Thursday, 31 July 2014

Crushed New Potato, Broad Bean and Hot Smoked Salmon Salad

This was something I came up with on the spur of the moment and the beans were picked literally minutes before I cooked them, you can't get fresher than that! This was a lovely salad and the vinaigrette was lovely and light. The recipe makes more dressing than you will need but it's hard to get the proportions right in a smaller quantity, so you can always use the rest of the dressing on a green salad.

















Crushed New Potato, Broad Bean and Hot Smoked Salmon Salad
(Serves 1)

150g new potatoes
50g broad beans
1 small hot smoked salmon salad
3 tbsp hazelnut oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp chopped tarragon
salt and pepper
handful salad leaves

Put the potatoes into a saucepan, cover with water bring to the boil and cook for 10-15 mins until tender. Add the broad beans for the last 2-3 mins of cooking. Drain.

Meanwhile, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard and tarragon to make the dressing.

Return the potatoes to the pan and crush lightly with a fork, add the beans, salmon and a quarter of the dressing and mix gently.

Put the salad leaves into a bowl and add a quarter of the dressing, toss to coat. Top with the potato salmon mixture and serve.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Peach, Blue Cheese and Parma Ham Pizza

This is a really interesting pizza. I'm slowly getting used to adding fruit to savoury dishes and finding that more often than not it works! This was really tasty and the blue cheese goes really well with the peaches.














Peach, Blue Cheese and Parma Ham Pizza
(Serves 2)

1 packet pizza mix
2 -3tbsp alfredo sauce
1 peach, sliced
3 parma ham slices
50g blue cheese, broken into pieces
50g grated mozzarella

Make the pizza dough according to packet instructions.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Roll out and spread over the alfredo sauce. Put the peach slices, and half the parma ham on top of the sauce. Crumble over the blue cheese and then top with the mozzarella.

Bake in the oven for 18-20 mins until crispy. Once cooked put the rest of the parma ham on the pizza and serve.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Salmon and Wild Garlic Quiche

I made these a little while ago when wild garlic was in season and then I froze them. I ate the first one yesterday and it was lovely, the pastry was fantastic and flaky. The wild garlic, is mild but full of flavour and goes perfectly with the salmon.
















Salmon and Wild Garlic Quiche (adapted from Camera and Clementine)
(Serves 6-8)

360g strong white flour
200g cold butter
6 tbsp cold water
pinch of salt
5 large free range eggs
200g crème fraiche
1 large tin salmon, flaked
30-40 wild garlic leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp nutmeg
a sprinkling of mature cheddar
salt and pepper


Add flour and butter to a mixing bowl, using a knife cut the butter into the flour. Then using your fingertips rub in the butter until all the large lumps are gone. Add the salt and water, then quickly kneed the dough, just until it hangs together. Pop in the fridge for an hour to chill.

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface to fit a 28 cm buttered quiche tin. Blind bake the crust for 15 mins.

Meanwhile make the filling, by beating the eggs with the salt, pepper, nutmeg and crème fraiche. Add the salmon, wild garlic, nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix.

Pour the filling into the pastry case and sprinkle with a little mature cheddar on top. Bake for 35-40 mins. Serve with a green salad.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Meal Planning Monday

So this week is much quieter! I'm finishing off painting my windowsills this week and then running around doing odd jobs. I'm going to the theatre on Tuesday and then on Thursday my Mum arrives and on Friday we go off to Paris for the weekend and then the following Tuesday I'm going up to Northumberland for about 10 days. So this weeks menu plan is a clear out the fridge and use the garden one. Then there won't be any meal plans for a couple of weeks but I have scheduled posts whilst I'm away so you'll still get the daily update!

 












Monday
Spicy Morroccan Carrot Salad with Lentils (Plenty)
Lamb Kofte Curry with Rice (Jamie's 15 Mins)

Tuesday
Raclette Tart and Salad
Out before the theatre

Wednesday
Roast in the Hole with Sausages

Thursday
Out

Elderberry Muffins

This was the second lot of cakes that I took into work. I picked elderberries from my parents garden last year and froze them. They were really lovely but went very moist and sticky very quickly, so best eaten quickly! I made lots of little muffins instead of big ones, more to go round!!
















Elderberry Muffins (from Becky Doughty)
(Makes 12 large muffins)

113g butter or margarine
200g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
125ml milk
250g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
140g elderberries

For the topping
113g demerara suagr
42g plain flour
60g butter, softened, cubed
1½ tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a muffin tin.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the milk and vanilla and mix well.

Sieve in the flour, baking powder and salt and then fold into the wet ingredients with a metal spoon. Carefully fold in elderberries.

Spoon into the muffin tins and sprinkle with the crumb topping.

Bake in the oven for 20 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Walrus and Otter - Brazilian Supper Club

Last night I took a trip across London to Hampstead for a really enjoyable evening at a Brazilian themed supper club. It was run by a friend I went to school with and her boyfriend and was the first supper club I have been to. It really appealed as I love trying new foods and very rarely eat Brazilian, but also I don't get cooked for very often, I cook for myself all the time and eat out at restaurants but it's nice to have a home cooked meal cooked by someone else. It was a very relaxed evening and was fab to meet lots of new people. The food was really delicious and I am tempted to try making the main course myself.



