Friday, December 31, 2010

Feature: Linda McCartney Foods 4

Another week, another one of my recipes chosen by the lovely people from Linda McCartney Foods! This week there have been two selected- My Caramelised Shallot Tart, and Mixed Vegetable Balti (both recipes on this site) Making it the fifth and sixth recipes they have chosen from me. Strange thing- the picture they have used as my Mixed vegetable balti dish is not with the picture I provided them with. I thought how very strange! I emailed them just checking they havent ended up putting someone elses photo on my recipe (that might ruffle a few feathers!) but havent got a reply. I dunno, maybe they made the recipe themselves and used their own pic? Ah well!

Unfortunately my Tomato and white bean casserole went to number 2 on the weekly favourites, beaten by a (to be fair) very nice looking vegan stew. But i'm a very competitive girl and i'm determined to win this week!

So, this week these two recipes are up the win "The UK's tastiest meat free dish!" , and i'd love it if you would follow the link and vote for them! You just have to press the "rate this dish" button at the top right of the screen. Thanks for all your help guys, Mel wants to win!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Recipe: Nigel Slater's Chocolate Cookies

I promised my mum I would make this on Christmas day- we saw it on Nigel Slater's "Simple Suppers" program and we were both drooling- they look so GORGE. Here is a link to the original recipe (I tweaked it slightly to my taste/ to make easier):

They turned out a little flatter looking than Nigel's- but they were still scrumptious. Nice and chewy cookies- which are the type my mum likes.

Nigel Slater’s Chocolate Cookies (makes 12 massive cookies)

100g milk chocolate, broken up into little pieces
100g good quality dark chocolate, broken up into little pieces
75g butter
200 light muscovado sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 medium eggs
50g skinned hazelnuts, toasted
150g self raising flour

1. Heat the oven to 180C. In a bowl, under a pan of water, slowly melt the pieces of chocolate.
2. Meanwhile, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
3. Chop up the toasted hazelnuts roughly and add to the mix. Pour in the melted chocolate and stir in until well mixed. Finally add the flour and mix until a thick paste.
4. Onto a greaseproof paper lined baking tray, add 6 rounded tbsp of the mix and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. After the first batch has cooled, bake the other six.
5. Serve, either with a glass of hot milk in the winter or some cherries and whipped cream in the summer.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Recipe: Leek, Bacon and Cheddar Tart

Leek and bacon, what a classic combination! I used up the last of my home grown leeks- they looked so sad out there in the snowy garden. I had to wait for the garden to "thaw out" a bit before I could even get them out of the ground anyway! A nice strong tasting tart, it goes perfectly with a fresh green salad, in a simple lemon juice and olive oil dressing.

Leek, Bacon and Cheese Tart (serves 2) £1.62 per pie, 1.81 with salad

2 tbsp butter
1 tsp herbs du Provence
3 leeks, diced
4 rashers smoked bacon
2 tbsp cream cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry
20g finely grated cheddar
Splash of milk for brushing

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Cook the Leeks, in the butter and herbs on a medium heat, covered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, grill the rashers of bacon until well done and crispy. Cool and dice finely, and mix into the leek mixture with the Philadelphia. Season to taste.
3. With a 5 inch round cutter, cut out two circles out of the sheet of ready rolled pastry. Place the circles onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper
4. With a knife, make a small border round the edge of each circle. In the middle of these circles, prick with a fork to prevent from rising.
5. Spoon the leek and bacon mixture evenly into the middle of each circle and top with the grated cheddar. Brush the edges of the pastry with  milk, and place the tarts in the oven for 25 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven and serve.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Feature: Linda McCartney Foods 3

Another week, another one of my recipes chosen by the lovely people from Linda McCartney Foods! I have already had 3 selected, this is the fourth. I was number one the past two weeks, lets try and make it a third! I think all of this is a very good sign that i will at least be one of the three finalists. I also got an email from their PR company asking whether they can publish my recipes in various forms of media. This is all so very exciting!

So, this week it is my Tomato and White Bean Casserole recipe up the win "The UK's tastiest meat free dish!" , and i'd love it if you would follow the link and vote for it! You just have to press the "rate this dish" button at the top right of the screen. Thanks for all your help guys, Mel wants to win!!!

Recipe: Chilli Chicken Chow Mein

Nom nom nom. I think I could survive solely on chicken and noodles. Oh and Diet coke. That's it. I could actually spend years and years JUST eating/drinking that. This is a nice tasty, spicy and healthy meal, that can be made in less than half an hour. What more do you want? Ah yes, a nice cold asahi beer and some extra soy sauce on the side. Heaven!

You can get all these ingredients at Sainsburys, except maybe the panang curry paste, which I get from my local asian shop. If you cant find it just use a tsp of any other asian curry paste, like green thai or massaman.

Chilli Chicken Chow Mein (serves 2) £1.56 per portion

2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
1 tbsp “Blue Dragon” Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce
1 tsp “Mae Ploy” Panang Curry Paste
Juice of half a lime
1 tsp white miso paste
½ tsp toasted sesame oil

2 nests Sharwood medium egg noodles
2 tbsp rapeseed or vegetable oil (plus extra to stop the noodles sticking)
25g sliced white onion
1 breast cooked chicken, chopped into small chunks
1 egg, whisked
50g julienned carrots
50g frozen peas
50g bean sprouts
Fresh coriander and a sprinkling of soy sauce to serve

1. Boil a pan of water. Cook the noodles a minute less than what the packet instructions tell you- about 3 minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water, and mix in a little bit of oil (this helps to stop the noodles from sticking together).
2. Mix together all the sauce ingredients, set aside, and make sure you have all the other ingredients prepared and ready to hand.
3. Heat a wok with the oil on a high heat. Add the onion and chicken and stir fry for about 3 minutes. Add the egg and cook for 2 minutes (thereby ‘scrambling’ it in the wok).
4. Add the carrots, peas, bean sprouts, and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add noodles and sauce, and stir fry for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently to mix the ingredients well together.
5. Sprinkle the dish with fresh coriander and a little soy sauce, and serve!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Recipe: Gouda Hotpot

This is one of my mum's recipes. A firm family favourite, I have been eating it since I was very little. Essentially it's only a mixture of vegetables in a cheese sauce, but it just works as a nice combination. So heres this nice, simple, child friendly recipe.

Gouda Hotpot (serves 3) £1.08 per portion, £1.22 with bread and butter

500g small new potatoes, halved
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
225g frozen peas
60g butter
60g flour
550ml milk
225g Gouda, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
(Optional Garnish) 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley

1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the potatoes, and cook for 25 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the carrots. After a further 10 minutes, add the peas. Drain and set aside.
2. Melt the butter, add the flour, and gradually stir in the milk (as you would normally make a béchamel). Stir in the grated gouda until melted. Season to taste, and stir in the vegetables until fully coated.
3. Pour mixture into a baking dish, and put under a hot grill for a few minutes until bubbling and golden. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Recipe: Split Pea and Ham Soup

A complete classic of course, but this is the first time i've ever tried this, and the first time i've ever cooked split peas before! They are rather scrumptious, i wasn't sure whether to soak them or not, but basically i figured they are like fat lentils- no soaking required, just need to cook them a bit longer than normal lentils. This is actually a little taster from my roman cookery book, you'd be surprised that what seems to be such a classic, kind of "british" dish, actually has origins in ancient roman cuisine. I've suggested to use vegetable stock, because that means it is still suitable for vegetarians. Then for all the meat-eaters, you just garnish it with the ham and stir it in. There, everybodys happy.

Split Pea and Ham Soup (makes 6 bowls) 79p per bowl, 93p with bread and butter.

