Thursday, 29 November 2012

Thai Salmon Parcels

These are based on a recipe from the Lorraine Pascale cookbook called "tinfoil trout". I couldnt get trout, so I used salmon instead. It still tasted amazing. Serve with some noodles tossed in sesame oil with a few beansprouts chucked in, or a nice rice dish. Wrap the foil with a tight seal, but loose around the fish to let the steam circulate. I have more salmon fillets in the fridge, so looking forward to making this again soon.

4 salmon fillets
8 spring onions
1 red pepper
1 garlic clove
1 piece of ginger, finger size
1 red chilli
Handful coriander leaves
4 teaspoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons sesame oil
Juice of 1 lime

Preheat the oven to 200c. Cut the spring onions into thin julienne strips (fine strips). repeat with the ginger & red pepper. Finely chop the garlic and chilli. Mix all these together. Mix the soy sauce, sesame oil & lime juice together. Place a salmon fillet on a square of tinfoil, then top with a quarter of the vegetable mix and then a quarter of the sauce mix. Seal each parcel, place on a baking tray & cook for 12 minutes. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Savoury Breakfast Muffins

I get bored with cereal and toast for breakfast, so when I tried these I was very happy! I make a batch up & keep them in the fridge for everyone to help themselves to. They are tasty hot or cold, you can reheat in the microwave if you want to. I eat mine cold though, except from when they are fresh out of the oven. This recipe makes enough for a 6 muffin tin. You can add any meat/veggie that you like - peppers, onion, chorizo, chicken and tomato would all be tasty. A great way to use up those wee bits of veg left in the bottom of the fridge.

4 large eggs
100ml whole milk
Salt & pepper to season
4 slices thinly sliced ham, chopped
6 mushrooms chopped
Large chunk freshly grated Parmesan(amount to your taste)
Chopped fresh parsley leaves

Combine all the ingredients and mix thoroughly but gently. Divide equally between the 6 muffin cups. Put into a preheated oven (200C) for 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Seared Tuna & Cucumber Relish

I fancied a light dinner tonight, after having had some creamy, rich meals this week! I picked up a tuna steak in Morrisons, and made this light relish to go with it. You could add some boiled new potatoes too, or maybe a rice salad. I used the very last of my fresh parsley making this, I don't think I'll have much more grow now before spring :( I maybe have to buy a pot to keep on my windowsill until the garden flourishes again. Do any of you grow your own herbs?

Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil
4 tuna steaks , about 140g/5oz each
½ cucumber
2 spring onions , finely chopped
1 medium tomato , finely chopped
½ large red chilli , seeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp lime or lemon juice

 Put the oil into a food bag and add the tuna steaks. Rub well together and leave for 30 mins while you make the relish. Peel the cucumber, halve lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Chop the flesh into a small dice. Mix with the rest of the ingredients, seasoning to taste. Set aside.
Heat the pan to hot, then cook the steaks, turning after 2 mins, and cooking for another 2 mins each side depending on the thickness of the steaks. Remove the steaks from the heat allow to stand for 3-5 mins, then spoon over the relish and serve.

Braised Cabbage

I saw this recipe recommended on a recipe thread, and just had to try it. Who knew cabbage could be so tasty? My kids all LOVED it. I even ate the leftovers for lunch the next day. I served mine as a side dish to roast guinea fowl and celeriac fondant. Can't wait to have it again!

1 whole white cabbage
250ml (or thereabouts) cream
Salt & pepper
25g butter

Remove the outer layer of leaves.  Cut the cabbage in half, through the stalk. Cut those in half, and then in half again. You should have 8 wedges with a piece of stalk at the bottom. Heat a frying pan and melt the butter. Add the cabbage wedges and cook until brown on one side. Flip and brown the other side. Pour over the cream and then place a lid on & lower the heat. Allow to cook gently for about 20/30 minutes, it will be nice & soft.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Celeriac Fondant

I am a huge Masterchef fan, and sometimes I am just itching to try some of the recipes. Quite often, contestants make potato fondants, which didn't really excite me. One day though, one made a celeriac fondant that DID excite me! I had a guinea fowl that I wanted to roast, and felt like it needed something a little different to go with it, celeriacs are in season just now, and are so tasty. This method of cooking it brought out an amazing flavour, it is now one of my favourite dishes. I reduced the stock right down after the fondant was cooked, and used it as a gravy - delicious! We had guinea fowl, braised cabbage along with the celeriac fondant.

