lovely crisp caramelised outer with rare tender succulent meat in the middle - perfect.
So as not to detract from the meat, I made a simple salad similar to Girl Interrupted's of new potatoes with broad beans, half a finely chopped onion mixed with mayo and a dash of salad creme
I would like to say that we had some left for sandwiches but being the gluttons we are we guzzled the lot!!!! It was so delicious, just melted in the mouth - drool. It was a test run and I now feel happy that I could cook this for a more formal Sunday lunch.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Basque Chicken

Saturday night brought myself and my Hubby down to my parents house, on the pretext of keeping my Mother company whilst my Father is in Hong Kong, but really so that we could watch the Rugby Lions lose in the 2nd test match and therefore the series - boo ;(.

To compensate I cooked one of my most favourite dishes ever - Delia Smiths' Basque Chicken (along with drinking a fair bit of pink fizz and giggling like schoolgirls with my Mum).

Basque Chicken
Serves 4

8 pieces of Chicken - skin on and bone in
Approx a 12cm length of Chorizo cut into 5mm chunks
1 large onion - cut in to chunky slices
2 large red peppers cut into chunky slices
1/2 jar of sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic - chopped
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp Tomato Puree
1 cup of Basmati Rice
Salt & Pepper
1 1/2 glasses of White Wine
300ml Chicken or Vegetable Stock
1 Large orange cut into 8 slices
Handful of pitted black olives (not added to this dish in deference to Ma's dislike)
Olive oil

Heat the oil in a large shallow paella pan, cook the chicken skin side down until golden and crisp, turn and seal the other side.
Remove from the pan and put to one side. In the pan then add the onions, garlic, chorizo and peppers, gently fry for a few minutes.
Pour in the Rice and make sure it is completely coated in the oil.
Then add the wine to deglaze the bottom of the pan, pour on the stock, sun dried tomatoes and tomato puree, season and mix.
Place the chicken and orange pieces back on top and olives. sprinkle over a pinch or two of mixed herbs - I used Oregano and Marjoram.
Cover in foil and leave to simmer for 50 minutes, occasionally stirring to avoid the rice sticking on the bottom, add more stock or wine if it gets too dry.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Pan Fried Pork & Mushrooms

After my revalation yesterday and with a concerted effort I made a dish that did not contain a tomato sauce or onions. Although incredibly simple, it was very tasty.

Pan Fried Pork & Mushrooms

Serves 2

2 Pork Loins - Sliced in strips
A couple of large handfuls of sliced closed cap mushrooms
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp Flour
1 Chopped clove of garlic
200ml Vegetable stock
1 tbsp Oil

Place the flour, pork, rosemary in a large poly bag add salt and pepper, shake up to fully coat the meat.

Heat half the oil in a large frying pan, add the pork and cook for 5 minutes, turning once until they are golden brown with crispy edges - remove from pan.

Add the remaining oil and sliced mushrooms, fry for a couple of minutes then add the chopped garlic and return the meat to the pan along with any flour remaining in the bag.

Add the stock and simmer away for 5 minutes.
I served with runner beans and crushed new potatoes.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Baked Basa on New Potatoes

Whilst filtering through all the photos I have taken of recent meals, figuring out which one to post, I was concerned to find that I have a bit of a fetish for one pot dishes involving a tomato based sauce, most frequently with rice or pasta.
It seemed to me that all my good intentions at the start of the year to cook more new varied and interesting recipes have fallen by the wayside - I was a little disappointed in myself, but I did manage to create a new super easy dish that is not tomato based although it is one pot as follows:-

Baked Basa on New Potatoes

This really is so simple and so very delicious and works well with the old "I have nothing in the fridge" dilemma.

Slice a large onion into rings around 3mm thick.
Slice a large red pepper the same
Slice enough new or other small potatoes to the same thickness.

Pop the into a roasting tin with a glug or oil, season well and add a little Marjoram or favourite herbs to suit.

Mix together well and place into the oven at 200oc for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes remove and place on top of the mix two frozen fish fillets (I used 2 Basa fillets from a value pack by John West - having never seen Basa before I thought I would give it a go, they are dense meaty white fish and very tasty).

