Monday, February 27, 2012

Recipe: Hoisin Turkey Noodles

This is an absolutely scrummy dish i made tonight, finally got the wok out again since moving into Nick's place (no, wait, it's OUR place now, heehee). Love it, but forgot how annoying it is to clean, considering I think mum cleaned it for me most of the time before. Turkey is really an underestimated meat. Most people will only eat it once or twice a year at Christmas time, but I plan to eat it all year round, because its just as cheap as chicken, it has less fat, and as long as you cook it right, it doesn't end up being dry- which I think is what puts most people off from eating turkey. