Thursday, July 28, 2011

Recipe: Strawberry, Pistachio and Custard Tart/Tartletts

Hey guys. I made this recipe to enter it in an online magazine strawberry recipe competition, and figured i would bring it to the neighbourhood barbeque too. Turns out that when you make it as one large tart (rather than lots of little tarts), it's a little messy to eat, so not really suitable for a fork + paper plate kind of event. As my mum said, it's more of a "spoon dessert" (as in you need a proper bowl and spoon in order to eat i- due to the texture of the creme patisserie). So yeah, i reccomend using little sweet pastry tart cases if you can find them. Anyway, i think that this dish is pretty enough to impress at a dinner party, and the flavour combination of pistachios and strawberres is divine!

Strawberry and Pistachio Custard Tart/ Tartlets (serves 8) 58p per serving

Crème Patisserie
300ml whole milk
1tsp vanilla bean extract
4 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
25g flour
25g cornstarch

1 large pre-made sweet pastry case, or 12 smaller ones.
About 12 Strawberries, sliced thinly
Handful of chopped pistachios

1. For the custard, In a bowl mix the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract together. Sieve the flour and cornstarch together into the egg mixture, and mix well.
2. In a saucepan heat the milk until just before the boiling point. Pour the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly, until everything is well mixed. Transfer this mixture into a bowl placed upon a pan of boiling water. Stir until the mixture has thickened as much as to “coat the back of the spoon” (takes about 5 minutes).
3. If needed, pass custard through a sieve to get red of lumps. Allow to cool.
4. Spoon the thick custard into the tart case/ cases, arrange the sliced strawberries on top, sprinkle with chopped pistachios, and serve!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Competition: "Haute Cuisine Love Marmite" Recipe Competition

Yes, another one of these competitions! I do think that these competitions where you have to vote for your favourite dishes are slightly flawed. Because when the competition is based purely on numbers, it isn't about how good the dish or the picture or the recipe is, it's just about how many people you know that can be bothered to vote for you. Anyway, so this is a new competition Marmite have started (i think you might have seen the adverts of TV perhaps, with the cartoon Frog and Snail chatting about food?) in order to display interesting ways of using marmite in recipes- not just spreading it on toast!

I think i agree with them really, Marmite is actually quite a versatile food stuff. It's very good to make something "more savoury"- like with onions and sausages and things (The sites "featured recipe" is sausage, onion and marmite butties. People can make this, take a nice picture, and enter into the competition. You like, have a choice between making your own recipe or their featured one). It's also good at making vegetarian dishes somehow taste a bit "meaty", or to enrich stews and casseroles.

I have entered a Venison, Red Wine, and Marmite casserole recipe, and at the moment it has only got a few votes, and it would be fabulous if a few of you could up the stakes a bit! If you could go onto this link, (you have to "Like" marmite on facebook in order to vote) and vote for my recipe, that would be brilliant, thanks very much.

Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Recipe: Pea and Broad Bean Dip

I brought this dip to the annual neighbourhood barbeque and it got snapped right up- it had all gone in the first half an hour! Got lots of compliments too- and i'm not surprised really, it uses such simple fresh ingredients and classic flavour combinations, it was bound to be a hit. I also like how vibrant this is- the bright green colour really makes it stand out against other dishes. You can of course use fresh peas instead of frozen- you just have to add a couple more minutes to the cooking time.

Pea and Broad Bean Dip serves 2 as a main with 2 x pitta bread to dip each,  £1.13 per serving

200g Frozen peas
180g Fresh Broad Beans
1 tbsp olive oil
½ white onion, diced finely
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
1 tsp lemon juice
Handful fresh mint, finely chopped (plus a few extra leaves for garnish)
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
40g feta, crumbled

1. Cook the broad beans in boiling water for 5 minutes, drain, refresh under cold water, remove the outer skins (“pod” them), and set aside.
2. Cook the peas in boiling water for 3 minutes, drain, refresh under cold water, and set aside. Sautee the onion in the olive oil for 5 minutes on a medium heat until softened.
3. In a food processor, blend the peas, broad beans and cooked onions with all the other ingredients (except the feta cheese) until smooth. Season to taste.
4. Spoon into a bowl, top with feta cheese, a few extra mint leaves, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and serve!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Recipe: Pork Goulash

Many attempts have been made over this dish but i think i've finally perfected it! Goulash is a wonderfully warming European treat- originally Hungarian but very popular in the colder countries of Eastern Europe. Me and Nick had some fantastic goulashes when we went to Prague last year and i've been trying to pinpoint a good recipe of it ever since. It's warming, it's meaty, but its also got a strong tomato flavour, as well as the most important element- the sweet fragrant taste you get from carraway seeds. I would say that without carraway seeds you can't make a traditional goulash, it's what sets it apart from different stews and casseroles. This dish is also very nice made with beef, but pork is the more traditionally used meat.