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, diced
1 large or 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 celery stick, diced
½ tsp celery salt
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
300g split peas
2.5 litres vegetable stock (or pork stock if not serving veggies)
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
240g diced ham to garnish

1. Sautee the onions, carrot, celery and celery salt in the olive oil, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add all other ingredients except the ham, and cook on a medium heat, covered, for 1 hour 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove the bay leaves, and blend until fairly smooth (you will probably have to do this in batches). Heat the blended mixture until piping hot, season to taste, and serve, garnished with the diced ham.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Feature: Linda McCartney Foods 2

Hey everyone. Another one of my dishes has been chosen as a "weekly favourite" in the Linda McCartney Food Competition! My "Onion, Goats Cheese and Red Pepper Tart" (recipe on the site) has been chosen, and i'd love it if you could check the site out and show your support again (:

All of this is a good sign, because at the end of January/ beginning of February they choose 3 finalists (based on the weekly favourites). Those finalists win a new Baumatic cooker, and then the public vote for the winner (who wins the expensive dining table and the linda McCartney ready meal 'with your name on it'). I figure if i get a few recipes in on these weekly favourites, i got a fairly good chance of at least being one of the three finalists.

If you want to vote for my recipe, you just click on the "Rate This Dish" button at the top of the recipe, thank'yall! Mel Wants To Win!!

Heres the link:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Recipe: Chicken and Black Bean Stew

The first time I cooked this me and my boyfriend went back for thirds, it is so damn tasty! You can see how much I like it by the size of the portion i've given myself! Jeez, sometimes I really don't realise how much i'm eating! This time I served it with some steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and some roasted new potatoes. The potatoes were lush! I just roasted allready cooked new potatoes with some butter, olive oil, paprika, ground coriander, sugar and plenty salt and pepper. They were lush!

Chicken and black bean stew (serves 4) £1.65 per person, with 160g cooked new potatoes and 80g cooked broccoli per person on the side.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
2 chicken breasts, chopped into large chunks
1 clove garlic
1 celery stick, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
120ml red wine
500ml stock (1 chicken Oxo, 1 veg Oxo)
2 bay leaves
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp mint
½ tsp thyme
1 tsp corn flour, mixed with a little water
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin black beans, drained
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

1. Sautee onion and garlic in the oil for 5 minutes. Add chicken and cook for another 5 minutes
2. Add all other ingredients except the fresh herbs and flour, cook for 25 minutes.
3. Add the flour and cook for a further 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the last 10 minutes increase heat and add the fresh herbs. Serve!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Recipe: Cider and Mustard Chicken

Often when I mention in conversation to people that I am a chef, a question that pops up quite regularly is "what would you call your signiture dish?". I think this is as close as it comes. At least I could say its West Country like I am- Plenty of cider! Of course, i would tart it up a bit if doing it in a restaurant/dinner party. I'd roast 2 chicken supremes (Boned chicken breasts with the skin still on) and pour the cider sauce over it (nicer presentation-wise). But this is of course an easier quicker way of doing it. This time I served it with couscous, because I didn't have too much time on my hands, but I think it goes best with a load of creamy mash and buttered savoy cabbage!

Cider and Mustard Chicken (serves 2) £1.84 per person (with 100g dried couscous per person)

2 tbsp olive oil
2 red onion sliced
1 garlic clove
2 large Chicken breasts cubed
1 tbsp flour
300ml cider
1 rounded tbsp wholegrain mustard
Salt, sugar and pepper to taste

1. Heat up the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Cook onions, garlic and chicken for 15 minutes.
2. Stir in flour, add cider, and cook for two minutes.
3. Add mustard, cook for 10 minutes. Season to taste and serve.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Recipe: Chicken, Cardamom and Dill Pilaf

I know there is a sliiightly naughty amount of butter in this recipe, but thats what makes it good. The rice soaks it all up and makes the dish taste rich without being overly creamy. The toasted almonds on top adds a nice crunch to the dish, as well as a nice toasty flavour. Still, this amount of butter doesn't even come close to any of the Hairy Biker recipes. Or James Martin's. What is it about Northeners and butter??? It's not an insult (I love the stuff) but they seem to be obsessed with it!!

Chicken, Dill and Cardamom Pilaf (serves 2 generously)

100g butter
1 white onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 carrot, peeled and finely diced
250g leftover chicken, diced into small chunks
180g basmati rice
500ml chicken stock
8 cardamom pods, seeds crushed in a mortar and pestle
15g finely chopped fresh dill
40g flaked almonds, toasted
Salt and black pepper to taste

1. On a medium heat, fry onions, carrots and garlic in the butter, covered for 5 minutes. Remove lid, add rice, and fry for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
2. Add the stock, chicken and cardamom, and cook for 6 minutes covered, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove lid, increase the heat, and add dill cook for 3 more minutes- or until the rice is fully cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated.
4. Season to taste, and serve sprinkled with the toasted flaked almonds on top.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Feature: Linda McCartney Foods

Hey guys. So theres this competition going on from "Linda McCartney Foods" that i entered. Basically you send in some of your veggie recipes, every week they choose their 10 favourites, and then people can vote for one of those ten. My "Root Vegetable and Lentil Casserole" (recipe on the site) has been chosen as one of them for this week, so i'd love it if you could check the site out and show your support!

If i win, i win a really expensive kitchen table, and a new cooker, AND my recipe will become part of Linda McCartney's frozen food ready-meal range. Which, lets face it, will look darn good on my CV after my Diet and Health degree.

If you want to vote for my recipe, you just click on the "Rate This Dish" button at the top of the recipe, thank'yall!

Heres the link:
Linda McCartney Foods – Meat Free Food - Root Vegetable and Lentil Casserole

Recipe: Chilli Egg Fried Rice

This is GORGEAUS. I am such a chinese food addict. I admit, a lot of the time i'm just lazy and i just get a takeaway. But every so often i have a go at making my own chinese/japanese/thai food. Although I hate admitting I got ANYTHING good from working at Wagamamas, but i did get the hang of cooking asian food, how quick it all has to be, and learnt about a fair few foreign ingredients. This is egg fried rice thats been jazzed up! Very comforting.

Chilli Egg Fried Rice (serves 2) 91p per serving

2 tbsp rapeseed or vegetable oil
150g white basmati rice, or 300g leftover cooked rice
2 eggs, beaten
60g diced  ham/ leftover gammon
100g frozen peas
1 red chilli, seeded and diced very finely
Handful coriander, finely chopped (plus extra for garnish)
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1. If not using leftover rice, first of all cook the rice according to packet instructions and set aside. Mix the soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar and sesame oil, and set aside.
2. Put the oil in a wok and bring to a high heat. Pour in the beaten egg and stir frequently, breaking it up as the egg cooks. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the pieces of egg are beginning to go golden.
3. Add the cooked rice, ham, frozen peas, chilli and coriander and stir fry for 2 more minutes. Add the soy sauce mixture, and stir fry for 1 more minute. Serve with some extra chopped coriander.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Recipe: Apple, Onion and Sultana Chutney

Well! One post for November! Kinda pathetic i suppose but it does show how busy I have been lately. Cutting down film coursework, finishing english language coursework, and also working on recipes for a Roman Cookery book that i hope one day to publish. It all seems promising so far. Had a little more time at home now because of all this snow and ice! It's been insane, like it has physically hurt my face to go outside in this weather, i sware. Anyway, this is a really gorgeaus chutney, a welcomed accompaniment to the end of meal cheeseboard, and perfect in a ploughmans!

Apple, Onion and Sultana Chutney. Makes 12 small jars, 51p per jar!

