Friday, 29 June 2012

Foodie Penpals June

This is my first month taking part in the Foodie Penpals , which I found over at Rock Salt. It seemed such a great idea that I was eager to join in! I am so glad I did, as I recieved a wonderful package from Kris at krisstonedotcom. She sent me aome lovely Thai ingredients, chopsticks/spoons and her own recipe for some Malayasian street food that I am dying to try! If you would like to see what I sent my penpal, you can visit her at tigheshillgarden.

My package included some Tom Ka Paste, which I am going to make a lovely Thai soup with, some tomato marinade for prawns, Shrimp stock cubes of which I have never seen before!), grated wasabi (I love making sushi, so very handy), a Sushi rolling mat, chopsticks, spoons, noodles and some Lavender Oolong tea which tastes amazing! I am thrilled with my package, thank you so much Kris!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Slow Cooker Gammon & Cauliflower Cheese.

This was an amazingly easy dinner! This morning I put a 1kg smoked gammon joint into the slow cooker and left it on all day. The smell in the house was delicious! Nothing goes better than gammon than cauliflower cheese :) This sauce was so creamy, I really do love this method of making it.

1 1kg gammon joint (I use smoked)

Pop in the slow cooker on high for 5 hours (or more, it doesnt matter)

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2 large handfuls of grated cheese (sorry, I forgot to weight it!)
1 tablespoon cornflour
250ml single cream
Pinch mustard powder

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil & cook teh cauliflower until tender. Warm the single cream in a saucepan and add the pinch of mustard powder. Heat the cream byt do not let it boil. Coat the grated cheese in the cornflour, then add to the warmed cream a bit at a time. Stir gently til it melts then add more. Serve poured on top of the cauliflower & gammon.

Pork Belly Slices & Roasted Fennel

These were deliciously crispy! I have always eyed up the pork belly in the supermarket, but never knew what to do with it. It is so cheap, I was determined to try it somehow. I decided to just roast it after marinatating it for an hour or so. I also had some fennel I had picked up, another food that I was determined to try. It smells very much like aniseed, so I was worried I wasnt going to like it - but I was wrong. Roasting it brought out a wonderful nutty flavour which I loved.

Pork Belly (you could use this marinade for a whole pork belly too)

7 or 8 pork belly slices
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 teaspoons chinese 5 spice
3 crushed garlic cloves
1 tsp sea salt

Mix all the ingredients together & marinadethe pork for at least an hour. Then preheat the oven to 220c and lay the pork belly out on a roasting tray. Put into the oven for 10 minutes, then drop the temp to 180 and cook for another 10 mins.

Roasted Fennel

1 whole fennel
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Cut the fennel into wedges, then coat in the oil/vinegar mix. Sprinkle with salt and place on a roasting tray & pop into teh oven for about 40 minutes at about 220c.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Tuna Crunch Lettuce Wraps

It's a lovely sunny day today, so we had a picnic in the garden. The Wee Man had a friend over for the afternoon, so they had a tray of picky things while I enjoyed these tuna wraps. I am quite fed up of bread/bread type things just now, so these cos lettuce leaves were perfect. I think they are more delicious this way, and surprisingly filling. I am going to serve these next time I have friends over for lunch :)

To make 4/5 wraps -

1 tin of tuna, drained
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 inch piece of cucumber, chopped into small dices
1 3 inch strip of red pepper, cut into small dices
2 spring onions, chopped
5 lettuce leaves for wraps

Mix the tuna, mayo, lemon juice, cucumber, pepper & spring onion. Spoon onto the lettuce leaves & serve immediately.

Thai Green Chicken Curry

This tasted much better than it looks! Thai green curry is one of my absolute favourites. Only me, my husband & our eldest daughter managed  to eat this though, as it is quite spicy. I use a jar of paste, as sourcing the ingredients to make my own would be a challenge in our town! You could change the vegetables to suit your own taste, I just happen to love baby corn & sugar snap peas.

1 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
1 large courgette cut into slices
75g baby corn cut into chucks
75g sugar snap peas
1 garlic clove , chopped
1 rounded tbsp or 4 tsp Thai green curry paste (you can't fit the tablespoon into some of the jars)
400ml can coconut milk
2 tsp Thai fish sauce
1 tsp caster sugar
450g boneless skinless chicken (breasts or thighs), cut into bite-size pieces
1 tsp lime juice
good handful of basil leaves
boiled rice , to serve

 In a wok or large frying pan, heat the oil until very hot, then drop in the garlic and cook until golden, this should take only a few seconds. Don't let it go very dark or it will spoil the taste. Spoon in the curry paste and stir it around for a few seconds to begin to cook the spices and release all the flavours. Next, pour in the coconut milk and let it come to a bubble. 

 Stir in the fish sauce and sugar, then the pieces of chicken. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 8 minutes until the chicken is cooked. 

Add the courgette, baby corn & peas, and heat through in the sauce. Sprinkle on lime juice to taste, and scatter the basil leaves to serve.

Homemade Pizza

Using my favourite book, The Takeaway Secret, I made these pizzas for lunch yesterday. The kids are having the leftovers in their packed lunches. I have made the thin crust version in the past, and I think I prefer that to this medium one. I made double quantities of the sauce (mostly because the passata I bought was 500ml and I didn't have any use for the other half) so now have some in the freezer for next time. You can put whatever toppings you like, I used up leftovers! Sweetcorn, onion & cherry tomatoes with grated mozzarella cheese.

Pizza Dough (makes 2 10inch medium crust pizza bases)

300g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp active dried yeast
210ml water

In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, sugar, oil and yeast. Slowly add the water & mix until it becomes a sticky dough. Place on a floured surface & knead for 4 minutes until you have a smooth dough. Rub a bowl with a little oil, place the ball of dough inside & cover with cling film. Allow to rise for 1 hour, until doubled in size.

Knock the air out of the dough, divide into 2 balls  and knead those for another minute. Place each ball into a small bowl & place in the fridge for 2 hours. After this, the dough is ready to use or to be frozen.

Sweet Pizza Sauce

250 ml passata
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp mixed Italian herbs

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan & simmer for 5-6 minutes, until thickened. Use on pizza dough or keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Lemon Curd Muffins

I was watching old episodes of the River Cottage Every Day tv series, and saw Hugh make these amazing looking muffins. I had to try them myself! I made lemon curd ones that were shown, but also cherry jam & blueberry curd ones too. You could even add a dollop of nutella if you wanted - that is what I am going to try next time. These were very easy to make, and tasted lovely & light. You have to mix the ingredients gently, as over-mixing can make the muffins too "cakey".

Makes 12
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
A good pinch of sea salt
100g caster sugar
1 medium egg
 125g plain yoghurt
125ml whole milk
75g unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
150g lemon curd ( iused 50g lemon curd for 4 muffins, 50g blueberry curd for 4 muffins and 50g cherry jam for the final 4)

1. Put 12 large paper cases into a muffin tray. Put the flour, baking powder, salt and caster sugar in a large bowl and whisk lightly..
2. Mix the egg, yoghurt, milk and melted butter together in a jug. Pour them into the dry ingredients and mix lightly, stopping as soon as everything is combined – it’s essential not to over-mix or you’ll get dense muffins.
3. Spoon a some mixture into each muffin case and top with a generous ½ teaspoonful of lemon curd. Add a final spoonful of muffin mixture to encase the lemon curd and three-quarters fill the cases.
4. Bake in an oven preheated to 180°C/gas mark 4 for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Eat on the day you bake them, ideally while still slightly warm.

Italian chicken rice

This was a bit of a "using up leftovers in the fridge" kind of dinner, based on a recipe that I had for an Italian rice dish. I added some veg that I needed to use up, namely courgettes & mushrooms. The rest is mostly store cupboard items, so its a great stand-by meal. Tasty & filling! You could easlily leave out the chicken to make this a vegetarian meal.