Pork Goulash (serves 3-4)

2 tbsp olive oil
450g diced pork leg, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
400g diced fresh tomatoes
1 red pepper, diced
2 large carrots, diced
500ml beef stock
1 tsp marmite
10g caraway seeds
3g cumin seeds
¼ tsp hot smoked paprika
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp sugar
1 rounded tsp cornflour, mixed with a little water.
Salt and pepper
Chopped fresh parsley and soured cream for garnish

1. Toast the cumin and caraway seeds in a hot pan until smoking and browned (not burnt!), and blend in a spice or coffee grinder until fairly fine. Set aside.
2. Fry the diced pork in the olive oil in a large saucepan until beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the red onion and garlic and fry for a further five minutes.
3. Preheat the (fan) oven to 180C. Add all the other ingredients (including the reserved ground spices) to the pork and cook on a medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour mixture into a large casserole dish, cover, and cook in the oven for 1 hour. Remove, add cornflour, stir in, and cook for a further hour.
4. Garnish with some chopped fresh parsley, and serve with some soured cream and some chunks of crusty bread or a big pile of creamy mashed potato!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Recipe: Broad Bean and Courgette Bulghur Salad

Keep getting loads of broad beans from Riverford! You'll be expecting another broad bean creation as my next entry actually. Its a veg that I do really like, but I dont tend to actually go out and buy. This is a nice, tasty, healthy and fresh tasting dish- not made with my own courgettes yet, they arent doing so well this year. Only got two plants (3rd one got devoured by slugs!) this time and it's being a bit slower producing nice big juicy fruits! You can boil the broad beans seperately if you want to peel their skins off- but i don't mind the skins. If you get nice fresh broad beans and you dont overcook them their skins never get tough really.

Broad Bean and Courgette Bulghur Salad (serves 3 as a side dish) £1.04 per serving

110g bulghur wheat
200ml hot vegetable stock (or chicken, depending on whether you want it vegetarian)
250g fresh broad beans
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 courgette, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Big handful mint, finely chopped (plus extra leaves for garnish)
100g Feta Cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the bulghur wheat in the vegetable stock for 15 minutes, or until the wheat has soaked up all the liquid and is cooked. 10 minutes before the end of the cooking add the broad beans. Pour broad bean and bulghur mixture into a bowl and set aside.
2. In another pan, fry the red onions for about 5 minutes in the olive oil, until softened, then add to the bulghur mixture. To the same pan add the courgettes and fry for a further 5 minutes, until beginning to brown, then add to the bulghur mixture.
3. Mix in the extra virgin olive oil and fresh mint into the bulghur salad. Season to taste, crumble feta over the top, garnish with a few extra torn mint leaves, and serve!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Recipe: Aloo Sag Pie

This makes rather a lot but it is darn tasty! Our family started getting those Riverford seasonal vegetable boxes again, and I had a load of spinach, spring onions, and some tomatoes left- so I came up with this! Thats one of the things I like about these weekly veg boxes- they make me be a bit more creative with the vegetables that I have. The pie filling is rather nice by itself just as a curry really- but you know me, I like sticking things into pastry! I have served this with a cucumber raita- just some natural yoghurt mixed with grated cucumber, and some mint. It works as a sauce essentially, and stops the dish from being too dry.

Aloo Saag Pies (makes two large pies, serves 6) £1.30 per person

1250g potatoes, peeled and diced (about 3cm cubes)
2 tbsp olive oil
8 spring onions, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
¼ tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp crushed ginger
3 tbsp Pataks Korma Curry Paste
100g diced ripe tomato
300g roughly chopped true spinach (or baby spinach)
2 large sheets ready rolled puff pastry
Salt and pepper to taste
Egg (for egg wash)- optional

500g yoghurt
1 cucumber, grated
15g fresh mint, finely chopped
salt and pepper

1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add a bit of salt and boil the potatoes for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 200C. In a large frying pan sauté the spring onions in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and chilli flakes, and cook for a further two minutes.
3. Add the crushed ginger, curry paste, and diced tomato, and cook for two minutes. Begin to gradually add the spinach, adding more as it continues to wilt. Cooking all the spinach until it wilts and is well combined with the rest of the ingredients usually takes about 10 minutes.
4. Take the spinach mixture off the heat and mix in the potatoes. You want to mash the potatoes a little, but you still want a few chunks of potato here and there. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Lay out the two sheets of puff pastry onto separate baking trays that have been lined with greaseproof paper. Pour half of the mixture onto each pastry sheet, fold the pastry over the topping, and crimp at the edges to seal.
6. Brush with beaten egg and bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Serve with a cooling cucumber raita!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Recipe: Mel's Chicken Caeser Salad

This is Caeser salad done the way i like it! I use full fat greek yoghurt instead of mayonnaise- not for any health reasons really, just because I don't like mayo atall and i think you get a better flavour from yoghurt. Sometimes I use chicken breasts with the skin on too- if so, I sear the skin side of the breast in a frying pan before chucking in the oven. Oh, and I know traditionally Caeser salad has anchovies in it, but I can't stand the horrible little things! Used up some home-grown lettuce in this too, a variety called "Buttercrisp". It's kinda like kos or romaine though. Got loads of salad/ lambs lettuce to use- theyve all bolted suddenly all at the same time!