1050g 1.5cm diced cooking or eating apples (the peeled cored weight)
450g light muscovado sugar
340g sultanas
2 medium sized white onions, sliced
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp celery salt
1 tsp salt
350ml cider vinegar

1. Put all ingredients into a large saucepan and put on a high heat. Once starting to bubble, reduce the heat slightly, and cook covered for 15 minutes.
2. Remove the lid and cook the mixture on a medium high heat for 30 more minutes. Stir occasionally- but not vigorously, so as not to completely break up the pieces of apple.
3. Pour into jars, allow to cool, and seal. Makes about 1600g. Lasts about a month.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Recipe: Tasty Passata

Hello everyone. I haven't posted in ages, I know, but November has been (and I expect will continue to be) a very busy month for me. I have had a couple of important coursework deadlines, and I had my 20th birthday yesterday! No longer a teenager, yaay! Had a wonderful party, at one of my local pubs, the Ring'O'Bells. About 20-30 of my mates, plenty of drinks- oh and a really nice buffet from the RingO's kitchen. Fab stuff- first of all some hot mushroom spinach and mozzarella wraps, cold cut wiltshire ham, sticky barbequed chicken thighs and legs, tomato salad, cous cous salad, olives and pesto, and plenty of homemade bread. For puds some brownies and gert big cheeseboards. My boyfriend Nick made me the most beautiful cake:

I got some awesome foodie presents as well. Got Nigella's new cookbook from my brother, a funny recipe book called the "Hungoevr" cookbook (full of things like fishfinger + chutney sandwiches and bloody mary's) a really massive cool looking Authentic Indian Cookery book, and a grow your own chilli kit.

So yeah, shall be getting myself busy with those for a while. This recipe here is a base 'passata' kinda thing that i use as a base for a fair few of my recipes. It's sometimes nice to use it instead of a tin of tomatoes, as it's packed full of flavour. Fantastic as a base tomato sauce for pasta, in beef mince dishes, and vegetable soups. I use it most often in my Beef and Aduki bean stew.

Tasty Passata (makes 1 litre) Serves 3 as a soup, 4 as a base sauce- 65p per person as soup with bread and butter, or 36p per portion as a base sauce.

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 white onion, diced
1 large celery stick, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 fresh or 2 dried bay leaves
2 tsp sugar
600ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Sautee onions, celery and carrot in 2 tbsp of the olive oil, covered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
2. Add all other ingredients and cook covered on a medium for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove bayleaf/leaves and pour into a blender/food processor. Blend until smooth, season to taste, and it is now ready! It will last 3 days if put into a sealed jar in the fridge.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Recipe: Beef and Aduki Bean Stew

This is SUCH a moreish delicious beef dish. Absolutely gorgeaus! Also I love any dishes that involve using red or white wine, because in my world that means one glass for the dish and two for the cook! As you can see I served this with some buttered wholemeal bread, but it goes equally well with creamy mash and steamed green veg.

Beef and Aduki Bean Stew (serves 4) £1.79 per portion, £1.97 with brown bread and butter

2 tbsp olive oil
8 shallots, peeled and sliced
1 clove garlic
400g lean diced casserole steak
1 celery stick, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
120ml red wine
500ml stock (1 beef Oxo, 1 veg Oxo)
1 fresh or 2 dried bay leaves
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp mint
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin Aduki beans, drained and washed
1 tsp corn flour, mixed with a little water
3 tbsp chopped mixed fresh coriander and parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Sautee shallots and garlic in the oil for 5 minutes. Add beef and cook until browned, about 5-7 minutes, with some salt and pepper.
2. Add all other ingredients except the corn flour and fresh herbs, and cook on a medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the corn flour mixture, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often. Add the fresh herbs and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring often. Season to taste and serve.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Recipe: Apple Flapjack

A very simple recipe, but a yummy one nonetheless. There is certainly one thing I have to say about flapjack though- YOU MUST USE BUTTER! Without butter it won't be nearly as good, honestly. In this recipe i have used apples from my friend Ralph's garden, cheers!

I baked them for something called a "naturalisation". I had actually no idea what it was but i realised eventually that it meant my friend from Oklahoma was doing the ceremony that finalises him being 'A British Citizen'. Like, he's allready done the test, it was the final ceremony where you signed a bunch of papers and sang the national anthem and things. I think it's hilarious that people who have done the citizenship test probably know more about Britain, than the people born and raised here! I mean, I don't know the national anthem, do you?

Anyway, so i thought i'd make some "Union Jack Flapjacks" and a big heart shaped flapjack. Corny looking, corny sounding, but it's good fun, and it was for good friends and everyone really enjoyed them! Absolutely delicious.

Apple Flapjacks (makes 18 servings) 16p per serving!

250 g butter
250 g caster sugar
175 g golden syrup
450 g oats
½ tsp ground ginger
225g peeled diced apple

1. Line two heart shaped tins with greaseproof paper and preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
2. Combine butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan, stirring to melt for about 10 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved.
3. Remove from heat and add the apples and ginger and oats.
4. Transfer mixture into the tins and spread out evenly. Bake for 30 minutes.
5. Allow to cool. Remove the flapjacks from the tins. Keep whole, or cut each heart into 10 slices.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Recipe: Chicken with Sesame Rice and Broccoli

Did I tell you guys yet? I've got a new job! It's a few steps from where I stay at my boyfriend's house, so its very convenient as far as location is concerned. I had to leave River Cottage because my hours had been reduced and i kinda needed more. I'm going to really miss the place though. It's definitely the first place i have left that i am really going to miss full heartedly- the place, the people, the food. Awww....yeah. Still, my new job is GREAT. I am basically a weekend 'Sous Chef'. I'm essentially in charge! I put things I WANT and I CREATE onto a menu, and i do food orders as well. Its very nice to have a bit of power and to have so much more creativity. Thats what I wanted when i became a chef originally- cook nice food for people, that i've created, that i've put my thought and inovation into. I didnt come into the trade to cook the same thing day in day out in a chain restaurant, or to peel potatoes all day. I wanted to be a chef to CREATE.

Anyway, this is a yummy dish and very healthy. It is also very nice using brown rice instead, it's just often i don't have enough time to cook it. I get the miso paste, rice vinegar, mirin and toasted sesame oil all from my local Sainsburys- you don't have to go to a specialist asian market or anything to get them.

Chicken with Broccoli,Rice and a Miso and sesame sauce (serves 2) £1.71 per person

2 skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
Drizzle vegetable oil
Sprinkling of Chinese 5 spice

120g basmati rice
120g broccoli florets
2 spring onions, chopped finely
Small handful coriander, stems and leaves chopped

2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
2 tsp Miso paste
1 tbsp brown rice vinegar
1 tbsp mirin
1 tsp crushed ginger
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce

1. Heat the oven to 200C. Put chicken breasts on a non-stick baking tray, drizzle with a little oil, and sprinkle over some salt, pepper and Chinese 5 spice. Put tray into the oven and the chicken should be cooked in 25-30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile cook the rice according to the packet instructions in salted water. Four minutes before the end of cooking, add the broccoli to the pan. Mix the sauce ingredients together
3. Drain and return to the pan with the spring onions, coriander and the miso sauce. Cook for three minutes or until everything is well combined and hot. Serve!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Recipe:Peach Apple Crumble with Toasted Almonds

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Its because of all the Film Studies work I have got going on. It's ridiculous, i have never done a course where a huge percentage of the coursework is wanted BEFORE the end of the first half term. Mental. I really should have chosen to study something easier than Film Noir. Yeah, great idea Mel, choose to study a genre that is ridiculously hard to classify and has hundred of complicated films to choose from. Blegh. I love them though. I got these apples from my friend Ralph's garden, this is a really nice and interesting crumble recipe- usually i don't try anything other than the normal apple or apple and blackberry but this is luuush

Peach and apple crumble, with sugared toasted almonds (serves 6) 75p per person with custard!