2 tbsp olive oil
3 skinless boneless chicken breast fillets or 4 boneless thighs, cut into strips
1 red onion , cut into 8 wedges
2 red or yellow peppers , halved, deseeded and sliced thickly
6 mushrooms, sliced
2 courgettes, sliced
1 garlic clove , crushed
200g basmati rice
400g can chopped tomatoes
600ml chicken stock 
Basil leaves for scattering.

Preheat the oven to 200C

In a hob/oven proof dish. heat up half the olive oil, and fry the chicken til golden. Remove and heat up the remaining oil, and stir frythe vegetables until softened. Add the garlic & stif fry for 1 minute. Add the rice, tomatoes and stock, and bring to the boil. Turn off teh heat, and put into the oven, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Scatter basil leaves to serve.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Lemon & Parsley Crusted Haddock

I always like a bargain, and this week Lidl had haddock fillets on special so I snapped a pack up. I had no idea what I was going to do with them until I remember a commentor on my blog mentioned breading fish with breadcrumbs & lemon zest. I had some Panko breadcrumbs left to use, but you could use any sort of breadcrumbs that you like. We had our fish with chips, peas & sweetcorn - yummy!

Serves 2

2 haddock pieces
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water added
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Salt/pepper for seasoning
zest of 1 lemon
olive oil for drizzling

Mix the breadcrumbs, parsley, lemon zest & season. Dip the haddock into the flour, tap off the excess, then dip into the beaten egg and finally into the breadcrumb mix, pressing on the crumbs to completely coat the fish. Repeat with the second fillet. Arrange on a bakingtray & drizzle with olive oil. Cook at 200C for about 20 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden & crispy.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Mad Hatters Tea Party!

Today I held a Mad Hatters Tea Party for my two daughters. I think they had great fun! The cake was a little bit fiddly, but I got there in the end. The party favours were very easy to make, as was the bunting & signposts. I loved all the childrens hats - one boy dressed up as the mad Hatter himself. I made Heart shaped sandwiches, a red sponge cake, chocolate topped cupcakes and the usual party fare. There was no food left afterwards :D

Friday, 15 June 2012

Sticky Pineapple Pork

This is one of th efavourite meals of all my children, so I make this often. Luckily, me & my husband love it too! Pork chops are one of my favourite meats, and I love Chinese flavours, so this meal is a real winner. After a day of rain (lovely summer we are having!) it was the perfect warm-up. We had jersey royal potatoes and sweetcorn with ours. There was cheesecake for pudding, but everyone was too full. I might have some for supper later (shhh!).

1 boneless pork chop per person (or 2 if you have a hungry husband like mine!)
1 tablespoon Chinese 5 spice
1 large red onion, sliced into wedges
1 red pepper, cut into chunks
2 tablspoons honey
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
140g tin pineapple chunks

Dust the pork chops on each side with the chinese 5 spice & rub in gently. Heat some oil in a frying pan, and cook the chops for around 6 minutes each side. Remove the chops to a warm plate, add another little drop of oil to the pan. Gently fry the onion & pepper until softened. Add the drained pineapple chunks and stri fry for about a minute. Add the honey, soy sauce, vinegar and the pork chops. Simmer for 5 minutes, turning the chops to glaze them in the sticky sauce. Serve with rice, noodles or potatoes,

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup

This soup is made from mostly left-overs! It is so tasty though, and warming on chilly days. You can even add sliced chillies to it if you like, for an extra kick. I prefer mine without! I had a leftover chicken breast from dinner the other night, so saved it especially to make this for my lunch. I sometimes add a wee pinch of chinese 5-spice, but didnt today. I have some left for tomorrow,  think soup always tastes better the next day. If you want to make it veggie, replace he chicken with tofu.

900ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tsp chopped fresh root ginger
1 garlic clove , finely chopped
50g rice or wheat noodles
2 tbsp sweetcorn , canned or frozen
2-3 mushrooms , thinly sliced
2 spring onions , shredded
2 tsp soy sauce , plus extra for serving
mint or basil leavesfor serving.