1 celeriac
Enough stock to almost cover the fondants in the pan (i use chicken stock)
1 crushed garlic clove
25g butter plus a drizzle of olive oil

Cut the celeriac into 2 cm deep rectangles (or circles if you prefer, use a cookie cutter). Heat the oil & butter in a large pan, then brown the celeriac wedges on both sides until golden. Pour in the stock, add the garlic & seasonings and then allow to simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes. the celeriac should be cooked through. Remove the celeriac to a warm plate and reduce the stock down until you are left with less than half the amount. Pour over the celeriac.

How I Cook My Steaks ...

Everyone has their favourite way of cooking a steak. Ask about, and the methods are wide & varied. This is my particular way of doing it - having seen Heston do this on his Heston At Home series. I now use this method for gammon steaks & pork chops too, all turn out delicious!

Allow your steak to come to room temperature before cooking, in the open air to dry.
Sprinkle with a little salt (no pepper, add this afterwards, it will burn whilst cooking)
Heat a frying pan with a little oil to a high heat
Add the steak and allow to sizzle for 15 seconds (ish, its not exact)
Flip your steak
Flip again after another 15 seconds.
Repeat the 15 second flipping until it is cooked to your liking.
Allow to stand for 10/15 minutes, to allow the juices to all soak back in. This is an important step for a juicy steak.
Season & serve!

I like mine medium, sometimes medium rare, served with chips & onion rings, or creamed leeks & fried mushrooms.

I would love to hear your steak-cooking method, leave a comment below ....>

Kids Can Cook - Mince & Dumplings

My 12 year old daughter has always shown an interest in cooking (just like her mum), but I feel she is now old enough to start to use cookbooks & prepare a proper meal for the family. I bought this great wee cookbook for her, called Maw Broons Cooking For Bairns. As anyone Scottish person would know, The Broons are a cartoon family who are typically Scottish. I love getting my Broons book every Christmas! There have been a few cookery books released, and this one caught my eye. What better way for my daughter to cook than to learn the old-fashioned Scots way!

The meal she decided on was mince & doughballs (dumplings). It had just a few ingredients, and just one pot (minimal mess, I was thinking). She managed very well, and produced a meal for herself & her siblings - who all enjoyed it. I will definitely be letting her loose in the kitchen more often!

500g beef mince
2 carrots, diced
2 onions diced
Salt & pepper to season
500ml beef stock
2 tablespoons oil

150g self raising flour
50g suet
salt & pepper
3.5 tablespoons water

Heat up a large saucepan with the 2 tablespoons of oil on a medium heat. Fry the onion for about 7 minutes, until soft & golden. Add the mince, and stir in with the onions. Cook until all the mince has browned. Add the carrots & stock and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.

To make the dumplings, mix the suet, flour & water with your hands and make into 8 balls. Add to the top of the mince after you have added he stock.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Eggs in Purgatory

I saw this dish on Nigella's Nigelissima on TV recently. They looked easy to make, budget friendly and very tasty - and all round winner for me! They took about 5/10 minutes max to make so perfect at lunch time. I made this just for myself, if you want to feed more just times the ingredients by how many people you are serving. Serve with a big chunk of bread to mop up the juices.

1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 or 2 eggs (depending on your appetite)
Olive oil
1 garlic clove
Pinch of chilli powder or flakes

Heat a small frying pan, and heat the olive oil. Add the garlic & chilli and heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, and allow to come to a simmer. Crack in your egg(s) sprinkle on some parmesan, cover & allow the eggs to poach. You want the egg whites cooked but the yolk runny, so keep an eye on it. Either eat from the pan (ala Nigella) or transfer to a plate. Top with a little more parmesan, then tuck in with your hunk of bread.

Slow Cooker Boston Baked beans

I love to cook a gammon joint in my slow cooker with nothing but 2 tablespoons of brown sugar in with it. The meat that comes out is amazing! As soon as I remove the gammon though, I am left with a crock pot full of gammon & brown sugar stock, which seems a shame to waste. This time I added some beans & other ingredients, plus some left over shredded gammon, and created these tasty boston baked beans. They were fab on jacket potatoes topped with cheese.

Leftover gammon & brown sugar liquid from slow cooker
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp tomato purée
1 tbsp maple syrup
 2 tsp English mustard powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 x 400g cans cannellini or haricot beans, drained and rinsed - I used a tin of both
Leftover shredded gammon

Just add all the ingredients to the slow cooker, and cook on low for as long as you can. Mine were on for about 8 hours.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Guest Post - Simple Chicken Soup

I invited some of my family & friends to write up their favourite recipes to include on my blog as guest posts. Here is the first, from my cousin Heather, who also loves to cook. This is her recipe for a basic chicken soup.

