Friday, 26 August 2016

Courgette and Smoked Mackerel Carbonara

Another recipe from Save with Jamie. I actually really love this book, it has so many interesting recipes in it, ideal to use up leftovers and gluts of produce. This was a very tasty variation on carbonara and one I would definitely make again.

Courgette and Smoked Mackerel Carbonara (from Save with Jamie - Jamie Oliver)
(Serves 4)

320g dried penne
1 onion, finely slice
1 large courgette, cut into quarters and then sliced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves chopped
130g smoked boneless mackerel fillets, flaked
olive oil
2 large eggs
100ml semi-skinned milk
40g Parmesan cheese
1 lemon

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the pasta and cook according to packet instructions.

Heat a tbsp oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the onions and courgette, season and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 mins. After 5 mins add the rosemary and mackerel and cook, tossing occasionally, for another 5 mins or until golden.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and milk together, then grate in the Parmesan. Reserving a cupful of cooking water, drain the pasta and toss into the mackerel pan. Take the pan off the heat for a few secs and stir in a good splash of cooking water to cool it down. Quickly pour in the egg mixture and shake and stir together until thickened, silky and evenly coated. Divide between 4 plates grate over a little extra parmesan, a sprinkle of pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, serve.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Frenchie Salad

I made this salad a long time ago but I completely forgot where I got the recipe from! I made something else from the Save With Jamie book and came across it again. It was a lovely fresh tasting salad and I used the first French beans from my garden to make it.

Frenchie Salad (from Save with Jamie - Jamie Oliver)
(Serves 4)

250g puy lentils
extra virgin olive oil
cider or white wine vinegar
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp runny honey
2 large eggs
200g French beans, timeed
200g leftover cooked chicken, shredded
4 sprigs tarragon
1 large round lettuce, shredded

Cook the lentil according to packet instructions, then drain, reserving a little cooking water. Return both to the pan and mix in a lug each of oil and vinegar. Season and leave with the lid on to keep warm.

Put the spring onion, garlic, mustard, honey, 1 tbsp vinegar, 3 tbsp oil and a pinch of alt and pepper. Mix well to make a dressing and set aside.

Boil the eggs in a pan of boiling water for 6 mins, then scoop out with a slotted spoon and run them under cold water to cool.  Add the beans to the water to blanch for 4 mins or until just cooked. Drain the beans, and while they're still hot, toss with a little dressing, the chicken and tarragon leaves.

Put the lettuce into a large bowl and tip the warm dressed lentils on top. Sprinkle over the dressed beans and chicken, drizzle over the remaining dressing and toss together. Divide between 4 plates. Peel and quarter the eggs and pop them on top of the salad. Serve.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Eating Out - Northumberland Edition

So I spent last weekend in Warkworth with my Mum. We had some delicious eats in our short time there. The first is a Chocolate and Almond Croissant and the most heavenly dark chocolate Hot Chocolate from Cabosse in Warkworth. The Chocolate Almond Croissant is also out of this world, flaky, almondy, chocolatey, just perfect. So perfect, that in the space of 4 days I had 2!

We went of to Amble for dinner on Friday night. We went to The Old Boat House in the harbour for one of the best meals I have had in the North East. We started with Scallops, Belly Pork with Sweetcorn Puree, which was really tasty and a lovely combination of flavours.

For main course I had Stonebass with Lentils, Mushrooms, Samphire and Chorizo. It was exquisite, really very tasty and again a really interesting mix of flavours and textures.

My Mum had Red Mullet with Crab Risotto, the risotto was so full of crab.

For pudding I went for the Passionfruit Tart with Caramelised Bananas and Ice Cream. This was also yummy.

We went back to Cabosse for lunch on Sunday. I went for a Northumberland Nettle Quiche, which came with a Green Salad, Beetroot Salad and Tikka Relish. The texture of the custard was just so smooth and I loved the different salads.

We also went shopping in Amble and to the fish shop on the main street. We had a selection of smoked and cooked fish. We went for baked herring, roll mop, smoked salmon, prawns, smoked kipper pate and crab. It was a delicious selection of local seafood. We also had a red pepper salad, green salad and coleslaw.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

More Eating! Isle of Wight Edition

So over the last couple of weeks I have been to my parents for my Father's 70th birthday, to the Isle of Wight and to Northumberland. This post will be a celebration of the birthday and the Isle of Wight.

