Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Mexican Pig Cheeks

I love love love pig's cheeks, they are just so meltingly tender and they make wonderful nachos. I put a layer of fried sliced onion and pepper with fajita seasoning under the shredded pig's cheeks to add some veggies. If you have the time these are truly worth making. Yum!

Mexican Pig Cheek Nachos
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp oil
8 pigs cheeks
150g chorizo, chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
100ml apple juice
enough chicken stock to cover the pig cheeks
1 cinnamon stick
50g cheddar grated
sour ceam

Heat the oil in a casserole dish. Fry the pig cheeks and chorizo until the pigs cheeks are browned all over. Add the paprika and cumin and cook for a min or two.

Add the apple juice and deglaze the pan. Add the stock until it just covers the pig cheeks and add the cinnamon stick. Cover and cook on a low heat for 1 1/2 hours. Turn up the heat the high and remove the lid, cook for another 20-30 mins until the sauce has reduced. Shred the meat in the sauce.

Preheat the grill.

Put the tortilla chips into an ovenproof dish, top with the shredded pigs cheeks. Sprinkle over the grated cheddar and put under the grill until the cheese has melted. Top with sour cream and guacamole and serve.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Meal Planning Monday

Here are a few things I have eaten this week:

I took a trip to Shake Shack in Westfield, Stratford and was sorely disappointed. I went for a Shackmeister, which was sadly rather salty and appeared to contain raw onion and the chips were only just lukewarm, I'm not sure this is much of a step up from McDonalds and I don't think I'll bother going back.

I did however, find solace at Maitre Choux. I went with a friend and we got a salted caramel eclair, a raspberry macaron eclair and 2 choquettes. I have to say that the eclairs were outstanding but for £7 they should have been! They don't take cards either, so make sure you have some cash handy. Delicious!

I got my veg bag this week containing onions, beetroot, broccoli, chard and a leek.

We also had lunch provided at school this week and this is what greeted me when I turned up in the staff room at lunchtime, it was a feast!

This week is a shorter meal plan as it's half term and I am off to my parents house for a few days towards the end of the week.

Bacon and Greens Pasta with a Poached Egg
Out with my sister

Turkish Baked Pancakes
Courgette Cheshire Cheese Bake

Spicy Salmon Naan Bread Pizza

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Pasta and Greens with Goat's Cheese

This was a yummy and very easy and pasta dish. 

Pasta and Greens with Goat's Cheese (from The Times)
(Serves 4)

300g pasta shapes, such as penne, fusilli or farfalle
salt and pepper
1 tbsp oil, or a knob of butter
2 shallots, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, halved and finely sliced
100-200ml chicken or vegetable stock, or water
200-250g shredded cooked spring greens, savoy cabbage, kale or brussels sprouts, or a few handfuls of uncooked leaves, such as spinach or rocket, tough stems removed, trimmed and shredded
3 tbsp crème fraîche
100g soft goat’s cheese
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
small handful basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp roughly chopped walnuts or pine nuts, lightly toasted

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, heat the oil or butter in a frying pan over a low heat. Add the shallots and sauté gently for a few mins until softened, then add the garlic and fry for 1 min. Pour in the stock or water: if the greens are already cooked, add 100ml liquid; if they’re not, add 200ml.

Toss in the shredded greens and stir. If using uncooked greens, cover with a lid and simmer for a few mins until just tender; for cooked greens, just heat through with the lid off.

Take the pan off the heat, stir in the crème fraîche and season well with salt and pepper.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the creamy greens. Crumble in the goat’s cheese and add the chilli flakes, basil and/or toasted nuts. Toss to combine.

Divide between warmed bowls and serve.

Friday, 21 October 2016


With some of the last of the tomatoes from the garden, I made kisir, which is a lovely Turkish grain salad. Really easy to make. I served it topped with a poached egg.

Kisir (from Amazing Grains by Ghillie James)
(Serves 4)

1 1/2 tbsp oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp tomato puree
200g bulgar wheat, rinsed
250ml boiling hot veg stock
4 tomatoes, diced
handful mint, torn
small bunch parsley, chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped
juice 1 lemon
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
salt and pepper

Heat 1 1/2 tbsp oil in a medium pan and saute the onion, chilli and garlic for 3-4 mins. Stir in the cumin, then the tomato puree and cook for a min. Add the bulgar wheat and the boiling hot stock, then take the pan off the heat. Cover with a lid and leave it to sit until the bulgar has cooled, about 15 mins.

Fork the cooked grains to separate, then add the tomatoes, herbs and spring onions. Mix in the lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil and pomegranate molasses and season, stir to combine. Serve.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Salmon and Bulgar Pilaf Salad

I served this as a salad but I think the original recipe was meant to be eaten hot. Delicious!

Salmon and Bulgar Pilaf Salad (from BBC Food)
(Serves 4)

4 salmon fillets, boned and skinned
1 tbsp smoked paprika
250g bulgur wheat
85g frozen peas
200g runner beans, chopped
2 tbsp chopped chives
2 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper
juice 1/2 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Sprinkle the smoked paprika over the salmon and cook in the oven for 12-15 mins, or until the salmon is cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook the bulgar wheat according to packet instructions. Add the beans for the last 5 mins of cooking time and the peas for the last 3 mins.

Flake the salmon and mix it into the bulgur wheat with the peas and beans. Add in the chives and parsley and squeeze over the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Meal Planning Monday

I only went out for one meal last week, to Fez Mangal in Ladbroke Grove for dinner. It was really good Turkish food, and there is something about that rice. I don't know what they do to it but it is so tasty! I had Chicken Shish.