We started with canapés and a cocktail, which I didn't take a picture of, but included chargrilled courgette, mozzarella and tomato, prawn, mango and coconut cups and chicken rice balls. All were really tasty. The cocktail was served in decorated jam jars, which was a really lovely touch.

We then took our seats and started with Ceviche with a piece of chilli spiked corn on the cob.




It really was out of this world, packed full of really interesting flavours. We then had a palate cleanser of caipirinha sorbet on a lovely painted Brazillian spoon!




 For our main course we had Chicken Bobo with Rainbow Rice and Cabbage.




The chicken stew was served in a banana leaf and was just so good and the rice was incredibly tasty. It was lovely to have a dish with coconut milk that isn't Thai!

For pudding we had a Fruit Tart with Creme Patissiere and a Coconut and Rum Ice Cream.


Both were fab and I was especially surprised by the ice cream as I'm not a huge fan of coconut, but this was truly delicious. The meal was finished off with coffee and chocolates.

I had a really lovely evening and I'm really looking forward to trying out more supper clubs as I love the idea.

Chicken with Broad Beans, Lemon and Mint

I made this recipe using the first broad beans from the garden. It was so delicious, the creamy flavours and the veg were perfect. I added in courgettes as I have hundreds of baby ones that seem to refuse to grow any bigger. Apparently it's because it's been too cold at night, so fingers crossed for some warmer nights.
















Chicken with Broad Beans, Lemon and Mint (from The WW Foodie)
(Serves 4)
(8 ProPoints per serving)

400g chicken thigh fillets, skinless and boneless, cut into chunks
3 tsp light oil
1 onion, chopped
1 courgette, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
50ml vermouth or white wine
2 large bay leaves
500ml chicken stock
100g frozen broad beans
4 tbsp half fat creme fraiche
zest and juice of half a lemon
1-2 tbsp chopped mint

Heat 2 tsp of oil in a large saucepan. Season the meat and then add to the pan to brown - in batches if necessary. Remove to a plate.

Heat the final tsp of oil. Add the onion and courgette and cook for 3-4 mins until it starts to soften and then add in the garlic and cook for a further 5 mins or so until all the vegetables are softened.

Pour in the vermouth or white wine and deglaze the pan. Reduce the wine to almost nothing, then return the chicken to the pan and combine everything well.

Now add three quarters of the chicken stock and the bay leaves. Bring up to a simmer then cover and cook for around 30 mins.

Meanwhile, combine the creme fraiche with the lemon and mint and weigh out the broad beans.

After half an hour has passed, remove the lid and add the broad beans.  If it looks a little dry, add more stock - you want a decent amount of sauce.  Cook for 5 mins until the broad beans are cooked.

Turn the heat down and stir through the flavoured creme fraiche. Season and serve over rice or with potatoes.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Sweet Potato and Sausage Salad

This salad is so good, there really is something very comforting about warm sausage and warm sweet potato but in a salad. I cannot bear to think what might in low fat sausages, which the WW recipes usually recipe call for so I've always used awesome quality sausages. If you used low fat sausages the ProPoints would be 7, I have no idea for normal sausages.

































































Sweet Potato and Sausage Salad (from WW Soups and Salads)
(Serves 4)


600g sweet potato
cooking spray
4 sausages
4 shallots
small bunch chives, chopped
salt and pepper
4 tbsp crème fraiche
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
salad leaves


Preheat the oven to 220C.


Place the sweet potatoes in a roasting tin, spray with the cooking spray, season and roast for 30 mins until tender.


Put the sausages into a separate tin and bake alongside the sweet potato for 30 mins until browned all over and cooked through, you may need to turn them halfway through cooking. Leave to cool slightly and slice.


Heat a frying pan, spray with cooking spray and cook the shallots for 5 mins until softened, adding a splash of water if they start to stick.


Place the sweet potato, sausages, shallot and chives into a bowl. Mix together the crème fraiche and mustard and spoon over the potato mixture, toss together until well combined.


Put the salad leaves into 4 individual bowls, top with the potato and sausage mixture and serve.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Selfridges Windows

Today I went to the Dennis Hopper exhibition at the Royal Academy, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a very eclectic mix of pictures, everything from slightly dull abstracts to photos of icons, such as Martin Luther King at a Rally and Andy Warhol as well as hippies and bikers. On a slight detour back to the tube I went past Selfridges summer windows, which this year are all food themed. 

The first is of an American diner



Then a bakery



Followed by a window full of meringues!



Next came a charcuterie



Then an espresso bar, with a lovely lady sheltering from the rain!



And finally a Mexican window.



I really loved these windows, there were a couple more but there were too many pictures to get good shots. I'll try going back earlier in the morning to get better shots. They are really fun to look at and promote the changes to their food hall.


Rhubarb and White Chocolate Blondies

Oh my goodness these were good! I took them into work as a thank you to the staff as I was leaving my job and they went down really well. I loved the combination of the rhubarb and white chocolate and they were perfectly cooked in the middle. I thought 45 mins was too long for such a small pan but actually it was perfect.

















Rhubarb and White Chocolate Blondies (from Hummingbird High)
(Makes an 8x8inch pan)

450g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tbsp granulated sugar
zest of 1 lime
113g butter
100g packed dark brown sugar
67g granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g plain flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
260g white chocolate chips, divided into 175g and 85g portions
Preheat the oven to 200C.
 
