Thursday, June 23, 2011

Recipe: Quorn Bolognese Vermicelli Bake

This is a nice filling and comforting pasta bake- a vegetarian main that's packed with flavour, that will feed the whole family very happily. Using vermicelli gives it a really interesting texture, different to most pasta bakes, and ensures that the dish doesn't dry out. Quorn is a vegetarian mince, made through combining a type of mushroom with microproteins from eggs. You can of course use TVP or any other similar veggie mince in this dish.

Quorn Bolognese Vermicelli Bake (serves 4) £1.72 with 50g mixed salad on the side (£1.60 per person if you use supermarket branded veggie mince instead of quorn).

2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 x 350g pack of Quorn mince
650ml Passata
1 vegetable Oxo stock cube
2 tsp Italian seasoning (a dried herb mix of oregano, marjoram and basil)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp worchester sauce
250g vermicelli pasta
125g grated mozzarella
75g grated cheddar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry the red onion and garlic in the olive oil in a large saucepan, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Quorn, passata, stock cube, herbs and sugar, and cook on a low-medium heat uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C. Cook the vermicelli in salted boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and mix into the Quorn mixture (once it has had its 15 minutes), mix well, season to taste, and then pour into a baking dish.
3. Smooth over to make it even, top with the mozzarella and cheddar, and bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Heat the bake under a hot grill for a couple of minutes to gratinate, and serve!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Recipe: Red Onion Chutney

Hey guys. Well, gotta admit, you may see a little less of me over the next couple of months. Well these past couple of weeks, not only have I had my exams to worry about, and arranging the usual Glastonbury Festival "holiday", but i've got a new job too! Don't worry, I havent quit the garden centre job that I love, but basically i've got a job for the summer at new restaurant chain "The Cosy Club". Nice menu (sorta ciabattas, paninis, all day breakfast, tapas, and specials), Nice people, and rather a lot of hours! So until I (hopefully) get to Uni in October, there might be a few less posts than usual! This red onion chutney is stunnin', fab with a big slab of brie, in a cheese sandwich, or with a juicy homemade burger!

Red Onion Chutney (makes 750g) 2 jars, £1.61 per jar

110ml olive oil
1kg peeled and thinly sliced red onions (about 10/11 onions)
1 tsp dried thyme
400g caster sugar
150ml red wine vinegar
250ml cider vinegar
Salt and pepper
50g finely chopped cocktail gherkins

1. In a large saucepan, fry the onions and thyme in the olive oil, on a medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add sugar, stir in, and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring often.
3. Add the vinegars, and cook on a medium heat for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Take the chutney off the heat, and skim off any excess oil with a ladle. Mix in the chopped gherkins, add a little salt and pepper, and spoon into jars.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Recipe: Pork, Butterbean and Spring Green Casserole

I've been meaning to write this up for ages- this is such a moreish recipe- maybe the reason its taken me ages to put this up is because we've started eating it before i can take a picture of it! Lol! Nick says this is his favourite recipe of mine. This, my keema matar, and my chicken and black bean stew are his favourites. I think in general he just loves casseroles- as do I. Use a very lean cut of meat, and make sure you sear it, and your result will be literally melt-in-the-mouth pork! Takes a while in the oven, but it's still a fairly simple recipe to make though. Apologies for dirty oven though- filthy! Shall have to get nick into some marigolds to get scrubbing that hob (haha!)

Pork, butterbean and spring green casserole (serves 2 generously) £1.99 per serving

2 tbsp olive oil
250g diced lean pork, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 rashers smoky bacon, diced
1 banana shallot (or 4 little shallots) sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tin butterbeans, drained and rinsed
500ml chicken stock
1 bay leaf
150g diced spring greens
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
½ tsp Worchester sauce
1 rounded tsp cornflour, mixed with a little water
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. In a casserole, fry the seasoned pork in the olive oil on a high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the shallot, bacon and garlic and cook for 5 more minutes.
2. Add all the other ingredients (except the cornflour), mix well, put the lid on, and put in the oven for an hour.
3. Remove from the oven, add the cornflour mixture, mix in, then put back in the oven for a further 45 minutes. Remove, season to taste, and serve!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Recipe: Sausages with Roasted Tomatoes and Mushrooms

This is a very simple dish, only a few ingredients- but a lot of flavour! It's good if you don't want to make too much washing up as well- cause you only need to use one dish to cook it all in! I like to serve this with hunks of french baguette to mop up the juices, and steamed green veg. I also generally like to use nice plump "taste the difference" pork sausages. Cause theres nothing worse really than bad quality sausages- cheap sausages are just not worth it! Although to be fair although I would never eat them, I love the latest Wall's sausages advert- with the singing dog. "But he can't really tell you cos he's just a bloke really"- hahaha (:

Sausages with roasted tomatoes and mushrooms (serves 2) £1.14 per serving, with 1kg basic potatoes turned into mash!