Cover with foil and place back in the over for a further 20 mins.

Take out and serve. Simples.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Mustard & Marjoram Chicken BBQ

Yes, I know I am a bad person, not posting for so long. I have a pile of pictures waiting to be uploaded with a suitable amount of verbage and recipe, but it is just getting round to it that seems to be the problem, so I will start off with something nice and easy today.
Last night the garden beckoned us with it's glorious warm sunshine, the end of the working day feeling and good book and barbecue. I mooched around the fridge to see what could be thrown on and decided on two plump free range corn fed chicken breasts - perfect.

I mixed together some fresh chopped Marjoram, a crushed clove of garlic the zest of a lemon (retrospect, it should have been only half a lemon) a dollop of wholegrain Mustard around 2 heaped teaspoons and a dribble of oil to lubricate.

I eased the skin away on the breasts and pushed some of the mixture underneath, with the rest going inside the breast which I had sliced halfway through.

These were then placed skin side down on a medium BBQ for 25 mins - we have a kettle BBQ so with the lid on the chicken remains moist and tender.

Along with the chicken I made up parcels of baby courgette and baby plum tomatoes a little oil and seasoning and loosely wrapped in tin foil, these too were place on the BBQ for 20-25 mins.

The final accompaniment were some crushed new potatoes with a little butter and grated cheddar. Not bad for a summery spur of the moment dish.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Summer Breeze

Again it has been far too long since I last posted. An uninteresting diet of mixed salad, potato salad and something charred from the BBQ have taken over recently, it allows more time out in the glorious weather that seems to have hit Britain. My racks of pork ribs are going down a storm and at less than £3 for a rack more of a bargain than the individual ribs on offer.
Talking of the glorious weather last week Hubby had Whit week off work, we had nothing planned so spur of the moment we jumped into the car and drove to Cornwall. What a brilliant time we had - drive where ever takes your fancy, (we chose Mevagissey, Penzance and Port Issac) find accommodation in one of the many pubs or B&B's and enjoy. All I ate the entire time we were there was seafood - mussels, bass, bream, calamari, cod and pollock and maybe the odd cream tea and full English for breakfast - yum, yum and thrice yum. Took no photos of the gastronomic delights available - in fact I think my camera - Big H had a bit of a scenic view overload and is now in poorly camera hospital with a dodgy shutter, luckily I had a backup to continue snapping with.
But now it is back to work just as the weather turns, but I will leave you with a couple of pics of Cornwall along with a dish I made prior to holiday.
Gilt Head Bream steamed in foil.
2 Bream, scaled and cleaned. Stuff with lemon, bay leaves, thyme salt and pepper.
pop into a pocket of oiled tin foil, pour in a splash of White wine.
Seal the pocket up, place on a tray and put into the oven for 20mins at 200oc.
Simple but very delicious. I served with boiled Jersey Royal Potatoes and green beans.
Minack Theatre
Mevagissey Harbour
Sennen Cove

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Tuna Rice

Wow, almost a month since my last entry. This is not because I have not been cooking or eating, but more likely, most of the food cooked I have already blogged about or it has been rather mundane, I did not have the time or inclination to try anything new or exciting over the past month, oh and yes we also spent a week in France and Bruges sampling far too many delicious meals and copious amounts of red wine.
There were several pots of moules and frites and a couple of Flemish Stew, a rich and unctuous beef and beer dish, I must find a recipe I like, that I think is near to what we had in Bruges so I can pop it into the slow cooker.
So far I have been astounded by just how many versions there are to choose from, I will continue my search and dear reader you will be the first to know if I find one that meets my requirements.

Upon our return to the UK, with a pretty empty fridge and larder I remembered a pretty light, simple and tasty dish that was a favourite when growing up - Tuna Rice.