~Basic Chicken Soup~
900mls boiling water
1-2 chicken stock cubes (I use one, but I like this to taste less salty)
225g skinless chicken breast, cubed into bite sized pieces
1 red pepper, sliced into thin slices and halved
1-2 tbsp fresh tarragon chopped, or 1-2 tsp dried if you can't get fresh
a small bunch of chives cut into pieces.
2 tbsp medium sherry, or 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
Purple sprouting broccoli or shredded curly kale
a large handful or two of frozen sweetcorn kernels
Bring the stock to the boil and add the pepper and sweetcorn,
Let boil for a couple of minutes, then add the chicken.
Allow to simmer for 5 minutes before adding the sherry/vanilla and herbs.
Stir and then place the greens on top, don't stir them in, allow the broccoli/kale to cook on top. Place a lid on the pan if you wish but keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't boil over.
After 5 more minutes give the soup a careful stir. Taste a little of the broth to see if you need to add any salt or pepper.
You can add twists to this soup.
Exchange the kale for pak choi, and the tarragon for ginger (be careful and add a small amount, and add more as you need) break up a portion of the dried fine egg noodles and add and a slug of good rich soy sauce will give you an oriental version (for people that like a kick, add a finely shredded fresh red chilli too)
You can add different vegetables depending what you have in the fridge and cupboards. All greens go well. Onions for extra flavour. Only potatoes would thicken the broth and make the texture weird.

Chicken Fricasse

This was a dish that included all of my favourite ingredients - chicken, mushrooms and cream! My girls are away this weekend, so I made this for just the 3 of us, which meant plenty to go round. The sauce was so tasty I was almost tempted to lick my plate. You could use sliced onion instead of shallots if you wished, it wouldn't make a huge difference to the flavour. Serve it whichever vegetables you like, and perhaps a big dollop of creamy mash. I always like to use up whatever veg I have left in the fridge - which happened to be carrots & green beans today.It tastes just as great

Serves 4

8 chicken thighs
2 tablespoons butter
250g button mushrooms
12 shallots
400ml chicken stock
250ml white wine
75ml double cream
1 bouquet garni (bay leaf, thyme stalk & parsley stalk tied together)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
salt & pepper to season

Heat the oven to 180c. Melt 1 tblspn butter in a flame-proof casserole dish, and brown the chicken on both sides until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate. Add the wine, allow to bubble for a minute then add the stock. Chuck in the bouquet garni, and stir while it bubbles & thickens. After about 5 minutes, season & taste then add the chicken on top, cover & pop into the oven for 1 hour.
Melt the remaining  butter in a frying pan, and brown the mushrooms & shallots for around 5/6 minutes. Add to the casserole dish with the chicken, and return to the oven for another hour.

Serve the chicken to the plates, leaving the stock behind in the dish. Add the cream & parsley, and mix through. Taste & season, then pour over the chicken.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Irish Stew

It's not St Patricks Day, but when I found this recipe I just had to try it. I have only ever had Irish stew from a tin before (gag) so was eager to try the real thing. We are not big lamb eaters, but I will buy it occasionally. I find it quite expensive when you are feeding a family, but this recipe uses cheap cuts (scrag end or neck fillets are perfect). Its slow cooker so the meat becomes really tender. With pearl barely added, its a hearty meal! I was stuffed after one bowlful. This recipe made plenty, there were some leftovers for my lunch with a hunk of crusty bread & butter. This recipe tastes even better the next day, so if you can, cook it a day early & reheat when you need it - its worth it!

1 tbsp olive oil
125g smoked streaky bacon cut into chunks
500g stewing lamb , cut into large chunks
3 medium onions , sliced
3 carrots , sliced into chunks
2 bay leaves
small bunch thyme
75g pearl barley
500ml lamb stock
6 medium potatoes , cut into chunks

 Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole. Sizzle the bacon for 4 mins until crisp. Turn up the heat, then cook the lamb for 6 mins until brown. Remove the meats with a slotted spoon. Add the onions, carrots and herbs to the pan, then cook for about 5 mins until softened. Return the meat to the pan, stir in the pearl barley, pour over the stock, then bring to a simmer.
 Sit the chunks of potato on top of the stew, cover, then braise in the oven, undisturbed, for about 1½ hrs until the potatoes are soft and the meat is tender. You could also tip into a slow cooker & cook on low for 4 hours.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Swedish Meatballs with Dill sauce (like Ikea)