600g apples, cooked or eating, peeled and diced
1 x 400g tin peach sliced in fruit juice, drained (240g drained weight) and diced
25g sugar
Juice of half a lemon
110g soft butter
220g plain flour
170g golden caster sugar
50g flaked almonds
Dusting of icing sugar

1. Heat oven to 180C. Pour the diced apple and peach into a large ovenproof dish, sprinkle over lemon juice and sugar.
2. Mix together the butter, flour and sugar with the tips of your fingers- until a fine sandy consistency. Pour the crumble mixture over the fruit, and put into the oven for 50 minutes until the crumble has begun to brown.
3. Meanwhile, toast the almonds in a dry pan until beginning to brown. Whilst still hot, toll in a little dusted icing sugar.
4. Take the crumble out of the oven, sprinkle over the sugared toasted almonds, and serve with custard, cream or ice cream.

Recipe: Crabapple Jelly

Theres this big crabapple tree outside my house. I've been there over a year but this is the first time i've used the crabapples, mainly because now I know thats what they are! I had no idea really, and I didn't like the idea of picking random bright coloured fruit and cooking with them! But yeah, they are a variety called "Golden Hornet" and they are damn tasty (with a large amount of sugar added of course). First time i've had a go at making jellies as well but they are scrumptious. Im not sure how long they last yet, but i'm sure in sealed preserving jars that they would last at least a month.

Now that i have LOADS of pots of crabapple jellies in different flavours, I am thinking of trying to make a chutney with the rest of the crabapples and some of the sloe berries growing around here- a neat looking recipe from one of my old preserving books. These jellies are great spread on toast, and a good accompaniment to meat- particularly pork.

Crab-apple Jelly- Makes about 600ml-ish (varies batch to batch!)

750g crab apples
1250ml water
450g sugar to 500ml of drained crabapple liquid (90%)
1 tsp lemon juice, lime juice, or white wine vinegar
(If making a slightly savoury jelly) ½ tsp salt

1. In a large saucepan add the crab-apples and water. Bring to the boil and then simmer, lid on, for about 45 minutes.
2. Strain through a jelly bag/muslin for 2 1/2 hours.
3. Put the crabapple liquid and appropriate sugar into a saucepan with lemon juice. Bring to a rolling boil, skimming any scum that forms at the surface. Stir constantly for about 15 minutes.
4. Pour into jars and wait to cool and set. Seal with a lid.

Chilli-16 dried little chillies at stage 1, 2 tsp of crushed chilli flakes at stage 3
Rosemary- 12g rosemary stalks at stage 1, 2 tsp dried rosemary at stage 3, then spoon away most of the stalky bits once you pour it into the jars (they should rise to the top).
Very Sweet- Use 100% ratio sugar with crabapple liquid instead of 90%

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Recipe: Herby Chicken and Cherry Tomato Penne

To be fair, as you can see from the picture, I have used farfalle this time rather than penne. I also used my fresh home grown tomatoes in this, rather than cherry tomatoes. That's whats nice about this recipe- it can be very easily adapted. I mean, I guess this is how I came up with this- just used what I found in the cupboards at the time, but it is rather scrumptious and very healthy too.

Herby Penne with roast chicken and cherry tomatoes (serves 2-3)

2 chicken legs, skin on
Dried thyme
Olive oil (to drizzle)
Salt and pepper
150g penne
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
14 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 clove garlic, crushed
Pinch of sugar
2 tbsp chopped dill
3 tbsp chopped basil
Zest of one lemon, and a squeeze of juice
Salt and lots of black pepper to taste
Grated parmesan to serve

1. Preheat oven to 200C. On a baking tray, place the two legs of chicken, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle some thyme and a little seasoning over. Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
2. Remove the chicken from the oven and leave to cool. Once cool, remove the skin and get the meat off from the bones. Set aside.
3. Boil the penne according to the packet instructions (cook until al dente).
4. Meanwhile sauté the cherry tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper in the extra virgin olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the reserved chicken leg meat, and cook for 3 more minutes.
5. Drain the pasta and add to the tomatoes and chicken. Add the dill, basil and lemon, and cook for a couple more minutes or until all the ingredients are combined and hot.
6. Season to taste and garnish with freshly grated parmesan.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Recipe: Lentil,Tomato and Artichoke Salad

This recipe is so quick and easy and with such a delicious outcome. I've only recently discovered the loveliness that is pre-cooked tinned lentils. No fussy soaking or boiling, and still great flavour. The only thing that takes time with this recipe is picking the parsley- but stick with it, it's so darn delicious. I tend to have it on the side of roast chicken or a baked sweet potato. The salsa verde mix is also really nice stirred into cooked buttered new potatoes. This makes a fair amount- but it's fantastic for lunch the next day. I packed some with kos lettuce, and some chilli and cumin marinated olives as a nice office packed lunch for my boyfriend. Nice and healthy.

Lentil, Tomato and artichoke salad with salsa verde dressing (serves 5 as a side dish) 99p per portion

2 tins green or puoy lentils, drained and washed
200g char grilled artichokes in oil, drained and chopped
150g halved cherry tomatoes, or larger tomatoes sliced into wedges
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
40g fresh parsley (30g parsley leaves, 10g stems)
Lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

1. Put the lentils, artichokes and cherry tomatoes in a bowl.
2. Place all the other ingredients into a food processor (or blender) and blend until smooth.
3. Add the ingredients from the food processor to the lentils, and mix well. Season with plenty of salt and pepper and serve.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Recipe: Blackberry and Apple Crumble

I'm not much of a pudding person, as a family we have never really made as part of our dinner routine, like a lot of families do. However, it was always an autumnal tradition to make at least a couple of blackberry/ blackberry and apple crumbles whilst we can be bothered to go out and battle with the elements to pick our blackberries. The house I grew up in we had an acre of land, which was full of apple, plum and greengage trees- which were all surrounded by masses and masses of brambles. Been much less lazy this year about "foraging". I have made elderberry vodka (marinating vodka, elderberries and sugar for 5 weeks), I am marinating some blackberries in some brandy (to later make crème de Mure) and I am going to have a go at making crab-apple jelly in the next couple of weeks. How very....I dunno..... Victorian of me! All this pickling and preserving and harvesting!

Blackberry and Apple Crumble (serves 5) £1.78 per portion with custard (or 43p per portion if you can go and pick your own blackberries!)

500g blackberries
1 medium sized cooking apple, peeled and diced
50g golden caster sugar
Juice of half a lemon
110g soft butter
220g plain flour
170g golden caster sugar

1. Heat oven to 180C. Pour the blackberries and apple into a large ovenproof dish, sprinkle over lemon juice and sugar.
2. Mix together the butter, flour and sugar with the tips of your fingers- until a fine sandy consistency. Pour the crumble mixture over the fruit, and put into the oven for 40-50 minutes until the crumble has begun to brown.
3. Serve with ice cream or lashings of custard!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Recipe: Quorn Sausage and Bean Bake

This recipe started off with the idea that I was going to make a sort-of "vegetarian cassoulet". Since I was rather disorganised that day, not running by a recipe, and kinda grabbing what was to hand- I ended up with this nice vegetarian bake. As it is a fairly dry dish I served this with some mash and a good vegetarian gravy. People seem to think you can't make good gravy without using meat juices- but thats just not true. Just fry up some onions, add a little beer or wine (or any other spirit to hand!) some vegetable stock powder and thicken it down. Season to taste and there you go, youve got a nice meat-free gravy!

