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 b├ęchamel). 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.