My Father selected the menu for his 70th and we had all his favourites. 30 people came for lunch and we had caterers in to do the food. We started with Prawn Cocktail and Avocado, followed by Beef Wellington with new potatoes and veg and then Eaton Mess. It was delicious and the day was beautiful so we had drinks in the garden to start with.

On our way to the Isle of Wight we spent the night in London and went for dinner at my sister's flat. She made Mary Berry's Chicken and Bacon Lattice Pie followed by Peach Cobbler,  both were absolutely delicious.

Then we got to the Isle of Wight. I went with my Mum, cousin and my sister popped in for the weekend. We rented a beautiful National Trust cottage at St Helen's on the Isle of Wight.

It was about a 10 mins walk from the village of St Helens and a 5 minute walk from the beach. There were 3 decent restaurants all within walking distance. The first we tried was Ganders in St Helens, I went for the Bouillabaisse. It was absolutely delicious and I got a whole red mullet fillet, a whole salmon fillet and a large mussel in a really flavourful tomato sauce.

We went to The Garlic Farm. They often have a stall at Alexandra Palace Farmers Market and so I have had bits and pieces from them before. I bought some toasted garlic mayonnaise and some black garlic. There was also some Black Garlic and Chocolate Ice Cream on offer and I had to try it. It was lovely, liquoricey and chocolatey.

We then went to Baywatch on the Beach, which was right on the beach at St Helens. I had fish pie with a side salad and it was really good and full of fish.

My Mum had Garlic Prawns and Chips that I'm told that too was really good. She had it twice during the week!

We spent a day at Osborne House, Queen Victoria's summer residence and now run by English Heritage. We had lunch in the Terrace Restaurant and I went for Sweet Potato with Spicy Lentil and Chickpea Stew. That too was very good, gently spicy and felt lovely and healthy too.

We went out to Baywatch on the Beach for Breakfast one morning and I went for the Sunshine Breakfast - basically a full English. It was much needed and I loved the inclusion of the fried cherry tomatoes, which are one of my most favourite things.

On our last night we went to Dan's Kitchen in St Helens. My main course was a Chicken Burger, which was decent, but it was the dessert which was really special. Chocolate and Honeycomb Mousse with Marshmallow, White Chocolate Ice Cream and Salted Caramel and Honeycomb Sauce. It was out of this world. Rich and velvety and crunchy with the honeycomb. 

I'll be back in a couple of days with the delights of Northumberland.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Banana Mug Cake

I had a very brown looking banana in my kitchen and the only thing to do with brown bananas is make cake. So I made another mug cake. This one is more pudding like than the previous two recipes but none the less it hits the spot.

Banana Mug Cake (from Pass The Sushi)
(Serves 1)

Non-stick cooking spray
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp milk
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 tbsp chocolate chips

 Spray a microwave safe mug with cooking spray.

Add the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and soda to the mug and whisk to combine. Add the egg and combine until just incorporated with dry ingredients.

Mix in the vanilla, oil, milk, banana and chocolate chips. Pop into the microwave for up to 3 mins, stop and check after 90 secs to see how done it is.

Leave it for a few mins and then top with ice cream and devour.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Secret Recipe Club: Bruschetta

Time for another Secret Recipe Club post. This month I got Morsels of Life. She has a wonderful blog full of recipes and inspiration from around the blogosphere as well.

There were lots of recipes I could have chosen from this blog but I went for bruschetta. I love bruschetta, it's the started I always share with my father in restaurants but I have never made it myself. I also could get the main ingredients from my garden. There really is nothing better than home grown tomatoes picked and served within a matter of minutes.

Bruschetta (from Morsels of Life)
(Serves 4)

4-8 slices of Italian bread
4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
16 basil leaves, sliced
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
drizzle of olive oil

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the bread on both sides until golden.

Mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl and leave to sit for a few mins.

When the bread is done, transfer to serving plates and pile the tomato mixture on top, drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Mushroom, Wild Rice and Feta Salad

I apologise for the slightly haphazard nature of posting currently. I am on school holidays and things tend to get slightly erratic over the summer, I've been to Spain and I am currently in the Isle of Wight (this post is scheduled) and then Northumberland. Other things have also conspired against me and I haven't been doing a lot of cooking, I've sort of lost my mojo a bit. I'm hoping once things get sorted and at least a semblance of normality returns that normal service will resume, until then bare with me.