Quorn Sausage and bean bake (serves 3) Costs £1.55 per serving, with vegetarian gravy and 80g broccoli, steamed.

2 tbsp olive oil
Knob of butter
1 red onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
180g young leeks, sliced
1 large or 4 baby carrots, roughly chopped
1 tin Aduki beans, drained
6 vegetarian sausages, fried until golden, then sliced.
Handful fresh sage
1 1/2 slices wholemeal bread
Salt and pepper

1. Heat the oven to 180C.
2. Fry the onion, leeks and garlic in the olive oil and butter, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots and cook for further 10 minutes.
3. Add beans and vegetarian sausages, and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a food processor blend the sage and wholemeal breadcrumbs together until they have become fine breadcrumbs.
4. Spoon the beany mixture into a baking dish, flatten out, and evenly pour the breadcrumb mixture over the beans. Put a little salt and black pepper and top, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve with mustardy mash and a good vegetarian onion gravy!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Recipe: Broccoli, Red Onion and Courgette Penne

I know when i've made something delicious, because I will have big second helpings at the table, and then two hours later, when i'm hungry again (such a greedy girl!) I will finish off the leftovers!! Might be a few less recipes over the next couple of weeks, i have SO MUCH work for for A2 levels it's insane. Also i'm out picking loads of things from my local country walks and marinating them/making them into jellies at the moment. At this rate i'm going to be giving "Hedgerow Hampers" to everyone for Christmas!

Broccoli, red onion and Courgette Penne (serves 2) £1.07 per portion

2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
300g courgettes, halved and sliced fairly thin
200g dried penne
100g broccoli, cut into small florets
100g crème fraiche
25g finely grated cheddar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large saucepan, sauté the red onion, garlic and oregano covered for three minutes. Add the courgettes and cook covered for a further three minutes.
2. Meanwhile boil a large pan of salted water. Add the penne and cook according to pan instructions.
3. Remove the lid from the onion + courgette mixture, and keep frying on a medium heat, stirring occasionally until the pasta is ready.
4. 3 minutes before the pasta is ready, add the broccoli florets to the boiling water.
5. Drain the penne and broccoli well, and add to the pan with the courgette and onion mixture. Add the crème fraiche and cheddar and stir in, cooking the mixture for 1 minute or until everything is well combined and the cheese has melted. Season to taste and serve!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Recipe:Creamy Spaghetti with lemon and proscuitto

This is a delicious carbonara-esque dish. But lower fat, and made in the traditional way Italians make creamy sauces. When you make spaghetti carbonara it should never be swimming in sauce, the sauce should only just "coat" the pasta. This is a very easy recipe as well- I even taught my teenage stove-scared brother how to make it. This is also a much lower fat alternative to Carbonara. The only problem is i have used up the last of my last purple spring onions now though! I'm going to have to grow double the amount next year!

Creamy spaghetti with lemon and prosciutto (serves 2)

200g spaghetti
100g crème fraiche
1 egg yolk
60g prosciutto, diced
Zest of 1 lemon, and wedges to serve
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 spring onions (preferably red!) finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan and freshly chopped parsley for garnish

1. Mix the crème fraiche, egg yolk, prosciutto, lemon, basil and spring onions together.
2. Cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain, and return to the pan with 60ml of the pasta cooking liquid.
3. Stir in the creamy mixture into the pasta until the sauce has completely thickened and the pasta is fully cooked. This should only take 1 or 2 minutes. Season to taste (lots of black pepper especially) and serve with plenty of grated parmesan, parsley and a wedge of lemon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Recipe: Butterbean and Tomato Salad

Fancied a nice simple but healthy saturday lunch for me and my parents. Had a load of homegrown tomatoes to use, so I decided to use some of them up with this. I Slow roasted the rest of them with fresh thyme, to be part of a lovely special cooked breakfast I made for my boyfriend's birthday this morning. I always think it's a nice touch to cook up breakfast for your partner on a special day. It's a lovely way to start the day. Anyway, used up some more of those purple spring onions, they are so scrumptious! I used some butterbeans that I had soaked and cooked from dry- which I think works better with this recipe because the canned ones tend to disentegrate easier. But if you want to use canned, i would say use about a tin and a half of butterbeans, drained and thoroughly washed.

Butterbean and Tomato Salad (serves 4 as a side dish) 72p per portion

350g drained cooked butterbeans (cold)
250g ripe tomatoes, chopped
Handful parsley, finely chopped
2 spring onions (preferably purple!)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together, season to taste and serve!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Recipe: Summer Vegetable Medley

Decided to finally pick some of my leeks. I havent grown too many of them this year- I am harvesting them at a young stage as i'm not sure how to do the "collaring" thing that you are supposed to do when growing fully matured leeks (to make sure you get more white part than green on the plants). First time growing them, and although they are a little fussy- in terms of thinning them out and transplanting them into the border, they were worth it. First carrots pulled as well! My dad planted them and i'm surprised about how well they have grown. They are a small sweet chantenay ("Chantenay Red Cored" to be exact) variety. Something very satisfying about pulling your first carrot! This is a delicious vegetable side dish, displaying the best flavours that come from fresh homegrown produce. My parent's like their veg particularly "well done" but i dont mind that sometimes. Leeks and courgettes are nice stir fried as well as slow cooked.

Summer Vegetable Medley (serves 3 as a side dish) 70p per portion

60g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
150g young leeks
100g young carrots
250g courgettes, sliced thickly
5 tbsp white wine
Handful parsley, finely chopped
½ tsp dried thyme
1 fresh or 2 dried bay leaves
80g frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a saucepan add the butter, olive oil, garlic, leeks, carrots and courgettes, and cook on a medium heat, covered, for 5 minutes.
2. Remove the lid and cook for a further five minutes.
3. Add the wine, parsley, thyme and bay leaves, and cook on a slightly higher temperature for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the peas and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season to taste and serve.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Recipe: Creamy Chicken and Courgette Stew

My courgette plants are on the way out i think. I don't mind though really, they've served me very well this year. I cut off one of the plants as for some reason it started going a bit weird. Like the stems started going yellow and the plant started to go all mouldy and I dunno, all soft, for no reason i can figure out. I know courgettes are thirsty plants, but maybe we've actually had too much rain this year? Anyway, should get around 5 or so more until the frosts come I reckon. This recipe is sooo yum and it barely takes any time to make. If it doesn't thicken enough, add a little cornflour mixed in cold water to it at stage four. This is great served with rice or crusty buttered bread to mop up the delicious juices.

Creamy Chicken and Courgette stew (serves 2)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 knob of butter
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
400g diced chicken breast
100ml rose or white wine
1 rounded tbsp flour
500ml chicken stock
Large handful chopped parsley
½ tsp dried thyme
250g halved and sliced courgettes
Splash of single cream
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Sautee the red onion and garlic in butter and olive oil for 10 minutes, until soft. Add the chicken and cook for five minutes, or until beginning to brown.
2. Add the wine and cook on a high heat for 5 minutes, until most of the wine has evaporated.
3. Add the flour, stir to coat, and gradually add the chicken stock to the pan. Add the parsley and thyme and cook for 20 minutes on a medium to high heat, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the courgettes and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the cream, heat up for a couple more minutes, season to taste, and serve.