In a baking pan, toss together the rhubarb, sugar, and lime zest. Set aside for about 10 mins until a little syrup starts to appear.
 
Once the rhubarb is a little syrupy, cover the baking pan with aluminium foil and roast in the preheated oven for 10 mins until the sugar is melted. If the sugar isn’t melted, continue roasting for another 2 mins or so, before removing the foil completely and roasting for another 2 mins uncovered until the syrup is bubbling. Remove from oven and allow the rhubarb to cool to room temperature
 
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line an 8 x 8in baking pan.
 
Melt the butter over a medium low heat until it starts to brown, foam slightly and emit a nutty aroma. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
 
After around 5 mins, whisk the butter and sugars together until smooth. Whisk in the egg and vanilla until fully incorporated.
 
Sprinkle the flour, cinnamon, and  salt over the liquid mixture and use a metal spoon to fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
 
Pour the batter to the prepared baking pan. Spread the roasted rhubarb on top of the blondie batter evenly until most of the batter is covered, before scattering the leftover 1/2 cup white chocolate chips over the rhubarb.
 
Transfer to the oven and bake for 40 to 45 mins, or until the edges are golden brown. If the rhubarb and white chocolate looks like it’s browning too fast, create an aluminium foil tent over the pan.  Once the blondies are cooked, leave to cool completely and then cut into pieces.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Turkey Smashed Pea and Pesto Sandwich

I cheated a bit with this sandwich. I didn't bother with the onions, I stuck some pickled red cabbage on top instead. It was massively flavourful though and i loved the peas and pesto.
















Turkey Smashed Pea and Pesto Sandwich (from The Sweets Life)
(Serves 4)

1/4 small red onion, sliced
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp butter
200g frozen peas
salt and pepper
4 tbsp pesto
200g turkey pieces
8 slices bread, toasted

Place the onion slices and vinegar in a small bowl and allow to sit for 3-5 mins, until onion is tender and bright pink.

 Meanwhile, heat butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the peas and salt and pepper. Cook for 5-7 mins, until the peas are heated through. Mash until peas hold together.

Spread pesto on four of the sandwich slices, then top with the peas, onion, and turkey. Finish with remaining slices of bread. Serve.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Cheesy Stuffed Baked Cod

I managed to make a booboo again! I forgot to put the cheese on before the cracker crumb so put it on top instead. The dish was still delicious, but I think it would have been even better with the cheese next to the fish! It also called for Muenster cheese, but that doesn't exist here so I swapped it for cheddar. I served it with crushed new potatoes and a variety of veg.


















Cheesy Stuffed Baked Cod (from A Family Feast)
(Serves 4)

4 cod or haddock fillets
salt and pepper
4 slices cheddar cheese
25 Ritz Crackers, crushed
juice half a lemon
zest  half a lemon
1 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tbsp chopped parsley
¼ tsp paprika
1/8 tsp Worcestershire sauce
8 tbsp butter, melted (1 stick)
125ml milk
½ lemon cut into four wedges
Preheat oven to 200C.
Spray a baking pan with cooking spray and place the fish fillets in the pan. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Place the slices of cheese evenly over the fish.
Combine the cracker crumbs with the lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic powder, pepper, parsley flakes, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and melted butter. Mix well.
Gently pile the cracker mixture over fish. Try to leave the stuffing loose and not packed down.
Pour the milk around fish but not over. Place the lemon wedges in the milk next to the fish.
Cover with a piece of parchment paper and then cover with foil, sealing tightly around the edges.
Bake covered for 15 mins, then remove the parchment and foil and bake uncovered for five more mins, or until it flakes apart with a fork.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Lemon Icing

As part of my leaving do at Mad Hatters, one of the girls made cupcakes with lemon icing. Oh my goodness they were so good that I had to ask for and post the recipe. So what is below is what she sent me! The cupcakes were just vanilla cupcakes so use whatever recipe you choose.

















Lemon Icing (from Mary Berry)
(For 12 cakes)

75g unsalted butter, softened
250g icing sugar
4 tbsp milk
3 tbsp lemon curd

Beat butter until creamy, gradually beat in the icing sugar and milk, when the mixture is light and smooth beat in lemon curd, put it on cake, distribute to distraught innocent library children you are mercilessly leaving!! :D

Monday, 21 July 2014

Tuna Pasta Salad with Dill and Peas

This is a very simple tuna pasta salad, along the vein of my usual smoked salmon pasta salad but with the addition of a lovely vinegary hit of capers.
















Tuna Pasta Salad with Dill and Peas (adapted from Lauren's Latest)
(Serves 4)

250g dried pasta shapes
120g frozen peas
1 small red onion, diced
2 tbsp capers
2 cans tuna, drained
juice half lemon
3 tbsp mayonnaise
3 tbsp yoghurt or creme fraiche
2 tbsp dill
salt and pepper

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions, adding the peas for the last 2-3 mins of cooking time. Drain pasta and peas and run under the cold tap, drain again well.
 
Add the pasta and peas to a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients until everything is evenly coated in the sauce. Pack into a lunch box or serve.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Meal Planning Monday

Last week was really lovely, I went to the wedding dresses exhibition at the V&A, which was stunning and had lunch at Comptoir Libanese. Hopefully this is it's the first of many visits to the exhibition as I know lots of people want to go. 