I have never tried Ikea meatballs, but I have heard everyone rave about them. With no Ikea near me, I have had to make my own to see what the fuss is all about :) Well, they went down a storm in our household! I have had requests from them all to make them again, soon. I was wary about having meatballs in a creamy sauce, but it worked and it was delicious. I think you are supposed to serve them with lingonberry sauce, but I am unlikely to find that in our small town, so I substituted cranberry. Tasted lovely, so I think it was good substitute. I am looking forward to making these again, I liked them a lot more than I thought I would. I served ours with boiled new potatoes. For a low carb version, leave out the breadcrumbs and serve with veg ribbons instead of potatoes.

Serves 4
200g minced beef
250g minced pork
1 egg
1 small onion, blitzed or finely diced
100g of breadcrumbs
pinch of nutmeg
oil for frying
200ml beef stock
200ml double cream
400g  new potatoes
fresh dill chopped
cranberry sauce to serve

Combine the mince, egg, onion, breadcrumbs nutmeg & salt & pepper, and really get it mixed with your hands. Form into small walnut size meatballs. Heat up the oil in a  frying pan to a medium heat, and brown the meatballs on all sides. Add the stock & cream, and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. The sauce should thicken slightly. Sprinkle with dill & serve with a dollop of cranberry sauce & potatoes.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Creamy Pesto Pasta

This is one of those meals that just uses up the odds & ends in the fridge. Half a tub of this, half a jar of that, the 2 leftover chicken breasts and half a pack of mushrooms. I always keep a wedge of parmesan in my freezer, its grates perfectly from frozen. I made this for just me and my husband, but there are enough leftovers for my eldest daughter (who loves pesto) to have for lunch tomorrow with a nice chuck of crusty bread. It is quite a quick meal, it took me less than 30 minutes from start to finish. try using an interesting shaped pasta to liven it up a little. This is nice cold as well as hot. Add some pine nuts to add a crunch to the dish.

Serves 2 with leftovers. You can make more/less than my amounts, I was just using up extras from the fridge.

2 chicken breasts, diced
10 mushrooms, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Olive oil
Half a jar of basil pesto (or use homemade, recipe here.)
Half a tub of creme fraiche
Tablespoon of pine nuts (optional, but great for a crunchy texture)
300g of dried or fresh pasta
Fresh parmesan to garnish

Heat the oil on a medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the mushrooms & garlic, and stir fry for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the chicken and fry until coloured (about 10 minutes). Put the pasta on to cook, and cook til al dente. Save about 2 tablespoons of the pasta water.
While the pasta cooks, add the pine nuts & fry for another 3/4 minutes. Add the pesto and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the creme fraiche and heat through. Add the pasta water, stir and then add the pasta. Toss the pasta in the sauce until it is all coated.
Serve in bowls with fresh grated parmesan on top.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Sausage & Bean Casserole

I love this kind of comfort food when its cold! The smokey paprika in this gave it a Bonfire Night feel, very comforting. There was plenty for the 5 of us, with crusty bread to mop up the sauce. I love chorizo, but I picked a mild one (from Lidl) so that it wasnt too spicy for the children. You could use any beans you liked, I used haricot because I had some in the cupboard.

2 tbsp olive
1 onion , finely chopped
2 medium sticks celery , finely chopped
1 yellow pepper , chopped
1 red pepper , chopped
3  garlic cloves , chopped
1 chorizo sausage (about 300g), sliced
6 pork sausages
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp dried thyme
125ml white wine
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 chicken stock cube
1 x 400g tin haricot beans, rinsed

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based pan. Brown the pork sausages, then remove. Fry the chorizo until the oil turns orange & it is slightly crispy. Remove the chorizo but leave the oil. Add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the celery and peppers and cook for a further 5 mins. Return the cooked sausages to the pan.
Stir in the garlic, spices and dried thyme and continue cooking for 1 - 2 mins or until the aromas are released.
Pour in the wine and use a wooden spoon to remove any residue stuck to the pan. Add the tinned tomatoes, and fresh thyme and bring to a simmer. Crumble in the stock cube and stir in.
Cook for 40 minutes. Stir in the beans and cook for a further five minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs, season with black pepper and serve.

Giveaway Winner!

The winner is ... Eleanor Jones! Please get in touch with your postal address, thank you :)