Recipe: Chicken Rogan Josh

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, these last couple of weeks have been such a palava. My college (Bath College) suddenly cancelled one of my A2 Level courses. I basically turned up on enrollment day (a few days before the start of college) and they just said "Oh we've stopped doing Film Studies here". Just like that. Gave me no suggestions on what to do, they just didn't care. I'd already applied for University saying that I would be completing 3 a levels this year (which is the neccessary qualifications needed for me to do my course). So i had to run around rather quickly and worringly, and find somewhere that I could do finish my a levels, or find an alternative way of doing them. Well, turns out that (very luckily!) I have managed to get into a local Sixth Form College. Of course everyone knows eachother from last year and i'm all my own and having to be "the new girl" which is a rather distressing situation. I am also allready fairly behind on this colleges work, as they began the year earlier. Anyway, can't rant anymore- I just think it's despicable what Bath College has got away with- and im glad i have washed my hands of them. If they mess up my University application I will TAKE THEM DOWN.

So this is a fairly healthy curry, and made with some of my own homegrown tomatoes as well. It is also really easy to convert this recipe into a vegetarian one- just use a 350g pack of quorn chicken style pieces instead of the chicken, and use 300ml vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock (the quorn tends to soak up more liquid than chicken). Oh and this is the last of my pepper recipes this season, I promise!I find it hard when autumn starts, to suddenly withdraw from the summer's wonderful produce.

Chicken Rogan Josh (serves 3) £1.77 per person, with 70g uncooked basics rice (then cooked).

3 tbsp oil
1 white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 rounded tbsp Rogan josh curry paste
2 chicken breasts, cut into fairly large chunks
1 tin chopped tomatoes
200ml chicken stock
½ red pepper, diced
½ green pepper, diced
2 large ripe tomatoes, sliced into wedges
salt, sugar and pepper to taste
1 tbsp natural yoghurt and a little smoked paprika for garnish

1. Cook onions and garlic for a few minutes until softened, add curry paste and cook for a further minute. Add diced chicken and cook for a couple of minutes.
2. Add tinned tomatoes, peppers and chicken stock, and cook for 15 minutes, with the lid on.
3. Remove lid, and cook for a further 10 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes, cook for the last 15 minutes, or until sauce is thick and the tomatoes are soft. season to taste and serve.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Recipe: Stuffed Roasted Butternut Squash

I feel that now it is officially Autumn, and with the season of Autumn arrives the wonderful array of squashes and pumpkins! I use butternut squashes mostly, as I find them easier to prepare than most pumpkin varieties. I got the squashes from Linda's farm again and they were really sweet and had a great texture. They are smaller than the ones you get in the shops though, but in my experience I find that the smaller butternut squashes tend to be sweeter, so In the supermarket I usually avoid the larger ones. This is a lovely recipe, I used my own homegrown courgettes and tomatoes, and the goats cheese I got at a fabulous french market (at which i also bought some stunning gourmet coffees!)

Stuffed Roasted Butternut Squash (serves 4) £1.59 per portion with side salad.

2 small butternut squash, peeled and halved vertically
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

300g (about 1 or 2) courgettes, diced
1 red onion, thickly sliced
2 ripe large tomatoes, quartered
Drizzle olive oil
Salt and pepper
100g goat’s cheese, diced

35g wholemeal breadcrumbs
15g pine nuts
20g finely grated parmesan
1 tsp dried thyme

1. Heat the oven to 200C. Scoop out the seeds and some of the flesh, to make four “fill-able” halves. Put the butternut squash halves into a roasting tin, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, add some salt and pepper, and place in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
2. Put the courgettes, red onion, tomato, olive oil, salt and pepper into a roasting dish, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes (stir up halfway through).
3. Mix all the dry ingredients (breadcrumbs, pine nuts, parmesan and thyme) together in a bowl.
4. Remove the roasted vegetable mixture from the oven. Put into a bowl and mix together with the goats cheese. Stuff the butternut squash halves with the roast vegetable and goats cheese mixture. Top with the breadcrumb mixture.
5. Place in the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until the topping is crispy and golden. Serve!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Recipe: Tomato, Mozzarella and Chorizo Salad

What's so nice about this recipe is that apart from the mozzarella and chorizo, everything is from my garden. The tomatoes, the herbs and these lovely purple spring onions. The purple spring onions are really nice, they taste brilliant and rather spicy actually! I'm definitely growing them next year. Oh and that basil is "Greek basil"- it tastes the same but it's just got lots of little leaves instead of large ones. I am also very proud of my tomatoes as well, don't they look nice?? Super Proud. This is the first time I have grown a "full sized" variety of tomatoes (rather than cherry) and the two 'alicante' plants i have been growing have been producing some lovely tasty, ripe, red fruits. And they actually smell of proper tomatoes, not like those horrible anaemic looking spanish ones you get in the supermarkets. Growing my own has been totally worth it. This is a main course portion, lovely served with crusty buttered bread. It is also nice served in smaller bowls as part of a tapas menu.

Tomato, Mozzarella and Chorizo salad (serves 2 as a main dish)

4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 spring onions (red if possible) finely sliced
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful of fresh basil and parsley, chopped finely
1 tbsp red wine or cider vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
150g good mozzarella, torn into chunks
150g chorizo, diced
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a bowl combine well all the ingredients except the chorizo.
2. Put a frying pan onto a high heat. Fry the chorizo for 4-5 minutes, until crispy. (The chorizo doesn’t need extra fat to cook it as it releases it’s own oils).
3. Meanwhile portion out the tomato salad mixture evenly into two bowls.
4. When the chorizo is ready, evenly add the chorizo to each bowl, and pour the orange oil over both the salads (there is a lot of flavour in the oils).
5. Season the salad to taste and serve with crusty bread.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Recipe: Roast Celeriac,Chilli and Courgette Tart

I know, I know, celeriac is hardly very seasonal. I do try, especially since I started working at River Cottage, to keep my meals local and seasonal. Because to be honest i have learnt a lot about cooking seasonally from working there. Before i kind of knew the basics, like brussel sprouts in winter and strawberries in summer. But now i'm realising when individual vegetables come in and out of season, and which is the best time to be eating them. Celeriac become seasonal in October through to January. However, we had one in the fridge that needed using up and I hate wasting any food, so I combined the celeriac with some of my homegrown courgettes and one of the nice hot chillies I brought back from Edinburgh (bought them at a fantastic and very expensive deli called Valvona and Crolla).

Roast Celeriac and Courgette Tart (serves 4) £1.24 per portion, £1.37 with salad.

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small celeriac, peeled and cubed
550g (about 2) courgettes, diced
½ tsp Schwartz Cajun Spice Blend (a mix consisting mainly of chilli powder + cumin)
Salt and black pepper
120g crème fraiche
1 large red chilli, finely diced
Handful fresh coriander (stems and leaves) chopped
1 circle ready made short crust pastry
50g Lancashire cheese, crumbled
1 egg, whisked (for brushing)

1. Heat the oven to 180C. Put the celeriac into a roasting dish. Drizzle over the olive oil, sprinkle over the Cajun spice blend, salt and pepper, and put in the oven for 15 minutes.
2. Add the courgettes and cook for another half an hour. Half way through cooking, stir the mixture up in the roasting tin (to assist even cookery). Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
3. Heat the oven up to 200C. In a bowl mix together the roasted celeriac, courgette, crème fraiche, chilli and coriander. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Place the circle of pastry onto the tray, and fold/pinch the edges of the pastry so there are raised edges to the circle.
4. In the circle of pastry, evenly add the roasted vegetable mixture. Sprinkle over the Lancashire cheese and brush the egg on the edges of the pastry. Place in the oven for 25 minutes, and serve.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Recipe: Courgette and Emmental Baked Rice

This recipe is loosely based on one of Jamie Oliver's recipes. I found the original recipe in a magazine, couldn't find a direct link to it online- but here is the same recipe tried by another blogger: . As you can see I made a fair few changes to the ingredients and method. I have never cooked rice in a casserole dish before, so I was slightly concerned about whether the rice would cook correctly. It turned out to be completely delicious- I had it as a side dish to some patatas bravas. Which sounds weird but the combination really works- the nice smokey tomato flavour works well with the creamy rice.