I also went home to see my Mum and got lovely fruit from the pick your own farm, bought new seeds for the garden, my Father had cut an article out the newspaper about growing things in pots and the only one I hadn't tried is pea sprouts, so now I am! I also got some lovely meat from a local butcher. Here closer to home in Walthamstow I also discovered the East London Sausage company in the Village, and got a lovely variety of sausages including wild boar and forest fruits, I can't wait to try them. I also had a look at the history of my flat and painted my outdoor table and chairs! 

Whilst I was with my Mum we went out for lunch to a local garden centre, Olive Grove Nurseries near Polebrook, which has a pizza oven, it does amazing mezze platters too. I ordered the breakfast pizza and it was so so good. It had black pudding, mushrooms, bacon and egg on it, it was probably one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten.


This week is equally busy. I'm meeting friends on both Tuesday and Wednesday as well as going to the theatre on Tuesday and Sunday and I'm hoping to get a day seat for something during the week. I also have bits and pieces to do around the house as well as the usual Pilates. Three recipes come from Ottolenghi this week, I really love his food and I finally borrowed Plenty from the library, so I have to make a least a couple of things from the book before I have to return it!

Monday
Sausage Barley Salad
Fried Butterbeans, Sorrel and Sumac (Plenty)

Tuesday
Out
Out

Wednesday
Out
Broad Bean Burgers (Plenty)

Thursday
Herring Salad
Lamb Moussaka

Friday
Tortellini Caesar Salad
Chicken with New Potatoes, Prunes and Pomegranate Molasses (Ottolenghi)

Saturday
Crab Cakes and Salad
Out?

Sunday
Tart and Salad
Vietnamese Lamb Shanks with Rice

Lemon Turkey and Mangetout Pittas

This is possibly one of the easiest suppers I have ever made, little prep work, short cooking time, on the plate in no time.













































Lemon Glazed Turkey with Mange Tout (from WW Book of Recipes)
(Serves 2)
(5 WW ProPoints Per Serving)


cooking spray
225g turkey breast strips
125g mange tout
2 spring onions, sliced
1 tbsp clear honey
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp chopped basil leaves
1 tsp sesame seeds
salt and pepper


Heat a frying pan over a high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add the turkey and cook for 3-4 mins until the meat is well sealed and lightly coloured.


Add the mange tout and spring onions with 1 or 2 tbsp water if needed and stir fry for another 3-4 mins. Add the honey, lemon juice, basil and sesame seeds and season well.


Let the juices come to a boil, coating the turkey with the glaze. Serve in pitta for an extra 4 ProPoints.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Lentil and Leek Kedgeree Salad with Smoked Mackerel

This was such a different salad. Not something I would ordinarily make but it really appealed and it was really tasty and I would assume fairly healthy too. I served it over lettuce.  I also love the A Salad For All Seasons book, it's given me so many ideas for packed lunches.



























































Lentil and Leek Kedgeree Salad with Smoked Mackerel
(From A Salad For All Seasons - Harry Eastwood) (Serves 6)


4 tbsp oil
450g dried puy lentils
6 leeks, finely sliced
8 cardamom, husks removed, bashed to a powder
2 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
4 bay leaves
2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp medium curry powder
salt and pepper
large handful parsley, roughly chopped
600g smoked mackerel fillets, skinned and flaked
3 hard boiled eggs, quartered
4 spring onions, chopped
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges
pinch cayenne pepper
8 tbsp sour cream
handful chives, snipped


Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large pan and fry the lentils, leeks, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, allspice and curry powder over a low heat for 20mins.


Add 700ml water to the pan and cover with a lid. Cook for 30 mins until the lentils are cooked and there is no water left in the pan.


Discard the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Adjust the seasoning and a tbsp of oil.


Fork the lentils and leeks to help them cool down before adding the parsley, smoked mackerel, eggs and spring onions.


Squeeze over the lemon juice and sprinkle with cayenne pepper before adding a blob of sour cream and sprinkling chives over each portion.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Salted Caramel Butter Bars

I cannot tell you enough how good these bars are. They went down an absolute storm with my colleagues. I made them as I was getting a bit naughty with a tub of salted caramel in my fridge, When I started spooning it out the tub into my mouth I decided enough was enough! So I made something I could take to work and it was gone within minutes.
















Salted Caramel Butter Bars (from Cookies and Cups)

450g butter
225g caster sugar
188g icing sugar
2 tbsp vanilla 
500g self-raising flour
1 jar salted caramel sauce
 
Preheat the oven to 160°C
 
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Sift the flour into the butter mixture and fold in with a metal spoon.
 
Spray a 23cm x 33cm baking pan lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Press one-third of the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust. Wrap remaining dough in cling film and chill in the fridge.
 
Bake the crust until firm and the edges are a pale golden brown about 20 mins. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it cool for about 15 mins.
 
Pour the salted caramel sauce over the crust. 
 
Remove the remaining chilled dough from the refrigerator and crumble it evenly over the caramel.
 
Return the pan to the oven and bake for 25 - 30 mins until the filling is bubbly and the crumbled shortbread topping is firm and lightly golden.
 
Let cool before cutting into squares.
 
 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Steak and Potato Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

I think this is the first time I have ever had or made blue cheese dressing. It really transformed the salad, which was delicious anyway and added an extra dimension of flavour with it's creamy sharp tangyness.
 
















