Sunday, 31 October 2010

My version of Jamie's 30mm 'Pregnant Jool's Pasta' - Ragu

After this photo was taken I added lots more sauce, cheese and black pepper.
I've been watching Jamie's 30minute meals, and brought the cookbook that goes with it, and saw this ragu recipe! I've never made a ragu, usually opting for spaghetti bolognese. But I saw a bag of multi-grain tagliatelle that Sainsburys have just brought back and thought this would be perfect with it!
I've modified the recipe, using the tagliatelle instead of penne, mince instead of sausages, red onion instead of the spring. But I thought it tasted delicious! My Boyfriend made 3 batches of it in a week!

Ingredients -
1 red onion
1 carrot
1 stick of celery
1 fresh chilli 
Pack of mince (either pork or beef)
1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes (chop the tomatoes when in the pan)
Herbs - Oregano or mixed italian
Fresh pasta to serve - I like multigrain tag.

1. Blitz the onion, carrot, celery, chilli and garlic in a food processor until well mixed and then spoon into a hot frying pan with oil. Keep breaking it up and stirring it quickly.
Meanwhile, blitz the mince in the processor to make it finer. Then add this to the pan and stir.
2. Add balsamic and let it cook down and then add the tomatoes. Add some herbs.
3. Put the pasta on, if using fresh it should only take 4mins.
4. Add a little of the starchy pasta water to the sauce if needed to loosen.
5. Then drain the pasta and serve with the sauce and lots of cheese! Cheddar or parmesan work well, finally add some basil and black pepper.

Prawn Tomato and Spinach curry

Haven't blogged in a while but have done lots of cooking so time to catch up...
This curry is so quick, healthy and delicious! Good for a Friday or Saturday night. I like it with brown basmati rice with butternut squash (I think it's Tilda microwave pack from most supermarkets), but my boyfriend has his with plain white.
Ingredients -
- Makes 2 large bowlfuls
White onion, diced
Peas - cooked in the microwave
Spinach (a huge bag) - wilted down in the microwave
Tin of chopped tomatoes - one per 2 people
Tin of tomato purée - again one per 2 people
Patak's Masala Paste - a tablespoon
Rice to serve

Fry the onion and add the masala paste and puree, then add the prawns and coat them until just cooked through.

Add the chopped tomatoes and then add the spinach and peas, cook down for a good 5 minutes (while the rice is being microwaved)

Then serve with the rice.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Healthy Vegetable Dhansak Curry

I found this recipe in a magazine about a month ago but only got round to cooking it last night! I love healthy, low-fat dinners like these. If anyone's tried an Innocent Veg Pot then it's along those kind of lines. It counts as all 5 of your 5-a-day as not only do the vegetables count, but also the red lentils! It's really easy to make and is so healthy and delicious :) Also I was going to add some prawns to this but forgot to get them out the freezer, but to be honest you don't really need any fish or meat and the lentils have lots of protein anyway!

Makes 2 generous portions (You don't any need rice because of the filling lentils)
100g red lentils
Vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 green chillies finally chopped (I used 1 red chilli from my garden and kept the seeds in for extra zing!)
1 tsp peeled and grated root ginger (I forgot to buy this so used a spoonful of ground ginger)
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium sweet potato peeled and diced into 2cm cubes (I used squash but either works)
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
Large handful sultanas (Optional, I hate raisins in savoury so left them out)
1/4tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
500ml hot vegetable stock
1tbsp tomato purée
2 large tomatoes, cut into 8
100g green beans, halved
1tsp garam masala
Small bunch coriander, torn up

Method -
Soak the lentils in cold water for about 3mins then drain.
Heat the oil in a large pan. Fry the onion, garlic, chillies, ginger until the onion softens
Add the carrots, sweet potato/squash and pepper and fry for 5mins
Add the sultanas (if using), turmeric, cumin and coriander and cook for 1min
Stir in the lentils, stock, puree and tomatoes.

Cover with a lid and simmer for 15-20mins, stirring twice.
Add the beans and garam masala and then simmer uncovered for 10mins
Serve with the coriander.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The best ever risotto (If I do say so myself)...

This risotto used to be (and probably to an extent still is) my signature dish, it's complicated enough to seem like you've put some effort in yet simple enough to make and still taste delicious. It can be adapted to any season, the photo shows a summery version with peas and asparagus but I also use roasted squash in the autumn/winter. I've even made a bright pink beetroot version which was a bit strange albeit yummy!

There are 3 main rules to follow with this risotto - lots of stirring, lots of black pepper and lots of parmesan!