Courgette and Emmental Baked Rice (serves 2 generously as a main course, 4 as a side dish) £1.97 per person for a main course, 99p per portion as a side.

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Large knob of butter
1 large white onion, sliced thinly
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp dried rosemary
500g courgettes, halved and thinly sliced
140g easy cook basmati rice
400ml vegetable stock
75g crème fraiche
1 tbsp sundried tomato pesto
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
150g emmental, finely grated
Salt and cracked black pepper

1. In a fairly large casserole, sauté the onions in the butter and olive oil on a medium heat for 10 minutes, covered. Add the sugar and rosemary and cook uncovered for a further 10 minutes, or until browned.
2. Add the rice, courgettes and stock, and cook on a high heat, covered, for 5 minutes. Heat the oven to 180C.
3. Stir in the crème fraiche, sundried tomato pesto, parsley and half the emmental. Add a little salt and pepper. Smooth the mixture over, top with the remaining emmental, and put in the oven covered for 10 minutes.
4. Remove the lid, turn the temperature up to 200C and cook for further 10 minutes. Serve!

Recipe: Courgette and Feta Risotto

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, but I have some good news for y'all! I got my A's level results last week and I got three B's! Very happy with these grades as those are the grades I wanted. Finger's crossed that I get three C's overall next year, and that i get a place at Bath Spa University. Due to my exam results I took a little celebratory trip to Edinburgh for a few days- to see my boyfriend, to see plenty of Comedy shows in the Fringe festival, and to have a few well earned drinks! I had never been to Scotland before so it had real fun, and Edinburgh is such a beautiful city- with good restaurants, cafes, bars and delis everywhere you look! Anyway, just before I went away I made something out of the courgettes I had harvested. Even though I used a courgette up on this dish, AND I brought some courgettes with me to Edinburgh (as part of a home-made foodie gift basket), when I got back from holiday I still had to pick three HUGE "marrow shaped" ones. I think maybe next year I only need two plants- i seem to be planning all my summer meals on this vegetable alone! Anyway, this is a scrumtious recipe, enjoy!

Courgette and Feta Risotto (serves 2 generously- £1.43 per portion)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 courgette, halved and sliced
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small white onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ tsp dried mint
170g risotto rice
100ml white wine
500ml vegetable stock
8g fresh basil, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste
100g feta, chopped into small cubes
Freshly grated parmesan to serve

1. Sautee the courgettes in the extra virgin olive oil and seasoning for 8 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally. Remove the courgettes with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2. In another pan, heat up the olive oil. Cook the onion and garlic, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft. Add dried mint, rice and white wine, and cook uncovered for 2-3 minutes (or until most of the wine has been absorbed).
3. Gradually add the stock, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente (this should take about 10-12 minutes). 2 minutes before serving add the basil and the reserved courgettes.
4. Once the risotto is ready, add the feta, stir in and serve with some freshly grated parmesan.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Recipe: Vegetarian Chilli Cottage Pie

I love shepherd's and cottage pies. Quorn is a very interesting ingredient as well. It doesn't taste of very much but it's a very good absorber of flavours. Quorn is a low fat alternative to beef as well. Not that it really makes a difference in this comforting calorific dish! Quorn is made from a protein obtained from mushrooms, mixed with egg whites and various other natural ingredients. I have made this dish with beef mince as well, and also with leftover beef chilli. Mince is such an economical ingredient, it can be utilised in so many different dishes and you can really make it go a long way. Serve this dish with steamed green vegetables and a thick flavoursome gravy.

Vegetarian Chilli Cottage Pie (serves 6) £1.50 per portion, or £1.64 per portion with 80g frozen peas as side dish per person. Also, less than £1.50 per portion if made with basics beef mince or Sainsburys own brand veggie mince!!

The Mince:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
100g white mushrooms, chopped
½ tsp smoked paprika
100ml white wine
1 tsp cumin
Pinch white pepper
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp mild chilli powder
350g pack of Quorn mince
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
200ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp Worchester sauce
10g coriander leaves and stems chopped

The Mash:
1350g potatoes, peeled and diced into large chunks
2 tbsp butter
Drizzle double cream
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
120g cheddar, grated

1. In a saucepan sauté the onions, garlic, oregano and thyme in olive oil, covered for 10 minutes, or until soft. Add the mushrooms and smoked paprika and cook (uncovered) for 2 minutes.
2. Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add all other mince ingredients and cook for 35 minutes on a medium heat, stirring occasionally.
3. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes until soft enough to mash (takes about 20 minutes). Drain and mash the potatoes. Mix in the butter, double cream and mustard.
4. Adjust seasoning (salt, pepper and sugar to taste) on the mince and mash. Pour the mince into a large baking dish. Spoon and smooth the mash over the mince. Top with grated cheddar.
5. Put the grill onto a high heat. Put the pie under the grill until the topping is melted and golden. Serve.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Recipe: "Jumbleberry" Jam

Theres one thing you learn after working in kitchens for a few years: Patience. And you do need a fair amount of patience for this jam. Because the majority of this jam is made from elderberries. I walked round the hedgerows near my house and harvested a load of them, then spent about 3 hours picking the individual dark berries (leaving the pink-ish or green ones) off the stems. Theres still loads of elderberries out there actually, might make something else out of them if i can be bothered! This jam reminds me of the house i grew up in. I grew up in a nice country house, in Colerne (30 minutes away from Bath) with a massive garden, most of which was covered in apple trees, plum trees, elderberry trees and brambles. I loved late summer/early autumn when I could just go into the garden and basicaly gorge myself on the fresh plums and greengages. The greengages were the treasured ones, because there were only a couple of small greengage trees compared to the loads of plum trees we had.

This time, I picked the elderberries myself, I picked a third of the blackberries myself, and the rest of the blackberries, raspberries and greengages are locally grown. I've put them into little jars to give as presents to people. It is fab on toast, but it also goes really well with oaty things, such as oatcakes or stirred into porridge.

“Jumbleberry” Jam (makes about 2.5kg) Costs £2.91 to make if you go pick your own elderberries, blackberries and greengages- 10 x 250g jars at 30p each!

900g elderberries
700g blackberries
450g greengages, pitted
150g raspberries
4 tbsp lemon juice
1700g caster sugar

1. In a large saucepan bring all the ingredients to the boil (being careful not to burn the mixture on the bottom of the pan). Lower the temperature so that the mixture is on a rolling boil.
2. Cook for about 1 hour 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Pour into preserving jars. Close the lids after an hour, once the jam has cooled slightly. Lasts about a month.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Recipe: Creamy Rice Stuffed Courgettes

I had some of the courgette and chive dip left and a few courgettes so I decided to make some stuffed courgettes. They were really tasty and filling. I served them with a herby tomato sauce.

Creamy Rice Stuffed Courgettes (serves 3) £1.26 per portion, £1.44 with salad.