Pour the stock into a pan and add the chicken, ginger and garlic. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, partly cover and simmer for 20 mins, until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken to a board and shred into bite-size pieces using a couple of forks. 
Return the chicken to the stock with the noodles, corn, mushrooms, half the spring onions and the soy sauce. Simmer for 3-4 mins until the noodles are tender. Ladle into bowls and scatter over the remaining spring onions, herbs and chilli shreds if using. Serve with extra soy sauce for sprinkling.

Strawberry Chocolate Cheesecake

It was my girls birthday this week, and seeing as their big Mad Hatters Tea Party would be at the weekend (including their birthday cake), I let them pick another special dessert for their birthday tea. Both love this cheesecake! With strawberries in season just now, it tastes amazing. You could also use raspberries and swap the milk chocolate for white or dark. I am a bit of a messy cheesecake-maker, but it still tastes just as good.

150g fresh strawberries, sliced
300g cream cheese
200ml double cream
75g sugar
75g melted butter
180g digestive crumbs
100g milk chocolate, melted

Mix the digestive crumbs with the melted butter, and press into a loose-bottomed cake tin. Melt the chocolate, and poor over the biscuit base.

Combine the cream cheese, cream and sugar until thoroughly mixed, then stir in the chopped strawberries. Pile on top of the base, and smoooth down. Allow to chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Pasta Pesto Rosso

This recipe is based on the strozzapreti pesto rosso dish from Zizi's. Its a lovely creamy dish that goes well with a salad or crusty garlic bread. All the chikdren loved this, as did my husband. Red pesto is made with sun dried tomatoes, you can use a jar (like I did) or make your own (which I intend to try!). A very simple weekday dish that I intend to make again very soon.

Serves  4

4 chicken breasts, sliced
2 tb olive oil
1 tb lemon juice
1 ts Italian dried herbs
Half a garlic clove, crushed
4 spring onions, sliced
1 tb red pesto
2 tb creme fraiche
500g pasta
Fresh parsley to serve.

Mix 1 tb olive oil with the lemon juice, garlic & italian herbs, and coat the chicken with this mixture. Leave to marinade for 30 minutes.

Put the pasta on to cook, whilst heating the remaning olive oil in a pan. Brown the chicken, then add the spring onions. Stir fry for 1 minute then add the pesto & creme fraiche & reduce the pan heat to low.

When cooked al dente, drain the pasta reserving half a cupfull of the pasta water.  Add this water to the chicken & pesto mix. This will give your sauce a lovely silky texture (top pasta tip! always add some pasta water to creamy sauces). Add the pasta & mix gently, then serve with fresh parsley scattered on top.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Pizza Hut Warm Cookie Dough dessert

I had this once at Pizza Hut, and fell totally in love with it! Hot cookie dough with ice cream! I am not usually a sweet-tooth person, but this pudding is amazing. I was thrilled when my new recipe book, More Takeaway Secrets (the sequel to my other favourite cookbook!) arrived and contained the recipe. I have tweaked it slightly to be more like the Pizza Hut version. It makes 4 portions, but beware these are LARGE portions! Finish off with a dollop of ice-cream and a swirl of chocolate sauce. It is warm, gooey, chocolatey and cookie-ish all at once.

125g butter
100g caster sugar
100g brown sugar
1 egg
1 ts vanilla essence
1/2 ts salt
225g self-raising flour
100g chocolate chips

In a large bowl, mix the butter, caster & brown sugar. Add the egg & vanilla essence a mix again. Next add the flour, salt and choc chips, and mix again thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Divide the mixture between 4 pie dishes (I used foil pie trays as they were the perfect shape). Press the dough into the dishes and then put into the oven for 6 minutes.

Reduce the oven temp to 180C and continue to bake for around another 7 minutes, It should be golden on the top & soft in the middle.

Serve with ice-cream & sauce.

Tuna & Sweetcorn Slice

We just wanted a light dinner tonight, as we have a verytasty pudding for after! I can never manage a proper meal and puddings in one sitting, so we tend to have soup/sandwiches/something light on Pudding Nights. This is very quick & simple to make, and the ingredients are also simple. It would make a very tasty lunch and would also be great as part of a buffet.