The basic recipe (before any adaptations) -

100g-150g risotto rice per person
Tiny piece of butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 White Onion, chopped
Closed cup mushrooms
1 and a half breasts of chicken per person
White Wine (about 1 glass full)
Chicken stock (probably made up with 1-1/2 litres of boiling water but check the packets instructions depending on how much rice you're using)
Black Pepper

Then you can add any or a mix of the following - 
Asparagus (Steam in the microwave with a tiny bit of water until just soft)
Roasted butternut squash, cubed into small pieces (   Roast the butternut squash – 200 degrees c, roasting tin, cube squash, sprinkle with garlic oil, roast until soft and starting to blacken)

Peas (Cook in the microwave)
Beetroot (Roast whole in the oven first and then remove the skin, grate into the risotto)
Pink beetroot risotto! Looks strange, tastes yummy!
More mushrooms/wild mushrooms
Or anything else you can think of!

Fry the butter, onions and chicken in a pan until chicken is almost cooked.
     Add mushrooms when chicken almost cooked
-       Add risotto rice to cook until translucent then add wine, stirring until absorbed
-       Add chicken stock a ladleful at a time, stirring all the time and only adding when all has been absorbed.
-       Add parmesan and black pepper in regular intervals
-       Then when all the stock is nearly absorbed, add the squash or asparagus/peas etc.
-       Add to risotto when stock is almost finished
     And then serve with lots of black pepper and parmesan!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Simple but delicious green tagliatelle with ham, peas, asparagus and red onion...

This pasta is so quick and easy but really delicious. I guess it's more of your student type food.
Basically -
Cut up some Wiltshire ham, asparagus and red onion and fry in a pan with fry-light spray for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile cook some fresh green tagliatelle (my favourite type of pasta) with some frozen peas for 4 minutes. Mix in with the mix in the pan and add a tiny bit of the pasta water to loosen...Et voila! Serve with some grated parmesan cheese.
-If you don't care about the fat content, some people might want to add some cream to this to make it like a carbonara. But I like to keep it healthy.

Chocolate and Pear Upside Pudding...

Had some friends and family over for lunch on Sunday so my grandma brought her incredible apple crumble (I'll post the recipe when I get a chance) and I made some chocolate meringues (See the recipe I posted for the chocolate pavlova and just use the mixture to make individual ones, cook for about 45mins and leave to cool in the oven, serve with ice cream and fruit) and one of my favourite ever desserts... Chocolate and Pear upside down cake/pudding. We were all stuffed for a long while afterwards!

The pudding: It's basically caramelised pears with a cake base on top and then you cook it in the oven and invert it onto a plate! It doesn't present that well but it's so scrummy....
From Market Kitchen 

For the pears:
35g butter
125g light brown sugar
4 ripe pears, peeled cored and thickly sliced lengthways
150g dark chocolate (either chips or a bar broken into chunks)
For the sponge:
40g cocoa powder
150g plain flour
1/2tsp bicarb of soda
1tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
125g light brown sugar
200ml buttermilk
75ml vegetable oil
Ice cream or cream to serve.

Pears - Melt the butter in a 20-25cm ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat. Stir in the sugar and heat for 2-3mins (stirring all the time) until the sugar's dissolved and it's a light golden-brown colour
Remove from the heat and scatter the pears over the caramel in a round circle, then dot the pieces of chocolate in. Set aside (You can make this a few hours in advance but don't put it in the fridge).
Sponge - Sift the cocoa, flour, bicarb and baking powder into a bowl. Then stir in the eggs, sugar, buttermilk and oil. - Don't overmix or the sponge may become heavy. (You can leave this mix in the fridge for a couple of hours)
Then when ready to cook, pour the cake mix over the pears making sure all is covered.
Bake for about 30minutes, at 200c/gas 6, but mine could have done with some extra cooking - it's hard to tell with a skewer because of the melted chocolate.
Leave to sit in the pan for about 2minutes and then quickly invert onto a plate so the pears are on top. - Put a plate over the whole pan and then swiftly flip over and hope that it all comes out well!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Sticky Toffee Cupcakes

I <3 cupcakes! 
They're so personal, versatile, delicious, pretty and the perfect size! I love finding excuses to make cupcakes and in August my boyfriend's birthday was the perfect occasion. I usually just do chocolate or vanilla with buttercream but he wanted some toffee/caramel kind of flavour so after lots of recipe searching I opted to go for sticky toffee cupcakes with a dulche de leche buttercream.

It's so hard to find recipes that are suitable for the UK, all the best recipes seem to be American with ingredients like 'butterscotch chips' which you can't really find in Sainsburys or Waitrose. Or the recipes need homemade caramel which I didn't really fancy making with all the hassle of a sugar thermometer and risk of getting scalded etc. So in the end I came up with a recipe that I could find ingredients for, including dulche de leche from waitrose and added it to normal buttercream (although it was a tiny bit too sweet) and made a traditional sticky toffee sponge with dates. As much as I love conventional cupcakes from chocolate or vanilla, these were definitely something special and I'd recommend making them. They also kept really well and were still delicious a good few days later!