Steak and Potato Blue Cheese Dressing
(Serves 4)

500g new potatoes, halved
2-3 tbsp oil
salt and pepper
 
For the dressing
6 tbsp mayonnaise
6 tbsp buttermilk
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
100g blue cheese, chopped/crumbled
  
vegetable oil, for greasing the pan
3 sirloin steaks

Shredded lettuce

Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease a large baking sheet or line with greaseproof paper first and lightly grease. 
 
Add the potatoes and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Toss the potatoes in the oil and seasoning. Bake for about 30 mins.

In a medium bowl whisk the mayo, buttermilk, garlic and vinegar together. Stir in the blue cheese and season. Pop into the fridge.
 
Lightly oil a large frying pan and set over a high heat. Season the steak.
 
When the pan is smoking hot add the steak. Cook to your liking. Remove to a cutting board and cover with foil. Let it sit for 5-10 mins before slicing.
 
Divide the lettuce among 4 plates followed by the potatoes. Slice the steak thinly against the grain and put on top. Drizzle with the blue cheese dressing and serve.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Duck and Green Bean Thai Curry

This was really delicious and flavourful and the long cooking time made the duck so tender. It also wasn't ridiculously hot, just nice and spicy.
















Duck and Green Bean Thai Curry (from Good Food Magazine June 2008)
(Serves 4)

3-4 duck breasts, about 700g/1lb 9oz in total
6 tbsp green or yellow Thai curry paste
1 tbsp light brown sugar
400ml can coconut milk
2 tbsp fish sauce
juice 2 limes
6 kaffir lime leaves, 3 left whole and 3 finely shredded
200g French beans, trimmed
100g baby corn, halved
handful coriander leaves
 
Place a frying pan over a low heat and add the duck breasts, skin-side down, to the dry pan. Slowly fry until the skin is brown and a lot of the fat has rendered off – this can take about 20 mins. Flip them over to seal the other side for 1 min, then remove to a board until cool enough to handle. Pour all but 2 tbsp of the fat from the pan.

While the meat is resting, return the pan to the heat, then fry the curry paste and sugar for 1-2 mins until it becomes fragrant. Tip in the coconut milk, then fill the can with water and add this, too. Add the fish sauce, half the lime juice and the whole lime leaves, then bring to a simmer. Slice the duck breasts, then tip into the curry. Cover the pan, then simmer everything on the lowest heat for 1 hr until the duck is tender. Add the beans to the curry, then continue to cook, covered, for 10 mins until the beans are tender with a slight crunch. Taste and add more lime juice, fish sauce or sugar to season.
 
Stir in the baby corn, cook for 1-2 mins more, sprinkle over the coriander and shredded lime leaves. Serve over rice.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Asparagus and Goat's Cheese Potato Salad

This is such a lovely bright and summery salad idea. I simplified the original recipe as I didn't have much time and needed to eat it cold. Even cold it was utterly delicious.

















Asparagus and Goat's Cheese Potato Salad (adapted from Amuse Your Bouche)
(Serves 2)

400g small new potatoes, halved
150g asparagus (around 10 spears), cut into 1 inch pieces
3 spring onions, sliced
salt and pepper
3 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
10 black olives, halved
2tsp basil pesto
75g soft goat's cheese, roughly crumbled
 
Boil the potatoes until just tender, adding the asparagus for the last minute of cooking. When just tender, drain and put into a large bowl.
 
Add the spring onions, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, olives, pesto and goat's cheese, and mix well until the cheese has melted. Leave to cool or serve warm.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Meal Planning Monday

Last week was ridiculously busy! I went to see five theatre shows and I did my last day at my current job. I now get a six week break and then start my new job. This week is by comparison fairly quiet but my meals still need planning. I'm going to see my parents on Tuesday and then going to the theatre on Tuesday evening. I'm also going to an exhibition and out for lunch with a friend on Thursday, then hopefully I'm going to find a bit more about my house on Friday as I'm intrigued about who lived here when the flats were built.

I'm still using Jamie's 15 Minute Meals a lot, I keep finding interesting and easy things to make! I'm also waiting for my courgettes to grow like they usually do so I can use my store of recipes! I have been eating lots of salad and that continues as I have loads of lettuce ready in the garden. I love that I can now have hot salads for lunch.

 












Monday
Steak and Korean Fried Rice (Jamie's 15 Minute Meals)
Caraway Roasted Carrot Salad with Lentils

Tuesday
At my parents house
Chicken, Cucumber and Beansprouts (Gok's Wok)

Wednesday
Mushroom Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Cod Tikka with Spinach and Chickpeas (Waitrose Weekend)

Thursday
Out with a friend for lunch

Friday
Jamie's Crab Pasta (Jamie's 15 Minute Meals)

Saturday
Tuna Noodle Casserole with Salad

Sunday

Lentil and Spinach Cottage Pie (Nigel Slater)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

I made these for my last Mad Hatters where we ate lots of cake and watched Dr Who! One of the Year 9 girls made lemon cupcakes which were so so good. So good they deserved a picture and a mention!
















I made these half cookie half brownie. They were supposed to have cookie dough on top but because I was little bit frightened of children that were not my own uncooked batter, so I stuck it in the oven again for about 10-15 mins, so that it was just cooked on top. Nonetheless, it was delicous, the girls loved it!
















Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies (from Brown Eyed Baker)
(Makes 32)

For the brownie
115g dark chocolate, finely chopped
225g butter
400g light brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

For the cookie dough
170g unsalted butter
150g light brown sugar
150g granulated sugar
3 tbsp milk
1½ tsp vanilla extract
190g self-raising flour
200g mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line a 23cm x 33cm pan
 
In a medium glass bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
 
In a large  bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. Mix in the melted chocolate until combined. Sieve in the flour and fold in with a metal spoon. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 25 to 35 mins, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Leave to cool completely.
 
Next make the cookie dough. Cream together the butter and both sugars. Add the milk and vanilla and mix until combined. Sieve in the flour and fold in with a metal spoon. Then stir in the chocolate chips.

Spread the cookie dough over the cooled brownies. and put into the fridge for about an hour until the dough is firm. Cut into squares.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Spicy Pasta Salad with Smoked Cheese, Tomatoes and Basil

This was unexpectedly really lovely. I loved the spicy kick the chipotle gave the dish. I didn't have any smoked gouda so I used a Northumberland cheese called Smoked Cuddy's Cave, which worked really well in this dish too.















Spicy Pasta Salad with Smoked Cheese, Tomatoes and Basil
(from Pioneer Woman)
(Serves 4)

250g dried pasta shapes
4 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp milk
4t bsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp chipotle paste
salt and pepper
140g cherry tomatoes, halved
225g smoked cheese, cut into small cubed
12 basil leaves, chiffonaded

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Drain, run under the cold tap and then drain again well.

Mix the mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, salt, pepper, and chipotle paste together in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, stir together the pasta, dressing, tomatoes, and cheese. Stir in the basil. Put it into the fridge for a couple of hours before serving or pack into a lunchbox.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Sizzling Beef Steak, Hoi Sin Prawn and Noodle Bowls

This is another of Jamie's 15 minute meals, it was really delicious. I'd never thought of putting steak and prawns together in an Asian meal but if it works in surf and turf, it works in this as well. I missed out the peanuts as I don't like them but I made all the rest.
















Sizzling Beef Steak, Hoi Sin Prawn and Noodle Bowls (from Jamie's 15 Minute Meals)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp shelled peanuts
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 – 1 fresh red chilli
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
2 spring onions
1 bunch of fresh coriander
4 nests of egg noodles
2 cloves of garlic
100g raw peeled tiger prawns
80g bean sprouts
4 tbsp hoi sin sauce
2 tbsp low-salt soy
2 limes
1 cos lettuce
4 radishes
1 punnet of cress

Beef
2 200g sirloin steaks, fat removed
1 tbsp Chinese five-spice
2 tbsp sesame oil
250g oyster mushrooms

Toast the peanuts and sesame seeds in the dry wok, tossing often until golden, then tip into a small
bowl and put aside, leaving the wok on the heat.

Rub the steaks all over with salt, pepper and the five-spice, then put into the frying pan with half the sesame oil.

Turn the steaks every minute until cooked to your liking, adding the mushrooms after a couple of minutes and removing the steaks to a board when done.

Finely chop the chilli, peeled ginger, trimmed spring onions and half the coriander in the processor.

Half-fill the pan with boiling salted water and add the noodles, then put the lid on.

Put the remaining sesame oil into the wok, add the chopped veg and squash in the unpeeled garlic through a garlic crusher.

Toss for a minute, add the prawns and beansprouts, toss for another minute, then add the hoi sin and soy sauces, the juice of 1 lime and the rest of the coriander leaves.

Use tongs to drain and transfer the noodles straight into the wok and toss in, loosening with a splash of cooking water if needed.

Season to taste and divide between 4 bowls.

Trim the lettuce, break the leaves apart and poke a couple of leaves into each bowl with a halved radish. Snip over the cress and sprinkle with the toasted nuts and seeds.

Cut the steaks into 1cm slices and serve with the crispy mushrooms and lime wedges.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Crunchie Chocolate Traybake

This was what I made for my last Mad Hatters last week and it was so good. Somehow Crunchie always makes things better in the world. I had a go at putting popping candy on top but it didn't really work as it popped when it hit the chocolate. How exactly do you use popping candy in baking?! You can't subject it to any moisture, so it seems kind of useless!
















Crunchie Chocolate Traybake (from The Steenbergs)

60g plain chocolate
60g milk chocolate
100g unsalted butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
200g digestive biscuits
100g sultanas
100g Crunchie bars

for the topping
100g milk chocolate
100g Crunchie bars

Grease and line a 17cm x 26cm baking tray.

Put the digestives into a freezer bag and tie the end without much air in it. Then with the end of a rolling pin smash the digestives into small pieces. Smash the Crunchie bars in their packets.

Place the plain and dark chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Add the golden syrup and butter. Melt together, stirring occasionally.

When melted, add the digestive biscuits, sultanas and honeycomb and mix all together so that everything is coated with the chocolate mix.

Spoon the mixture into the tray and put it into fridge to set while you prepare the topping.

Melt the chocolate, then mix in the remaining crushed up Crunchie bars. Take the tray out of the fridge and cover the base evenly with the chocolate topping.

Leave in the fridge for about 1 hour to fully set, then turn out onto a chopping board. With a sharp knife, cut into bars.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Chicken Tikka, Lentil, Spinach and Naan Salad

I've been going a bit crazy with Jamie's 15 Minute Meals book recently. I don;t much like the 30 minute one only finding a couple of recipes to make from it, but the 15 minute one is so much better. This salad was lovely and filling and refreshing all at the same time. I did fiddle with things a bit. I didn't bother with the cashews in the dressing and I used salad leaves instead of spinach as my garden has an abundance of lettuce at the moment. This on is definitely worth trying.
