320g pack ready-rolled puff pastry
185g can tuna drained and flaked
325g can sweetcorn , drained
3 tbsp crème fraîche
50g cheddar , grated
a few chives , snipped to 1cm lengths

Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/ gas 7. Lay the pastry out on a baking sheet. Pinch up the edges to form a border, pressing firmly into the corners. Prick the centre all over with a fork and pop in the oven for 10-15 mins.
Meanwhile, mix the tuna and sweetcorn in a bowl and season.  
Remove the pastry from the oven, pressing the centre down with the back of a fork, as it will have puffed up a bit. Spread the crème fraîche across centre, spoon the tuna mix on top, then sprinkle over the cheese. Bake for 10-15 mins more, until golden, puffed up and cooked though. Sprinkle with chives and cut into quarters

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Breadcrumb Pesto Spaghetti

I was watching old epsiodes of the River Cottage Everyday TV show, and saw Hugh make this dish -and I just had to make it! I had all the ingredients on hand (I grow my own herbs so had planty of fresh parsley) so could make it straight away. Big Bee doesnt like sausages, which everyone else was having, so I made this pasta for just the two of us. It took mere minutes to knock up! One of the quickest meals I have ever made :) It is tastier than the ingredients appear, definitely worth trying.

 60g coarse wholemeal or granary breadcrumbs
 Large bunch of parsley, leaves only
1 small garlic clove, roughly chopped
150-200ml olive oil
50g Parmesan or matured hard goat's cheese, finely grated
Juice of ½ lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Toast the breadcrumbs in a small frying pan for a few minutes, until crisp and nutty, then leave to cool.
Put the parsley leaves and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped (or chop them by hand, if you prefer). Transfer to a bowl and stir in enough oil to create a thinnish paste. Stir in the cheese and breadcrumbs, thin with a little more oil if you want, then adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
The breadcrumbs give this pesto a coarse, chunky texture.

American Breakfast Pancakes

I wanted to make a tasty, filling Sunday morning breakfast, so decided to try the American breakfast pancakes like those you get at McDonalds! They were very easy to make and cook. A good tip for perfect pancake batter is to leave some small lumps in the uncooked batter, dont over-whisk. These small lumps disappear whilst cooking and leave you with perfect, delicious pancakes!

120g self raising flour
Pinch of salt
30 g caster sugar
1 egg
142 ml/¼ pint milk

In one bowl, mix the flour, sugar & salt. In another, mix the egg & milk. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry whilst whiskung gently. Combine the ingredients but do not over-mix and allow some small lumps to be left.

Heat a small frying pan with a tiny amount of oil or butter. Ladel in a dollop of the batter, and tilt the pan to make a medium sized pancake, Cook until small bubbles appear in the pancake, about a minute. Flip and cook the other side for around a minute. Remove to a warm plate and repeat with the rest of the batter. You should get 8 pancakes Serve with maple syrup, bananas, lemon or sugar. Also good with scrambled egg, american breakfast sausage and eggs.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Chicken satay, spare ribs & fried rice.

Nope, I did not order in a takeaway :) This was all made by me, and actually tasted great. I used recipes from my Old Faithful, The Takeaway Secrets recipe book by Kenny McGovern. I really do recommend this book to anyone who loves a good takeaway and wants to make their own. Everything is easy to make, and usually tastes just like the real thing. Tonight I made spare ribs, satay chicken & egg fried rice. You need to make the marinade for the ribs in advance, and also have some cold, cooked rice ready.

Spare Ribs

2 teaspoons garlic & ginger paste (I use the Lazy jars of garlic & ginger & mix them)
8 tablespoons tomato ketchup
3 tablespoons honey
½ tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 kg/2.2 lb pork ribs

Mix the garlic/ginger paste with the ketchup, honey & soy sauce, then coat the spare ribs. Marinade for at least 4 hours, overnight is ideal though.

Heat the oven to 200c, and lay a heatproof bowl containing water in the bottom. Place the ribs on a tray and cook for 8 minutes on the middle shelf. Turn the ribs and cook for another 8 minutes. Turn again, place on the top shelf and cook for a final 8 minutes.