The toffee cupcakes are the caramel looking ones. I also made some chocolate ones too.
Recipe - Adapted from Fiona Carins on the Good Food channel.
For the sponge -
180g dates, pitted and chopped
1tsp vanilla extract
180g self-raising flour
1tsp bicarb of soda
80g unsalted butter
150g muscovado sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
For the buttercream-
A good couple of tablespoons of dulche de leche (You can get the post version in the nice glass jar like I did, or just get the carnation tins - they taste almost exactly the same!)
- sorry not sure on quantities for these, just use a good buttercream recipe, I think I used the hummingbird bakery but took a good part of the sugar out as the dulche de leche is soo sweet and the icing can be too sickly otherwise!

1. Preheat oven to 180c
2. Place paper cases into 12 hole cupcake tin
3.In a bowl, pour 180ml boiling water over the dates and leave to soak for 20minutes. With a fork, break up the dates and stir in the vanilla.
4. Sift the flour and bicarb of soda into another bowl and set aside.
5. Then cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 5mins). Add the eggs gradually, beating well between each addition and slipping in 1tbsp flour halfway to prevent curdling. 
6. Then fold in the remaining flour and date mixture.
7. Spoon into cupcake cases and bake for 15-20mins. (Until the tops spring back, you know the drill with cakes)
For the toffee buttercream - 
Make a traditional buttercream (for 12 cakes), but leave out some of the sugar like I said earlier, then beat in a couple of tablespoons of the dulche de leche. Add more to taste if you need to, the colour should be a lovely light brown caramel. 
Pipe/Ice over the cakes and decorate!
Waiting to be displayed and eaten!

Raspberry Soufflés with Chocolate Sauce

I made these back in February for a dinner party but obviously I didn't have a blog back then! It was the first time I'd made soufflés and was very nervous that they wouldn't turn out properly but I had some first-time luck and they rose beautifully and tasted scrumptious! The soufflés are so light but the rich chocolate sauce makes them more indulgent. 
I guarantee than almost anybody can make these and if you do everything correctly, have them rise!

Serves 2 (I tripled it to get 6) - Adapted from the bbc food website 'fool proof hot raspberry soufflés' by Paul Heathcote on Saturday Kitchen.
Ingredients - 
250g raspberries (In February when they weren't in season I used frozen raspberries and just left them on a plate to defrost for a while - otherwise 750g of fresh raspberries would have cost a fortune and this way you get extra sauce too)
4 eggs, whites only
100g caster sugar
Juice of a half of a lemon
1/2 tsp cornflour, dissolved in a few spoonfuls of water

1. Evenly butter and sugar ramekin moulds and put them in the freezer. - This step is really important and put it right around the edges and rim.
2. For the coulis - add half of the sugar to the raspberries, place in a hot pan and cook quickly for 2-3mins with some of the lemon juice.
3. Liquidise with a hand blender and sieve to remove the crunchy seeds.
- You can make all of this in advance.
4. When ready to cook. Place 2tsp of coulis in the bottom of the soufflé dishes and thicken the remaining coulis with the cornflour in water.
5. For the souffle mix, scald a bowl and whisk in boiling water to get rid of any grease. Then place the egg whites in a bowl and whisk.
6. Gradually add sugar until a smooth, soft peak comes. Add some more lemon juice.
7. Take a third of the mix and whisk into the thickened coulis, before gradually folding remaing two thirds. Try not to knock too much air out of the mix.
8. Divide between the ramekin moulds and smooth the surface with a palette knife. 
9. A secret tip to get them to rise straight up is to trim round the edges with your thumb.
10. When ready to cook, space in a tray and bake in 180c oven for about 13 minutes.
11. While it's cooking, melt your favourite cooking chocolate in the microwave and mix with some cream to make a thick sauce.
- My oven doesn't have a window in it so it's really hard to know when to open! But I'd say go over than under and about 12-13 minutes is perfect.
Then serve straight away (while trying to take a photo before they sink) with a dusting of icing sugar and pour the hot chocolate sauce into them.

Mmn thinking about these is making me want to cook them again!

Nigella's Chocolate and Raspberry Pavlova

The problem with starting a new blog is that I've got so many recipes & things I've cooked to suddenly add all at once. I want to blog them all right away so I'll have to go back to all the yummy things I've made this year.

This pavolva is one I made in the summer (seems so long gone now) and it's absolutely delicious and easy to make! It's from Nigella Summer and I remember watching her make it on tv once but found the recipe online.

It helps if you have a food mixer but you can do it by hand just as easily. (I'm lucky in that my boyfriend got a Kenwood k-mix food mixer for his birthday so I steal it all the time!)

I think this pavlova is so much more delicious than traditional 'white' pavlova, probably because I'm such a chocoholic! But raspberries and chocolate together are my favourite combination!