1 - 2 cans of Tuna
Approx 3/4pt Bechamel sauce
250grms Cooked Rice - I used basmati
3 hard boiled eggs
Handful Grated Cheddar Cheese
Ball of Mozzarella

Make up your Bechamel sauce, whilst the rice is cooking. Tip the tuna into the sauce and mix well - season. Take the hard boiled eggs and slice finely. Once the rice is cooked place a third of it into an oven proof dish, layer a third of the sauce on top and one of the sliced eggs and a bit of ripped up mozzarella, repeat twice. On top of the final layer add the grated Cheddar and further seasoning if required. Place in oven at 200oc for 20minutes. Serve.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Herby Baked Lamb in Tomato Sauce

I love the Easter tradition of having Lamb for lunch, but wanted something a little different this year, and with my love of one pot dishes this recipe found n the May issue of BBC Good Food sounded perfect.

Herby Baked Lamb in Tomato Sauce

1.8Kg/4lb Shoulder of lamb
2 tbsp olive oil
3 oregano sprigs, leaves stripped from 2
3 rosemary sprigs, leaves tripped from 2
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
600ml/1pt red wine
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp sugar.

Heat the oven to 220oc. Mix the oil, oregano, rosemary and garlic in a food processor until a paste (I bashed mine in a pestle and mortar, not quite paste like but not far off) Rub all over the lamb. Roast lamb in a large heavy bottomed ovenproof pan for 20 mins.
Cover and lower the oven temp to 150oc. and roast for a further 3 hours.
Remove the lamb from the oven and spoon off the fat, leaving the meat juices. Pour over the wine and tomatoes and toss in the remaining herbs. Return to oven uncovered for a further 40 mins.

Spoon the wine and tomato sauce into another pan, skimming off any excess fat, re-cover the lamb and let it rest. Heat up the sauce until bubbling and then simmer for 10-15 mins until thick and saucy. season with sugar and some S&P, then pour back around the lamb and serve.

I love shoulder of lamb recipes, it is one of the most satisfying cuts to cook, I love that the slow cooking brings out the most tasty flavours and that it is tender enough to pull part with forks. I served this with roast potatoes and a selection of peas and cabbage. Ultra scrummy, the wine and tomato sauce a rich treat.

There was enough left over that the following day I shredded the meat and heated it along with the sauce, threw in a handful of frozen peas and served as a ragu sauce over fresh tagliatelle pasta. It is a shame that my picture does not do this dish justice.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Beer Marinade Pork Ribs

With the promise of good weather to come (hopefully) I figure it is time to get to grips with my BBQ skills and dishes, so having found a very reasonable rack of pork ribs and armed with my Ainsley Harriot Big Cook Out book I tried his Dodg'em and Down'em Cowboy Ribs.

330ml strong lager
grated rind & juice of a lime
2 garlic cloves - crushed
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tbls dark muscavado sugar
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 sheet of pork ribs approx 750g

Mix all the ingredients (except pork) together.

Add the ribs to the mixture and marinate for 8-24 hours.

Cook over a medium BBQ, turning occasionally for 25-35 mins.

The weather still not being clement enough to drag out the BBQ I cooked them in the oven at 200oc for the same amount of time, turning halfway.

They came out wonderfully brown and crispy on the outside, but so tender and tasty, and being a non-sticky marinade they were not messy to eat.

To go with the ribs I made a simple potato salad with a finely sliced shallot & parsley and a beef tomato, mozzarella and basil salad.
Now I know the recipe is a winner I cannot wait for the glorious warm and sunny days of summer (!??!)

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Sort of Chicken Giouvetsi

Whilst perusing my blogroll I came across this recipe from Kevin at Closet Cooking for Chicken Giouvetsi and while I did not have all the correct ingredients in the cupboard I thought I would give it a go with what I did have and make some similar substitutions. I am a huge fan of one pot cooking - in fact looking back over my recipes most of them are one pots and this is another one to be added to the list.

4 Chicken Thighs, skin on.
1 tablespoon oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
250g Riccioli pasta
400ml chicken stock
Big dollop tomato puree
salt and pepper

Pre-cook pasta in boiling water for 7 or so mins, so it is still on the firm side of al dente - drain.
Heat oil in a deep pan, fry the chicken pieces until the skin is crispy and brown. Put to one side. Fry the onion and pepper until tender, then add the pasta, stock, tomato puree and seasoning. Place the chicken on top, pop in oven for 40 mins at 200oc until the stock is absorbed.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Indonesian Pork & Rice

My sister in law is the most wonderful cook, she specialises in Indonesian food which she has learnt from her father who is also a really skilled cook learning all from his Indonesian heritage. One of my favourite recipes that I have learnt from them and altered to suit is a dish usually made from pork mince, cooked with garlic and chili and sweet soy sauce all cooked together. I cannot remember the original recipe as I have been playing with it for years and the ingredients change. This time I used Belly Pork Slices and made the sauce separately.
500g Pack Belly Pork Slices - with skin on.