Chicken Satay

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ small onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon mild Madras curry powder
3 tablespoons peanut butter
2 teaspoons soy sauce
200 ml/7 fl oz coconut milk
75 ml/2½ fl oz water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
wooden skewers
3 large skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ginger powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cornflour

In a small saucepan or frying pan, heat the vegetable oil over a low-medium heat. Add the chopped onion and stir fry for 1–2 minutes until just beginning to soften. Add the curry powder and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the peanut butter and stir-fry for another minute until beginning to melt. Add the soy sauce, coconut milk, water, sugar and dried chilli flakes. Bring to the boil then simmer on a low heat until the sauce is combined and the desired consistency is reached. Remove from the heat and set aside. The sauce will thicken upon cooling and can be reheated when needed, adding a little water if necessary.

Soak the wooden skewers in cold water for 30 minutes to prevent them from burning.

Trim any excess fat from the chicken breast and cut into 6–8 long, thin strips. Add the soy sauce, garlic powder, ginger powder and vegetable oil. Mix well and marinade for 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of cornflour and mix well again. Ribbon the chicken strips onto the soaked wooden skewers, piercing each piece of chicken several times.  Grill the skewered chicken on a high heat for around 2 minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked through and just beginning to char. Remove the cooked chicken skewers and arrange on a serving plate. Drizzle with the prepared satay sauce and serve with fried rice.

Egg Fried Rice

150g basmati rice (ubcooked weight) cooked & cooled completely
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 spring onions, chopped (optional)
Any veg you like (I add mushrooms, frozen peas & frozen sweetcorn)

3 eggs lightly beaten with a pinch of salt

Heat some oil in a large wok. Add the rice & stir until completely coated. Add teh soy sauce & vegetables, and mix through. Make a well in the middle of teh rice, and add teh beaten egg. Lightly whisk the egg as it cooks, then mix into teh rice once it has scrambled slightly. Season & serve when the rice & egg is all heated through.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Empire Roast Chicken

Can't decide between a curry and a roast dinner? Have both! This is, by far, our favourite roast dinner. Its from Jamie Olivers website, and the flavours are amazing. The gravy is unusual but really tasty, I would recommend you definitely make it along side the chicken. I also made the bombay roast potatoes, and served a side salad alongside. Now a chicken will usually last us for at least 2 meals - not this one! The kids & my husband picked the carcass completely clean. It was an amazing dinner, if I do say so myself. It really is worth the faff of cooking it. Cannot wait to have it again! Please remember that you have to marinate the chicken overnight!

For the chicken and marinade
  1.4kg free-range chicken
  1 heaped tablespoon each
finely grated garlic, fresh
ginger and fresh red chilli
  1 heaped tablespoon
tomato purée
  1 heaped teaspoon each of
ground coriander, turmeric,
garam masala and ground cumin
  2 heaped teaspoons
natural yogurt
  2 lemons
  2 level teaspoons sea salt

For the gravy
  1 stick of cinnamon
  3 small red onions, peeled
  10 cloves
  3 tablespoons each of
white wine vinegar and
Worcestershire sauce
  3 level tablespoons plain flour

 800ml chicken stock
  optional: natural yogurt,
to serve

For the Bombay-style potatoes
  800g new potatoes
  sea salt and ground pepper
  1 lemon
  2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
  a knob of butter
  1 heaped teaspoon each
of black mustard seeds,
cumin seeds, garam masala
and turmeric
  1 bulb of garlic
  1 fresh red chilli, deseeded
and finely sliced
  2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  1 small bunch of fresh coriander

 Slash the chicken’s legs a few times right down to the bone. Get a roasting tray slightly bigger than the chicken, then add all of the marinade ingredients and mix together well. Put on a pair of clean rubber gloves, then really massage those flavours over and inside the chicken so it’s smeared everywhere. Ideally marinate overnight in the fridge.

 Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6 and organize your shelves so the roasting tray can sit right at the bottom, the chicken can sit directly above it, right on the bars of the shelf, and the potatoes can go at the top. Halve any larger potatoes, then parboil them in a large pan of salted boiling water with a whole lemon for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through. Drain the potatoes then let them steam dry

Roughly chop the onions and add to the roasting tray along with the cinnamon stick, cloves, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, then whisk in the flour. Pour in the stock or water, then place this right at the bottom of the oven. Place the chicken straight on to the bars of the middle shelf, above the roasting tray. Cook for 1 hour 20 minutes.

Put another sturdy roasting tray over a medium heat and add the olive oil, a knob of butter, the mustard and cumin seeds, garam masala and turmeric – work quickly because if the fat gets too hot the mustard seeds will pop everywhere. Halve a bulb of garlic and add it straight to the pan, with the sliced chilli and chopped tomatoes. Add your drained potatoes to the tray, mix everything together, then season well. Finely slice and scatter in the coriander stalks, and keep the leaves in a bowl of water for later. After the chicken has been in for 40 minutes, put the potatoes in.

Once the chicken is cooked, move it to a board and carefully peel off the dark charred bits to reveal perfect chicken underneath. Pass the gravy through a coarse sieve into a pan, whisking any sticky goodness from the pan as you go. Bring to the boil and either cook and thicken or thin down with water to your preference. Put it into a serving bowl and drizzle over a little yogurt. Get your potatoes out of the oven and put them into a serving bowl, then serve the chicken on a board next to the sizzling roasties and hot gravy

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Sloppy Joe Casserole

I wanted to try something different withthe pack of mince I had lurking in the fridge. A fried shared a recipe for BBQ Sloppy Joes, and after having a root around the internet because I didnt have the right ingredients for her version, I came up with this recipe.

BBQ Sloppy Joe

500g beef mince
2 onions whizzed up
4 tablespoons of BBQ sauce
400g tinned tomatoes
400 ml beef stock
400g tin berlotti beans
8 slices garlic bread (see recipe below or use a ready made garlic baguette)

Heat some oil in a large hob & oven proof dish. Add the onion and fry for a few minutes. Add the mince & brown. Add the BBQ sauce, stock, beans and tomatoes. Simmer for 20 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Add the slices of garlic bread and pop into the oven for 20 minutes until the garlic bread is baked.

Garlic Bread (this is taken from the Takeaway Secret recipe book)

8 slices of baguette/ciabatta
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
Pinch of dried parsley
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper

Combine the ingredients and spread evenly on the bread slices. Bake in teh oven at 200C for 20 minutes.

Cooking Tips - Chopping an apple with your bare hands!

How to break an apple with your hands!

This isnt really a "cooking" tip, but it is a great party trick! It might even come in handy, epecially if you do need to cut an apple into chunks for a small child or on a picnic. I thought it looked quite fun, can't wait to try it!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Fish Goujon Wraps & Tartare Sauce

Basically, fish finger sandwiches! I defrosted a block of haddock, then decided I didnt fancy having it afterall so decided to make these wraps for the kids tea tonight. I think I need a different batter recipe - this one was too stodgy! I didnt like it, but the kids were ahppy with it. If anyone has a recipe for a nice crisp, light batter then please do share. There was salad leaves leftover from yesterday, and I made a quick tartare sauce. I do love homemade tartare sauce! It is just a basic recipe (no capers in it) but we all like this version better than jarred versions.


120g plain flour
1 ts baking powder
1/2 ts salt
120ml water
1 tb vinegar
1 egg

Add the water to the flour/salt/baking powder & whisk into a thick batter. Add the vinegar & egg and combine thoroughly.

Slice your haddock (or any fish fillet) into chunky fingers. Coat in seasoned plain flour, tap off teh excess, then dip into the batter until thoroughly coated. Fry in very hot oil (if it is not hot enough, it is just very greasy) for about 5 minutes until golden & crispy. Add to wraps with salad and tartare sauce..

Tartare Sauce

60 ml mayonaise
1/2 ts lemon juice
1/2 ts finely chopped onion
1 tb finely chopped gherkin

Combine all the ingredients, and chill in the fridge for 2 hours to let the flavour develop.