I made this salad right at the beginning of the holidays. It's one I have been wanting to make for ages but I had to wait until British asparagus season rolled around. It's a lovely flavourful salad, which takes a bit of effort but not too much, perfect for a lazy weekend. I topped it with a poached egg that needed using but it's just a lovely without.

Mushroom, Wild Rice and Feta Salad (from Closet Cooking)
(Serves 4)

200g basmati and wild rice
2 tbsp oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
225g mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
salt and pepper
450g asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
2 tbsp chopped dill
3 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette
salad leaves
40g feta or goat cheese or blue cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Bring a an of water to the boil and add the basmati and wild rice. Cook according to packet instructions.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3-5 mins. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a min. Add the mushrooms and saute until just going golden brown, about 10-15 mins, season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, toss the asparagus in the oil along with some salt and pepper. Spread the asparagus out in a single layer on a baking tray and roast in the oven for about 10 mins or until tender.

Mix the rice, mushrooms, asparagus, dill and balsamic vinaigrette together.

Divide the salad leaves between 4 bowls. Top with the mushrooms and wild rice followed by the roasted asparagus. Sprinkle the feta on top.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Carrot, Spinach and Preserved Lemon Tart

I made these tarts a little while ago with an excess of carrots in my veg bag. They have a really interesting and fab flavour and I would never have thought of putting carrots in a tart before but this really works. I took some shortcuts, I only used whole eggs and not yolks for the filling and egg instead of cream and I used normal full sized carrots cut down into batons. Also as you can see from the picture I made 4 small ones with half the recipe rather than one big tart, which is what the recipe below is for.

Carrot, Spinach and Preserved Lemon Tart (from The Telegraph)
(Serves 6-8)

2 tsp cumin seeds
250g plain flour
150g butter
1 egg yolk
½ - 1 tbsp very cold water

For the filling
300g spinach, any coarse stalks removed
15g unsalted butter
½ tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, very finely chopped
2 small cloves garlic, finely chopped
about ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
400g peeled and trimmed baby carrots
40g preserved lemon, finely chopped
2 large eggs and 2 large yolks
325ml double cream
30g coriander leaves, finely chopped

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan for about 30 seconds. Leave to cool then bash with a mortar and pestle to break down a little.

Put the flour, butter, cumin seeds and a pinch of salt into a food processor and whizz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix the yolk with half a tablespoon of cold water, add it to the flour mixture and whizz again. Add another half tbsp of water if needed for the pastry to come together into a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and allow to rest in the fridge for 30 mins.

Roll out on a lightly floured surface and line a 25-26cm loose-bottomed tart tin (3cm deep). Prick the bottom with a fork then chill in the fridge or freezer until cold and firm.

Preheat the oven to 200C and put in a metal baking-sheet.

Line the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Bake on the sheet for 10 mins then remove the paper and beans and cook for another 8 mins. Leave to cool. Lower the temperature to 180C. Use any leftover raw pastry to patch any cracks in the base.

Put the spinach into a saucepan with a couple of tbsp of water and wilt over a medium heat for 5 mins stirring occasionally. When it is completely wilted, leave until cool enough to handle, then squeeze all the water out with your hands. Chop roughly.

Heat half the butter and olive oil in a frying-pan and add the onion, cook gently until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic, cinnamon and spinach, season and continue to cook until the mixture is quite dry. Spoon it into the pastry case.

Heat the rest of the oil and butter in the same frying pan. Add the carrots and saute until golden in parts and quite dry. Stir in the preserved lemon and some seasoning and spoon into the tart case.

Mix the eggs, yolks and cream together in a jug. Add the coriander and season. Slowly pour the egg mixture on top of the vegetables. Return the tart to the baking sheet and cook for 45 mins, or until the pastry is golden and the filling just set in the middle (it should still have a little give as it will continue to cook once out of the oven). Leave to cool for 15 mins then remove the tart ring and serve.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Food I have Eaten!

So as I'm not doing meal plans at the moment I thought I'd give you all a quick round up of the things I have eaten in the last month of so.

The first was dinner at Guglee in Hampstead. I had Seabass Nazakat, which was sea bass coated with mint, coriander and chilli paste wrapped in banana leaf and steamed. The sea bass was delicious, as was the tikka guinea fowl we had for starter. The service however, left a little to be desired. We had to ask several times for drinks and were ignored for quite a long time after we walked in.