Chicken Tikka, Lentil, Spinach and Naan Salad (from Jamie's 15 Minute Meals)
(Serves 4)

Chicken
2 x 200g skinless chicken breasts
2 heaped tsp Patak's tikka paste
4 chestnut mushrooms
 
Salad
4 spring onions
1 fresh red chilli
1 heaped tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
olive oil
1 250g pack of ready-to-eat Puy lentils
1 ripe tomato
red wine vinegar
1 big bunch of fresh coriander
2 lemons
4 tbsp fat-free natural yoghurt
1 heaped tbsp cashew nuts
1 heaped tbsp mango chutney
1 tsp turmeric
2 naan breads
200g baby spinach
1/2 a cucumber
1 carrot
30g feta cheese
On a large sheet of greaseproof paper, toss the chicken with salt, pepper and the tikka paste. Fold over the paper, then bash and flatten the chicken to 1,5cm thick with a rolling pin. Place on the hot griddle pan with the halved mushrooms, turning after 3 or 4 minutes, until nicely charred and cooked through. Trim and finely slice the spring onions and half the chili.
 
Put the mustard and cumin seeds and 2 tablespoons of oil into the frying pan, followed by the sliced spring onion and chili. Tip the lentils into the pan, squash in the tomato and add a punch salt and pepper and a splash of red wine vinegar. Toss occasionally for a couple of minutes, then turn the heat off. Rip the coriander stalks in the liquidizer with the juice of 1 lemon, the yoghurt, cashews, mango chutney and turmeric, then whizz up until smooth.
 
Remove the cooked chicken and mushrooms from the griddle and put the naan on the pan. Tip the baby spinach on to a serving board or platter, scatter over the lentils, speed-peel the cucumber and carrot over the top and sprinkle over the mushrooms. Slice the chicken, naan and remaining chili and arrange on top, then crumble over the feta and spoon over the dressing. Finish with the coriander leaves and serve with lemon wedges.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Chicken and Bacon Alfredo Bake

This was not at all what I intended to make. I intended to make a completely different recipe using chicken, bacon and mushrooms that really needed using and no pasta. However, when it came to it, I couldn't find that recipe so I used this one instead! I also meant to put mushrooms in and totally forgot so they go served on the side. This bake was however, really tasty, even if it wasn't what I meant to do!!
















Chicken and Bacon Alfredo Bake (from Must Have Mom)
(Serves 6)

360g dried pasta shapes
3 chicken breasts
425g jar Alfredo sauce
250g ricotta or cottage cheese
2 eggs beaten
25g Parmesan cheese, grated
handful fresh parsley, chopped
6 slices bacon
170g mozzarella cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions.
 
Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook the bacon and chicken until browned.
 
Once the pasta is cooked return it to the pot and toss with the alfredo sauce until coated.
 
Spray 23cm x 33cm pan with cooking spray and place half of pasta mixture into the dish.
 
Mix together the ricotta or cottage cheese, parsley, egg and Parmesan. Spread over the pasta. Add the chicken and bacon as the next layer pushing them down into the cheese mixture. Add the remaining pasta mixture and top with the mozzarella. Put into the oven and bake for 30 mins until golden and bubbling.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Mushroom, Asparagus and Turkey Barley Salad

This is a very simple but hearty salad, packed full of flavour.
















Mushroom, Asparagus and Turkey Barley Salad (adapted from 28 Cooks)
(Serves 2)

120g pearl barley
2 tbsp oil
1/2 onion, chopped
300g turkey, cut into strips
100g mushrooms, coarsely chopped
10 asparagus spears, cut into 1in pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp fennel seed, crushed
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, minced
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
30g goat's cheese

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the barley according to packet instructions. Drain well, run under the cold tap and drain again well.

Meanwhile, in large frying pan heat olive oil. Add onion, and saute 1 minute. Add the turkey and cook until just starting to turn golden, add the mushrooms, asparagus and garlic, and saute for 3 mins. Add the Italian seasoning and fennel seed, and saute until onions are translucent and the mushrooms and asparagus are tender.

Remove from the heat and place into large bowl, add the barley and mix together well. Stir in the parsley.

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil, and balsamic vinegar. Pour over the barley mixture and combine well. Season to taste with salt and pepper and crumble over the gaot's cheese. Serve warm or chilled.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Spanish Tortilla

This was one of the best store cupboard suppers I've had. It was so simple to put together and I pretty much always have the ingredients in. It was also really tasty, and weirdly I have never had a Spanish omelette before, I will definitely be making this one of my go to recipes
















Spanish Tortilla (adapted from Delia Complete Cookery Course)
(Serves 2-4)

4 large eggs
2 medium potatoes, cut into small dice
1 onion, chopped
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
2 tbsp oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the grill.

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the potatoes and cook for 8-10 mins, stirring from time to time, until they are evenly browned. Then add the onion, stir well and carry on cooking for 6-8 mins, add the pepper and stir.