4 pork sausages
130g mushrooms, diced
100g Cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp dried rosemary
¼ tsp dried garlic
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Place four sausages into a heatproof dish, prick them, and cook them in the oven for 15 minutes.
2. Remove the dish from the oven, remove the sausages and set aside. Into the heatproof bowl, add all the other ingredients, and mix up a little. Place the reserved sausages on top of the vegetables, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven and serve!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Recipe: Elderflower and Lemon Cordial

This is the first cordial I have ever tried to make, and it's turned out really well! Really tasty, and I reckon it will make a really nice gift. It's good for me too, cause at the moment i'm not drinking- and elderflower cordial or sparkling elderflower works as a nice non-alchoholic drink. I havent been drinking for a month actually- cause my exams are coming up and I think I drank too much too close to my exams last year. My first exam is tommorow- quite nervous I suppose, but then again it's film studies, and i've found out that i've done so well in my coursework/As levels, that even before I step into the exam i've already got a C. Cool ey?

Elderflower and Lemon Cordial (makes 2 litres)

1.8kg white caster sugar
1.2 litre water
20 heads of elderflower
1 lemon, chopped (skin and all!)
75g citric acid

1. Heat up the sugar and water gently in a large pan, stirring continually, until the sugar has fully dissolved (this takes about 10 minutes).
2. Add all the other ingredients, stir, and pour into a large kilner jar. Seal, and keep in a cool place for 24 hours to allow the flavours to increase.
3. Strain the mixture through a jelly bag/muslin cloth. Pour into bottles and seal.

PS: This cordial only lasts a maximum of two weeks, so use it or give it out to people as soon as possible!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Competition: We Grow Our Own's "Cultivate, Cook and Click" Competition

Yes people- i've won another one- haha! There is this website, ( which follows the trials and tribulations of growing fruit and veg on an allotment, and also has features on seasonal recipes and how to make the best out of your home-grown grub! Over the last couple of months they have ran a competition, that they call the "Cultivate, Cook and Click" Competition. Basically they select a few seasonal fruit and veg, and then ask for people's recipes including these ingredients. They judge the recipes (giving extra marks if you have home-grown your ingredients) and then the best recipes go to a public vote for a week- and the one with the most votes win!

Well, the fruit and veg for May's competition were Cauliflowers, Radishes, Spinach, Turnips and Spring Cabbages. I went for spinach, and sent in my Sweet Potato and Spinach Dahl recipe (the recipe is on the site) and it won! I won a collection of chilli sauces and jams from The Wiltshire Chilli Farm, and a couple of bottles of rapeseed oil from Oleifera.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Recipe: Tenderstem Broccoli and Broad Beans, with Mint and Bacon

This is a tasty little side dish, made with tender green vegetables, smoky bacon, and fresh mint. I get the "Tenderstem" Broccoli from Waitrose- I have heard it called other things before, such as Broccolini and longstemmed broccoli, so you might find it in another supermarket under a different name. Oh and also, you don't have to pod the broad beans if you don't want to- I do it because a) it makes the colour of the dish look more green and b) I find podding broad beans very relaxing. It's because i used to have to pod kilograms and kilograms of the things at my first commis chef job at Strada, and I really really loved that job. My first job, even after working at all these different places, is still my favourite.

Tenderstem Broccoli and Broad beans with mint and bacon (serves 2 as a side dish)

125g tenderstem broccoli, spears halved
125g frozen broad beans, defrosted then “podded”
1 thick slice smoked back bacon, diced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Squeeze of lemon
Handful fresh mint, finely chopped
Pinch of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste

1. Steam the tenderstem broccoli for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a non-stick frying pan, fry the bacon until beginning to brown.
2. Add the steamed tenderstem and all the other ingredients to the bacon, stir fry around until everything is well coated for a couple of minutes, season to taste, and serve!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Recipe: Beef In Oyster Sauce with Mushrooms and Peppers

I've been meaning to write up this recipe for ages- its gawwwjus. I love chinese food so much, and a delivery from my local takeaway (The "Yummy House" in Bath- luuuush) is enough to cure anything really- from hangovers to anxiety over those ever-looming exams! I would easily say this dish is nicer than any of the beef dishes i've got from asian restaurants or takeaways- it's really tasty, tender, quick- and makes quite a healthy dinner. I use "Blue Dragon" oyster sauce- but of course you can use whichever brand you prefer the flavour of.