150g basmati rice
3 courgettes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 large ripe tomato, seeded and diced
220g sour cream and chive dip or tzatziki
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper
90g finely grated cheddar

1. Cook the rice about 2 minutes less than the packet instructions advice. This is so the rice doesn’t become overcooked once baked in the oven. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat the oven to 200C. Halve the courgettes lengthwise (don’t cut the ends of the stems off like you would normally do). With a small spoon scoop out the flesh in the middle (being careful not to go totally through the courgettes) until you are left with 6 hollow “boat-like” courgette halves, ready for filling.
3. In a saucepan heat the olive oil. Add the courgette flesh and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the cooked rice, dip, tomato, extra virgin olive oil and some black pepper. Stir until well combined.
4. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Place the courgette halves on to the tray. Sprinkle the insides with a little bit of salt. Spoon the rice mixture into the courgette halves generously.
5. Place the finely grated cheddar evenly over the top of the stuffed courgettes. Place the tray in the oven for 35 minutes. Remove and serve!

Recipe: Creamy Courgette and Chive Dip

So it was a lovely nice summer afternoon (probably one of the last ones this year, so I wanted to make the most of it!) and me and my parents were sat out on the patio, drinking coffee and having lunch. We were having some hummus and pitta breads, and I thought I wouldn’t mind making a nice cool tzatziki-ish thing. Didn't have any cucumber, only some courgettes I’d picked the day before. I heard you can eat courgette raw and you can bake them in cakes as well so I thought I’d make it with courgette and some chives from the garden. We always have plenty of Philadelphia in the house cause im addicted to the stuff, cause it's nice with anything. This dip is delicious, refreshing and it's fairly good for you. Serve with vegetable crudités (radishes, cucumber, and carrots go really well).

Creamy courgette and chive dip (serves 4 as an appetiser) costs £1.81 to make. 72p per person with cucumber and radishes to dip.

200g (1 medium) courgette, grated very finely
350g Full fat cream cheese
50ml semi-skimmed milk
15g chives, finely chopped
½ tsp Schwartz Cajun spice blend (a mix consisting mainly of chilli powder + cumin)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl until everything is very well mixed. Season to taste. Allow to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Serve.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Recipe: Basil Penne and Courgette Bake

Another delicious courgette recipe that i'm very happy with. I've harvested almost 4 kilograms of courgettes in less than a month, and I only have three plants growing! Most of the time I like eating courgettes simply, either slow cooked with garlic and dill, or (my favourite food when I was five) fried with lots of grated cheddar and black pepper on top- just totally nostalgic.

Basil Penne and Courgette bake (serves 3) £1.66 per portion, £1.84 with green salad on side.

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 white onion, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, crushed
600g (about 3) courgettes, diced
250g penne
300ml crème fraiche
40g wholemeal bread
Small handful fresh basil leaves
15g finely grated parmesan
40g pine nuts

1. Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes covered, or until softened. Add the courgettes with some salt and pepper, and cook covered for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally
2. Meanwhile cook the penne until aldente, and preheat the oven to 160C. In a food processor and blend the bread and fresh basil into fine, green breadcrumbs. Mix in the parmesan and pine nuts.
3. Drain the pasta, reserving 100ml of the cooking water. Put the pasta, crème fraiche and cooking water, into the pan with the courgettes. Stir until well combined.
4. Pour into a baking dish, and cover with the breadcrumb topping. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave to cool for about 5 minutes and serve.

Recipe: Roasted Ratatouille

This is by far the best ratatouille I have ever made or tasted. I think this dish has put a lot of people off courgettes over the years. Often you get flavourless watery offerings in canteens, which make people think less favourably of this wonderfully rustic French dish.

The trick behind my recipe is to roast all the elements separately. It is useful if you have at least 2 roasting tins, that way it doesn't take all that long to make. In terms of the dish's authenticity, im sure by missing out the aubergine I am committing a cardinal sin, but I believe the dish works better without.

Bit of a story behind this actually. Earlier on in the afternoon mum sent me out to the local farm to get some eggs. She had walked past it many times walking the dog, but had never gone up to the house part to buy produce. I though it was exciting, because it's good to get local produce and to support small businesses. Here's a picture of the farm and the sign I noticed outside, everything is so cheap!

I met the farmer, Linda, and she took me for a little tour round the produce she has been growing. She showed me the courgettes, which I was interested to look at in terms of comparing with mine. I also saw some very promising looking butternut squash plants, give it a couple of weeks and I'll be heading up there to get a couple I think. She keeps 15 hens; she says she gets 14 eggs a day at the moment because one of them has "gone a bit broody", hah!). So I bought a dozen eggs from her, and I decided I would get about a pound of yellow courgettes. Because I love them and you can't really get them in the shops. So when i was making this dish, with all the seperate elements, i left the kitchen at one point to answer the phone. I come back, and theres a naughty looking dog running away, and an empty roasting dish that previously contained 2 pounds of roasted courgettes! She's such a naughty dog! I wish i'd closed the door properly! This is a picture of my dog Misty in the kitchen(Misty is the flat coated retriever on the left. The one on the right is the next door neighbour's black labrador Louie). Bad Dog!

So since my homegrown green courgettes and the yellows I got earlier had all been scoffed, I had to send my mum up for a repeat visit to Linda's farm, whilst I roasted the other ingredients! After all that fuss it was delicious anyway. Mum had it with a cheese omelette (the local eggs are very good!) and I had it with a hunk of crusty bread to mop up the juices. It also works very well as a side dish for roast lamb.

Ratatouille (serves 6 as a side dish, 3 as a main)

3 green peppers, diced fairly thickly
3 red onions, diced fairly thickly
850g courgettes (a mix of yellow and green if possible) thickly sliced
1350g ripe tomatoes, quartered
Olive oil, salt and pepper
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano (or 1tsp dried) chopped
¼ tsp garlic granules
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the oven to 160C. Separately roast all the vegetables in different roasting tins, with drizzles of olive oil, salt and pepper. They all take 40 minutes, you should stir them halfway through their cooking time.
2. Put all the separately roasted vegetables into a large pan. Add all other ingredients, and cook for 10 minutes, or until hot and everything is well mixed. Serve.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Recipe: Roast Vegetable and Feta Tart

Ok so this recipe is a little fussy but its totally worth it in the end. I love roast vegetables, and they are even nicer when combined with salty feta cheese. The picture isn't picture perfect, i say in he the recipe to use ready rolled shortcrust pastry, but in this picture i used some very good shortcrust that my mum made up. So if you're up for making your own shortcrust, go for it. The ratio for shortcrust is half fat (butter is best) to flour, sometimes with a little water to help mix it together. If you can't get full fat cottage cheese, ricotta will work just as well.

Roast vegetable and feta Tart (serves 4)  £1.81 per portion, £1.99 with green salad on the side.

1 circle of ready rolled short crust pastry
450g courgettes (about 2), chopped into chunks
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 red onion, chopped into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and diced (diced into slightly smaller chunks than the rest of the veg, as they take longer to cook)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 egg
150g full fat cottage cheese
100g feta, crumbled
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
150ml double cream

1. Heat the oven to 180C. Place the pastry into a 9 inch greaseproof tart case, with some greaseproof paper and baking beads/beans. Bake blind for 25 minutes. Remove the greaseproof baking bead package, and put back in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, trim any excess hanging pastry away, and set aside. Heat the oven up to 200C.
2. Put the courgettes, peppers, red onion and carrots in a roasting tin with a big drizzle of olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven (set at 200C) for 1 hour, removing from the oven and stirring every 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Set the oven back 180C.
3. In a large mixing bowl, mix the egg, cottage cheese, feta, thyme, basil and cream together. Mix in the roasted vegetables, season the mixture, and pour it into the tart case. Place in the oven for 35 minutes.
4. Heat under the grill for a couple of minutes, and then leave to cool (and set a bit) for 5 minutes. Serve.