Secondly we went for an illusionary afternoon tea on the Good Ship Benefit. This is a tea where the food that looked like cakes was savoury and the things that looked like sandwiches were actually cake. It was really fun and definitely messed with my head!

I had lunch at The Parlour in Fortnum and Mason and chose the chickpea, tomato and flatbread salad. It was deliciously different and refreshing.

I also had lunch at The Good Schnit in the City. It was ok, a filling lunch but not brilliant.

I finally got to have cake at Indulgence in Walthamstow, I've been trying for months and it's never worked out before! I had the Elderflower and Lemon Cake and it was so so good. Next time I want to try the Salted Caramel and Apple Cake. 

I met a friend and went for lunch at Bubba Gump's in Picadilly. I had Shrimp with Bourbon Sauce and Mash Potato. The restaurant is full of Forest Gump memorabilia and the waitress even asked us questions about the film! 

We shared the dessert platter for pudding, cookie cake, strawberry shortbread and bread and butter pudding. It was huge! So despite the rather tacky look of the place the food was actually really good and I would definitely go back and try some of the other dishes.

After pilates one evening I went to Patty and Bun in Liverpool Street and had their Chicken Burger. It was ok, there was too much coating really to the amount of chicken but the smoked garlic aioli was delicious.

I also took a visit to Yauatcha for dinner, the dim sum as always was fantastic and for the first time I had pudding. We chose the Raspberry Rose, which was choux pastry filled with white chocolate mousse and rose. 

I also went to Borough Market for lunch one day last week and had a goat salad box from Gourmet Goat and it was very good. I had a barley rusk salad and a chickpea and beetroot salad with kid goat on top. I have also bought some of their meat to cook and that was very good as well. 

Finally I have discovered Konditor and Cook. They do fantastic cake and brownies. I have had the Curly Wurly Cake, Lemon Chiffon Cake and Apricot Cheesecake Crumble Cake, all excellent. I also had a Fudgepacker brownie, which was possible one of the best brownies I have ever had.

Hopefully there is more good eating to come!

Sunday, 24 July 2016


At the beginning of July I spent 10 days in the north of Spain. I started in Barcelona and went via Pamplona, Logrono and San Sebastian to Madrid.

As this is a food blog, I'll concentrate on the highlights of all the delicious food I had, but some of the sights were spectacular too. So as I said I started the trip in Barcelona with a Jamon Iberico de Bellota Salad. This ham is from pigs that have only been fed on acorns and it is rather expensive, but oh so worth the money! It s out of this world.

I loved Barcelona too, it was I think my favourite place on the trip. I love Gaudi architecture so spent the couple of days I had in Barcelona doing the highlights. The Sagrada Familia is just stunning.

We then moved to Pamplona and went to a Basque restaurant for our first lunch. I had courgette stuffed with gulas and gambas, basically baby squid and prawns, followed by gallo or rooster fish and the Basque tart. It was all delicious.

We also had a wine tasting in Logrono and although I didn't like either of the wines, too spicy for me, they were served with delicious slices of salami, which I couldn't get enough of!

The main focus of the food in Spain was Pinchos. Basically, individual things, smaller than tapas to go with wine. In some bars they were all laid out as in the picture, but in others they were freshly cooked and some specialised in just one type. We did a couple of pinchos crawls, going from one bar to the next having a pinchos and glass of wine in each. My favourites are below:

We also went to a Valencian restaurant in Logrono and had paella. We had both traditional and seafood. It was so good.

We went to another Basque restaurant in Lescarte, just outside San Sebastian and we had a lovely first course and main and then for pudding they brought out Vienetta!! I don't think I've had this for about 20 years, it definitely conjures up memories of sleepovers as a child!

There were a couple of things I really wanted to try. One was chicharon, basically pork scratchings.

The other was churros. I was a bit disappointed by the churros, for whatever reason they weren't as tasty as I thought they would be and it was too hot to drink all of the chocolate, which looked so so good. I'll have to go back in winter time as I'm told that the Spanish don't eat churros in summer, now I understand why!

As you may have noticed from the above pictures there was very little in the way of veg floating around and side dishes weren't commonly on the menu, so by the final weekend in Madrid I had a very unhappy tummy. So on the last night we went to a Vegetarian restaurant near the Reina Sofia Museum.

I'm still not really sure what I ate but it was very tasty, full of veg and grains and it sorted my tummy right out!

I enjoyed visiting Spain and I will definitely go back to Barcelona and Madrid and I also have yet to visit the south so that's on my list too!