This week is the last one before half term and it's sneaked up on me! I am going out a few times, and I have book club on Tuesday. The weekend is hopefully quiet. I'm still trying to make recipes from my newspaper clipping and also use things up in the freezer.

Fish Pie Pancake Bake with Salad
Cheese and Pickle Sandwich with Crisps

Kisir (Amazing Grains)
Pasta with Tuna Meatballs and Tomato Aubergine Sauce

Orzo and Roasted Tomatoes with Pesto Dressing (The Times)
Broccoli and Smoked Mackerel Gratin

Lunch Provided at Work
Artichoke, Goat's Cheese and Lentil Salad (Waitrose)

Carrot and Preserved Lemon Tart with Salad
Pea, Creme Fraiche and Mint Gnocchi (The Times)

Duck and Spring Onion Burger
Sticky Lime and Chilli Chicken with Noodles

Veggie Burger
Pigeon and Peach Sausages with Mash and Gravy

Fennel and Tomato Gnocchi Bake

This handily used up a leftover half bulb of fennel and some of the huge amount of tomatoes I have from my garden! The original recipe uses pasta but I swapped it for gnocchi and it was yum!

Fennel and Tomato Gnocchi Bake (adapted from The Guardian)
(Serves 4)

300g gnocchi
2 tbsp oil
1 fennel bulb, sliced
200g cheddar, grated
100ml half-fat creme fraiche
1 tbsp dijon mustard
335g cherry tomatoes, halved
salt and pepper

For the breadcrumb topping
2 tbsp olive oil
100g white breadcrumbs
zest 1 lemon

First make the breadcrumbs. Put the oil in a small pan over a medium heat. Fry the breadcrumbs until golden. Add the lemon zest, some salt and fry for a min more. Remove from the heat.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the gnocchi and cook for 2 mins less than the time on the packet. Drain, reserving some cooking water.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Put the oil in a saucepan large enough to hold the cooked pasta. Fry the fennel over a medium heat until soft and starting to brown. Add the creme fraiche and reduce the heat. When the creme fraiche is warm, add the grated cheese, leave to melt, and stir to combine. Add the mustard and the tomatoes and stir again. Add the cooked pasta along with a splash or two of its cooking water (you want it pretty saucy) and mix until combined. Season to taste.

Spoon into a roasting dish and top with the lemony breadcrumbs. Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins. Serve.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Chicken and Runner Bean Paella

It's a while since I made paella and I love it. I had some runner beans to use up so this was a must. I changed the original recipe a bit, but adding in some chorizo and courgette.

Chicken and Runner Bean Paella (from Good Food Magazine August 2014)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced
8 skinless chicken thighs
150g chorizo, chopped
1 medium courgette, chopped
1 large red pepper, deseeded and chopped
225g paella rice
1 tbsp sweet paprika
100ml dry white wine
850ml hot chicken stock, stirred with 2 large pinches saffron
350g runner beans, strings removed, then sliced into chunks
200g uncooked large king prawns

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and garlic, and fry for 5 mins. Push the onions over to one side, add the chicken and chorizo and cook for 10 mins, turning occasionally, until the chicken is nicely coloured. After 5 mins add the courgette and pepper.

Stir in the rice and paprika, then pour in the wine. Let it sizzle a bit, then stir in the saffron stock. Add the beans, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 mins until the rice is tender and has absorbed most of the stock. If it starts to look dry, add a splash more stock.

Add the prawns for the final few mins, if using, until they turn from grey to pink. Season generously and allow to stand for 1-2 mins before serving.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Dukkah Crusted Chicken with Hummus

I really love the taste of dukkah and this crusted chicken is really tasty and crunchy. I served it with avocado pasta and bans but it would be just a delicious with pitta and lemon. When I get some more chicken breast I think I might try it this way.

Dukkah Crusted Chicken with Hummus (from The Times)
(Serves 4)

4 chicken breast fillets, skin on
oil, for brushing
20g dukkah
handful rocket, chopped
1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
200g hummus

Brush the chicken with oil and sprinkle with the dukkah. Cook in the oven for 20-25 mins.

Place the chopped rocket, lemon rind and hummus in a bowl and mix to combine.

Slice the chicken and serve with the hummus and extra rocket.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Borlotti and Runner Beans with Sage, Tomatoes and Garlic

This is a most delicious vegetarian stew. My Mum gave me lots of runner beans from her garden and I have been slowly using them up. It also used tomatoes, onion and garlic from my garden too. Yum!

2 tins borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp oil
2 onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves
pinch chilli flakes
small bunch sage leaves, half roughly chopped
600g vine tomatoes, roughly chopped
pinch sugar
400g runner beans, strings removed, sliced diagonally
200-300ml vegetable stock
small bunch oregano leaves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp creme fraiche

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then fry the onions gently for 10 mins or until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic, chilli flakes and whole sage leaves, then cook for a few mins more. Add the tomatoes, taste, then add the sugar if needed. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 5-10 mins, stirring, until reduced.

Add the borlotti and runner beans with 200ml stock and bring to a gentle simmer, then cook for another 8-10 mins until the borlotti beans are just beginning to fall apart and the runner beans are tender. You may need to add a little more stock – the stew should be saucy but not soupy.

Stir through most of the chopped sage and oregano, then stir in the creme fraiche. To serve, drizzle with olive  oil, scatter over the remaining herbs, then spoon into bowls. Serve with a chunk of crusty bread.