Beef in oyster sauce with mushrooms and green pepper (serves 2)

300g beef escalopes, sliced into strips
3 tbsp black rice vinegar
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 rounded tsp honey
1 tsp crushed ginger (From “Gourmet Garden Herb Blends”)
Salt and Plenty of cracked black pepper
3 tbsp rapeseed or vegetable oil
125g whole oyster mushrooms, bigger ones halved
1 green pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 x 120g pouch Blue Dragon Oyster and Spring Onion sauce
2 spring onions, sliced
Basmati or sticky rice, or noodles, to serve.

1. In a bowl mix together the vinegar, soy sauce, honey, salt pepper, and ginger. Add the strips of beef, mix well, cover the bowl with Clingfilm, and marinade in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
2. Remove the beef from the fridge and pour away as much of the marinade as possible. Heat the oil in a wok on a high. Stir fry the beef for about 4 minutes, or until the beef strips are beginning to brown.
3. Reduce the temperature a little, add the mushrooms, green pepper, garlic and spring onion and stir fry for 4 minutes.
4. Add oyster sauce and cook for about 2 minutes, until the sauce is thick, the peppers are fully cooked, and everything is piping hot. Serve, on top of steamed rice or noodles.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Recipe: Savoury Peanut Pie

This is one of my mum's classic recipes. It's almost like a nut roast, but it's lovely and moist and surrounded in pastry! Very "vegetarian" I suppose, but this is very much a comfort food for me- served with roasted carrots, peas, mash, and plenty of vegetarian gravy! You can of course make your own shortcrust pastry, and my mum usually does, but if you're stuck for time just use the ready-made rolled stuff.

Savoury Peanut Pie (serves 3) £1.66 per serving, with 200g steamed new potatoes, 160g steamed broccoli and instant gravy.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced
220g dry roasted peanuts, finely chopped (in a food processor if you have one!)
½ tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
Salt and black pepper
Ready rolled Shortcrust pastry
Beaten egg (for egg wash)

1. Fry the onions in the olive oil, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the nuts, tinned tomatoes, Worchester sauce, herbs and a little salt and pepper, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line an 8 inch pie dish with Shortcrust pastry. Fill the pastry with the peanut mixture, then top with more of the Shortcrust pastry, trimming to form a lid. Cut a couple of little holes in the top, brush with egg, and bake for 35 minutes.
3. Serve, with a nice veggie gravy, potatoes and veg!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Recipe: Spiced Chicken and Pepper Kebabs, with Mango Coriander cous cous

Just rustled this up for my lunch- wonderful! Mum was asking whether I could do a vegetarian version, and yeah I reckon if I replaced the chicken with paneer then that would work as a fairly good substitute. The chicken has a pleasant carribean/ jamaican flavour to it, without being too spicy, and the fruity couscous compliments the kebabs very well.

Spiced Chicken and Pepper Kebabs, with mango and coriander couscous (serves 2)

1 tsp allspice
1 tsp chilli powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp dried thyme
A little grating of fresh nutmeg
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp olive oil
2 spring onions, finely diced
2 chicken breasts, diced into small-ish chunks
1 red pepper, diced into chunks

150g couscous
½ tsp dukka
200ml hot vegetable stock
140g diced fresh mango
Large handful fresh coriander, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. In a bowl mix together the allspice, chilli powder, garlic powder, thyme, nutmeg, lime, olive oil, spring onions and a little salt and pepper. Mix in the chunks of chicken, coat well in the marinade, and marinate for at least 15 minutes in the fridge.
2. Meanwhile, soak 4 wooden skewers in water (to prevent burning in the oven). Preheat the oven to 220C. Get the wooden skewers and evenly thread the pieces of chicken and pieces of red pepper along them. Place skewers on a baking tray, pour any excess marinade over them, and cook for 15 minutes.
3. Whilst the skewers are in the oven, prepare the couscous. In a bowl, place the couscous, dukka, and boiling hot vegetable stock, and cover for 10 minutes. Fluff up with a fork, and mix in the mango, coriander, and olive oil. Season to taste, and serve on the side of the kebabs.