Beat the eggs and season. Pour them over the vegetables in the frying pan. Cook over a medium heat for 3 mins or so, drawing the cooked egg into the centre of the pan, letting the liquid egg run into the gaps. When the omelette is firm but still slightly moist put it under the grill for a few mins until golden on top. Serve with a green salad.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Israeli Couscous with Asparagus, Peas, Sugar Snap and Crab

This was a lovely fresh summer salad, the crab was a really good addition to what was originally a veggie dish.



Israeli Couscous with Asparagus, Peas, Sugar Snaps and Crab
(adapted from Epicurious)
(Serves 2)

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
120g Israeli couscous (6 to 7 ounces)
100g asparagus spears, trimmed, cut  into 3/4in pieces
50g sugar snap peas, trimmed, cut into 1/2in pieces
50g shelled fresh green peas or frozen, thawed
1 tin white crab meat
2 tbsp chopped chives
30g Parmesan, grated

Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, 1 garlic clove, and lemon zest in small bowl.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the couscous according to packet instructions.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of oil in  frying pan over a high heat. Add asparagus, sugar snap peas, green peas, and remaining garlic clove. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté until tender, about 3 mins. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl.

Add the crab and couscous to the bowl with the vegetables. Drizzle over the dressing. Add the chives and Parmesan and toss. Season with salt and pepper and serve or leave to cool and pack into a lunchbox.

Meal Planning Monday

I apologise that this isn't up to the usual standard but I'm struggling with a very rubbish app and non functioning computers! I think I'm going to have to decamp to the library to blog! This is my meal plan this week, without links as the app doesn't have that function among many other things it's missing!

Monday
Out all day

Tuesday
Cauliflower Soup with Bread
Lamb, Pea and Mint Burger

Wednesday
Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese with Croissant
Out before the theatre

Thursday
Roast Carrot Salad with Feta
Sausage and Corn Bake with Salad

Friday
Tart or Quiche and Salad
Peach, Bacon and Blue Cheese Pizza

Saturday
Hot Smoked Salmon, New Potato and Broad Bean Salad
Flageolet Bean Pie with Salad
Sunday

Sea Bass with Sweet Potato Mash (Jamie's 30 Minute Meals)

Monday
Steak and Korean Fried Rice (Jamie's 15 Minute Meals)

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Avocado and Goat's Cheese Alfredo Pasta

I've had this recipe lying around for ages but never seem to have both avocado and goat's cheese in at the same time. Finally I did! This was lovely, really fantastic and creamy, with the slight Charles's of goat's cheese.



Avocado and Goat's Cheese Alfredo Pasta (from Closet Cooking)
(Serves 2)

120g linguine
1 large avocado, pureed
1/2 jalapeño
1 tbsp coriander
Juice 1 lime
1 tbsp butter or oil
1 clove garlic, grated
8 tbsp cream or milk
110g goat's cheese, crumbled
25g parmesan, grated
salt and pepper

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

Meanwhile, puree the avocado, jalapeno, coriander and lime juice in a food processor or blender and set aside.

Melt the butter in pan over medium heat, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute.

Add the cream, goat's cheese and parmesan, simmer until the cheese has melted, mix in the avocado mixture and heat to warm.

Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and serve hot over the pasta. Garnish with more goat cheese, avocado and coriander

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Baked Sea Bass with Radishes and Tarragon


I found this a little disappointing. Partly I think because my radishes were a bit old and tough but also because it didn't really pack a punch with flavour. I definitely preferred the Asian version I did a few weeks ago.
















Baked Sea Bass with Radishes and Tarragon (Nigel Slater in the Guardian)
(Serves 2)

2 sea bass fillets
75g butter
5g tarragon, finely chopped
6 radishes, halved
1 red onion, very thinly sliced

Preheat the oven at 180C. Melt the butter in a small pan then tip into the bowl of a food processor.

Remove the leaves from the tarragon stems and drop them into the butter with some salt and pepper. Blitz to a smooth, green dressing.

Cut two pieces of baking parchment large enough in which to loosely wrap the fillets of fish, one per parcel. Place a fillet on each and fold into a parcel, open at the top.

Place the radishes and the red onion on top of the fish and then divide the tarragon butter dressing between the two parcels. Seal the edges by folding and securing with wooden pegs or a skewer.

Bake the paper parcels for about 20-25 mins, then serve. Each parcel should be opened at the table, allowing the tarragon-scented steam to waft up.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Roast Aubergine with Goat's Cheese and Toasted Flatbread

This was a really tasty salad. Easy to put together and really flavourful.
















Roast Aubergine with Goat's Cheese and Toasted Flatbread
(from Good Food Magazine August 2010)
(Serves 2)

2 aubergines, thinly sliced lengthways
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 flatbread or pitta
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
handful mint leaves
2 shallots, 1 finely chopped, the other thinly sliced
salt and pepper
50g goat's cheese, crumbled
handful rocket, to serve

Heat oven to 200C. Brush the aubergine slices with 1 tbsp of the oil, then season. Arrange on a baking tray or sheet and roast for 20 mins until browned, putting the tomatoes on the tray for the final 5 mins. Tear the flatbread into pieces and place on a separate baking sheet. Brown in the oven for 8 mins, or until crisp, then remove.

To  make the dressing; mix the vinegar, mint, chopped shallots, remaining oil and salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
 
Scatter the aubergine slices, tomatoes, sliced shallot and crisp flatbread into a serving bowl. Pour over the dressing, sprinkle with the goat’s cheese and scatter over a little rocket.