Mel’s Chicken Caeser Salad (serves 2)

The Chicken
2 chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper

The Croutons
1 thick slice white bread, diced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp dried oregano
Cracked black pepper.

100g full fat Greek yoghurt
20g finely grated parmesan
15g wholegrain mustard
5 ml Worchester sauce
15ml white wine vinegar
1 crushed garlic clove
15ml extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of sugar, and cracked black pepper
250g torn Kos/Romaine style lettuce
Optional extras: sliced tomato, crispy bacon, anchovies, olives etc.

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. In a baking dish roast the chicken in the oven with the olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper for 30 minutes.
2. On a baking tray toss together the diced bread, olive oil, oregano and black pepper (you don’t need any salt in the croutons or the dressing, because the parmesan is salty enough for the entire dish). Bake in the same oven for about 5 minutes, until golden and crispy.
3. Mix together all of the salad ingredients well (except the lettuce), and season to taste. Mix the lettuce into the dressing ingredients. Evenly put the salad mixture onto two plates, top with croutons and the cooked chicken breasts, sliced. Add any extras you wish, and serve!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Recipe: Lamb and Courgette kebabs, with Red onion and Walnut Couscous

Well I told you i'd be writing up less recipes up on here- and I was dead right! I told the guys at Cosy Club that I was happy to do anything from 15-40 hours (see- nice and flexible!), and this week i've done over 45, and i'm pretty sure i might be doing the same next week. I mean, i am very much thinking about all the money at this point, which is why i am battling with myself whether i should moan about it really. On one hand the more money= the better, and even on 30 hours a week i'll have more than enough, but on the other hand....its LOTS OF MONEYYYYY. But yeah this is killing me man, full-time chef-ing again. I don't know when my next full day off is- last one was last friday and there aint a free in sight yet.....

Anyway only a few months more Mel, stick with it! Last time I had an evening free to myself, I cooked this dish for me and my boyfriend and we both loved it- very tasty and barely takes any time to prepare. The marinade for the lamb can also be used with bigger cuts of lamb to be slowcooked too- the flavours work particularly well with this type of meat. It isnt in the recipe, but I served this with a herby yoghurt- nom!

Lamb, courgette and red onion kebabs, with zesty cous cous

For the Kebabs
250g lamb leg steaks, cut into bitesize chunks
1 lemon (zest set aside for the couscous, ½ juiced for the marinade)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1.5 tsp dried mint
1.5 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp paprika
1 medium sized courgette, sliced

For the Cous cous

2 tbsp olive oil
½ red onion, sliced
2 clove garlic
1 tsp sugar
40g walnuts, chopped
130g couscous
200ml hot vegetable stock
Handful coriander stems and leaves chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra coriander for garnish

1. Place the lamb in a bowl with the lemon juice, olive oil, mint, rosemary, paprika and seasoning. Mix together, and leave in the fridge to marinade for at least 2 hours. Soak 4 wooden skewers in water for at least 15 minutes.
2. Heat up a fan oven to 220C. Thread the marinated lamb and courgette onto the four skewers. Put onto Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, turning once.
3. Meanwhile, put the couscous, lemon zest, walnuts, and coriander into a bowl. Add the vegetable stock and cover for about 5 minutes.
4. Meanwhile in a saucepan fry the onion, garlic and sugar in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Mix into the couscous, fluff up with a fork and season to taste.
5. Remove the skewers from the oven, pour over any juices leftover in the tray and serve with the cous cous and some more fresh chopped coriander.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Recipe: Chicken and Red Wine Casserole

Ugh. Feel a bit down in the dumps since Glastonbury. Yeah, it was fun and everything, i had a lovely time- but I didn't have as much fun as other years i've done. I think it's because it was all so rushed- I didn't get down there to the Babylon Bandstand by 6pm on the friday! Cause I had my last exam on the friday morning. It was literally 3 hour exam, train, bus, GLASTO! I just felt like I hadn't been down there long enough- in 2013 i'm literally not bothering to go unless i can get down there earlier. So, like usual, i drink, smoke and eat far too much on my "festival holiday", and I am always in need of a bit of a detox afterwards. This is a really really healthy dish, really nutritious- full of lean protein and vitamin rich vegetables. I just eat it by itself to be honest, it's tasty and filling enough to not need much else!

Chicken and Red Wine Casserole (serves 4)

500g chicken breasts (3-4 depending on size), diced and seasoned
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
2 celery sticks, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and roughly diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
200ml red wine
200ml vegetable stock
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 red pepper, roasted and diced
80g nice green olives, halved
1 tsp dried rosemary
Salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar
Handful of chopped parsley (for garnish)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. In a saucepan cook the seasoned diced chicken on a high heat for about 10 minutes, or until browned. Set aside.
2. Into the same saucepan, add the extra virgin olive oil, onion, celery and carrots, and cook covered on a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the crushed garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the red wine and cook uncovered for 10 minutes (to allow the alcohol to evaporate). Add all the other ingredients (except the fresh parsley) and the reserved chicken, and stir to combine.
4. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish, cover, and cook in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, garnish with the freshly chopped parsley, and serve!