But anyway, here's the recipe -
For the Chocolate meringue base -
6 egg whites
300g caster sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder, sieved
1 tsp balsamic or red wine vinegar (I used red wine to make it a bit sweeter)
50g dark chocolate, finely chopped (but leave some in chunks to melt)
For the topping -
500 ml double cream
500g raspberries
More dark chocolate to grate over the top

1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees (Nigella says 180 but I found this too hot in a fan oven)
2.Line a tray with baking parchment (stick the corners down with some of the meringue mixture when made)
3.Beat the egg whites in a clean, grease-free bowl until satiny peaks form, then add the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
4. Sprinkle over the cocoa, vinegar and chopped chocolate and gently fold in until all incorporated.
5.Mound on to a baking sheet in a fat circle (approx 23cm in diameter) and smooth sides and top.
6.Place in the oven and cook for about 45minutes. I'm not great on timings but I just quickly check to see if it's done. It probably needs a bit longer than this actually, maybe an hour to completely cook, but my oven started to burn the top so I had to turn it down a bit more. - Nigella says 'when it's ready it should look crisp around the edges and sides but dry on top, when prodded you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers'.
7. Open the oven door and leave to cool completely in the oven.
For the topping -
1. When ready to serve, invert on to a flat-bottomed plate. 
2. Whisk the cream until thick but soft and pile on top of the meringue and scatter over the raspberries. Then grate the chocolate over and serve!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Delicious Salmon... Jamie Oliver style!

Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the delicious dinner! So mine looked basically the same as this picture from the 'besuperlicious blog'.

On Saturday night I recreated a Jamie recipe that I first had in Scotland, when staying with my boyfriend's aunt and uncle for a weekend. 

I'm not sure which book of his it is from but it's not on his website either. Anyway, it's the easiest, most delicious way to eat salmon! 

The recipe (for 4) - 

4 x salmon fillets (I used Sainsburys Taste the Difference)
800g green beans
400g cherry tomatoes
A good few handfuls of chopped, stoned black olives
A tin of anchovies (and their oil) 
A handful of basil
Lots of lemon juice

Turn your oven to the hottest heat it will go and leave it to heat up
Meanwhile, blanch the green beans for about 6 minutes until they've just lost their crunch
Mix the beans, tomatoes, basil and olives in a bowl and squeeze some lemon juice and black pepper
Then put the salmon in a roasting tin on one side and squeeze lots of lemon and black pepper on both sides
Then add the tomato/bean mix around it (don't actually cover the salmon though) and then tear up the anchovies into small pieces over the beans and mix in.
Finally pour most of the oil from the anchovies over the whole thing, add a bit more lemon and black pepper and cook! 
It takes only about 10minutes in the hot oven so check the salmon is cooked, and it will be ready!

I served mine with new potatoes but pasta, rice or couscous would all be perfect with it!

- N.B my mum hates anchovies so you can leave them off certain sections if you don't want them but they really do add such a delicious flavour!

Eve's Pudding


My very first blog post! 

I've been wanting to do this for ages but am annoyingly busy writing a dissertation, revising for an LNAT test and walking my new puppy this weekend!

But I did manage to find the time to bake a pudding using the apples from my Boyfriend's garden and neighbours trees. Also I needed to use up some of our eggs, (we have 4 chickens so the eggs build up pretty quickly) so on a warm autumnal day, what better than to make Eve's pudding. It seems so much lighter than a crumble, perfect for after a big dinner!

I looked for some recipes and in the end adapted a Waitrose and as a first attempt, it came out pretty well. This pudding needs a lot of custard though or the sponge can be a bit bland.

Serves 4 but I used way more than 2 apples! -

2 Bramley apples (about 500g in total)
1 tbsp lemon juice

A spoonful of cinnamon 
2 tbsp water
90g soft butter
100g caster sugar, plus 2 tbsp
100g self-raising flour
2 eggs

Custard to serve.

Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4.

Peel, core and chop the apples into a pan with the lemon juice and water. Stir, cover and cook briskly for 5 or 6 minutes until the apples are soft enough to almost purée when stirred. (I added a spoonfuls of cinnamon)

Add 15g butter and 2 tbsp caster sugar and stir to slacken. Transfer to a 900ml-capacity, ceramic gratin dish, about 5cm deep. Leave to cool while you prepare the topping. - I did this and left it for a couple of hours at room temp.

Cream 75g butter with 100g caster sugar until fluffy and light. Sift the flour into a bowl and whisk the eggs in a second bowl. Fold the flour and egg in alternate spoonfuls into the sugar mixture until blended. Spoon the mixture over the apples when ready to put in the oven.

The recipe said to bake for 30minutes but my sponge took about 45 minutes to cook so keep checking it while it's cooking.

And as I said, serve with lashings of custard!