After trying to "finely chop" onion & gherkin, I have decided I need a mini chopper!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Hoisin Beef

I love hoisin sauce! It is one of my favourite Chinese flavours. We all love noodles in our house, so nobody minded having them twice in one week. The girls would have noodles every day if I let them. You could add whatever vegetables your family like to this dish, especially spring onion, baby corn or spring greens. I went for carrot, chesnut mushrooms and mange tout, as that is what I had in the fridge to use up. The sesame seeds do add a lovely taste, so add them if you can.

1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dry sherry
2 tsp sesame oil
1 fat garlic clove , crushed
1 tsp finely chopped fresh root ginger (or fresh ginger paste in a jar)
200g frying beef , thinly sliced across the grain
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large carrot , cut into matchsticks
100g mangetout , halved lengthways
140g mushrooms , sliced
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
Chinese noodles , to serve

  1. Mix together the soy sauce, sherry, sesame oil, garlic and ginger in a shallow dish. Add the steak and leave to marinate for about 20 minutes (or longer, if you have time).
  2. Heat a large heavy-based frying pan or wok, add the sesame seeds and toast over a high heat, stirring, for a few minutes until golden. Tip on to a plate.
  3. When ready to cook, heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan or wok until hot. Add the steak with the marinade and stir fry for 3-4 minutes over a high heat until lightly browned. Remove, using a slotted spoon, on to a plate, leaving the juices in the pan.
  4. Toss the carrots in the pan and stir fry for a few minutes, then add the mangetout and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  5. Return the steak to the pan, add the mushrooms and toss everything together. Add the hoisin sauce and stir fry for a final minute. Sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Saturday, 2 June 2012


This is my first ever attempt at sushi - and it was easy! I am not sure what I expected, but it was simple to prepare. I managed to source all the ingredients locally, no need for an Asian supermarket. The rice wine vinegar & Nori (seaweed sheets) were utterly cheap at Home Bargains (29p each!), the sushi rice was easy to find in our small Tesco in the World Food aisle and the rolling mat came from Asda. The fillings were just avocado, peeled cucumber, crab sticks and tamagoyaki (a sweet Japanese sweet omlette). You could also add pappers, tuna, prawns, salmon etc. Rolling it up wasnt hard either - the rolling mat came with very clear instructions. This is definitely something I will make again!

1 Egg Tamagoyaki - (only if you want to include omlette in your sushi)
  • 1 ‘large’ egg
  • 1 Tbs. water
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce (regular or light-colored; here I used regular, since that’s all I had in stock)
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. bonito flakes (optional, for added flavor)
  • Vegetable oil for cooking
Whisk all the ingredients together lightly with a fork. Heat a small frying pan, then add the mixture. Stir with a fork or chopsticks until it is half cooked. Then fold over one side, thenthe other, until you have a long thin omlette. Press down, let it cook for another 30 seconds then remove & allow to cool before using in sushi. Cut into strips.

  • 300g sushi rice
  • 2 tbsp rice or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 large avocado
  • juice ½ lemon
  • 4 sheets nori seaweed
  • 4crab sticks, cut in half lengthways
  • 1 bunch chives 
  • 1 egg tamagoyaki
  • 3 inch piece of cucumber, peeled & cut into thin strips

  • Put the rice in a small pan with 600ml water. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 mins until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Stir through the vinegar and sugar, cover and cool.
  • Skin, stone and slice the avocado. Put in a bowl and squeeze over the lemon juice, turning the avocado to ensure the pieces are covered.
  • Divide the rice between the nori sheets and spread it out evenly, leaving a 2cm border at the top . Lay the tamagoyaki over the rice, followed by the chives and finally position the avocado across the centre of one sheet.
  • Add the crab sticks and cucumber to the other.
  • Fold the bottom edge of the seaweed over the filling, then roll it up firmly. Dampen the top border with a little water to help it seal the roll. Repeat to make 4 rolls. At this stage, the rolls can be wrapped individually in cling film and chilled until ready to serve.
  • Using a serrated knife, cut each roll into 8 rounds.