Season them and place on a wire rack and put into the oven approx 200oc from 30 minutes. They skin will become golden and crispy and all the fat will drain away.

For the sauce I use a 50/50 mix of Ketchup Manis - dark sweet soy sauce and Maggi Ein Echte Liquid Seasoning. I get these shipped over from Holland where S-I-L lives, but similar can be found in local supermarkets. I would suggest approx 4 tbls of each and 2 tbls ginger syrup as it is a rich sauce and you only want a few spoonfuls to drizzle over. I had run out of my usual ginger syrup so used stem ginger in syrup and chopped up a couple of pieces. Put these in a saucepan and reduce down a little.

Served the pork on some onion fried rice with some fine beans mixed in. and the sauce over the top.

A firm favourite in our household.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Stuffed Courgettes

Having a love for all things Menorcan I thought I would share one of my favourite Menorcan dishes - Stuffed Courgettes or Carabassons Plens.

2 Medium Courgettes
2 Eggs - beaten
2 Ripe tomatoes - de-seeded and chopped
2 Cloves of garlic - chopped
Small bunch spring onions - White part only chopped.
4 tbls Breadcrumbs
Oil & salt

Cut courgettes in half length ways, scoop out seeds and pulp, leave a wall of 1/2cm all round. Chop the scooping and put to one side.

Heat 4 tbls oil in a pan and lightly fry the garlic and tomato and spring onions. Leave to simmer for 15 mins, then add the chopped courgette pulp and a little salt cook for a further 5 mins.

Cool the vegetables slightly and add 3 tbls of breadcrumbs and mix with the beaten eggs.

Stuff the courgettes with the mixture and sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs over the top, add a small drizzle of oil.

Place in an oven at 160oc and cook for 30 mins.

The stuffing comes out like a firm omelette and the courgette is al dente - for a softer courgette, boil the courgette halves in salted water for 10 mins at the start of the process.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Chocolate Orange & Cinnamon Cake

I have recently taken to baking cakes, something that I have not done for more than a decade. For some reason I had it in my head that it was fiddly, tricky and tiresome to do, how wrong I was.

It started off with me mooching in the kitchen for something sweet to eat - a rare occurrence as I think my sweet tooth had fallen out years ago and pretty much all the cravings I ever get are for savoury dishes. I found that I had the ingredients for a simple orange sponge cake, but I failed at the icing stage as I had never stuck icing on anything before, luckily Hubby with his GCSE in Home Ec came to the rescue. A couple more lemon sponges followed, Hubby taking one to work to share with his colleagues and a Lemon Drizzle Cake.

I then remembered seeing a fab recipe for Nuria at Spanish Recipes for Bizcocho con Chocolate - Chocolate Cake a delicious 2 tone orange chocolate & cinnamon leaf cake (maybe this was what peaked my interest in baking!)

3 Eggs

150g Butter

140g Sugar

190g Self raising Four

3 Tbsp Orange Liquor - I used Cointreau

1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder

3/4's tsp C Ground Cinnamon (Nuria's recipe called for 2 tsp, but I felt it was too much for my tastes)

Handful of chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven 180oc.
Whisk the softened butter and flour, gently add the eggs and whisk one at a time. gradually add the sifted flour and whisk.
Divide the mixture in two. Add cocoa powder and Cointreau to one and cinnamon to other half, mixing them well.
Pour the cinnamon mixture into a greased loaf tin, sprinkle a handful of chocolate chips on top then pour the cocoa/orange mixture over the top.
Bake in oven for 50-60mins.

For future recipes I think I will add some grated orange zest to make the choco/orange layer really pop out.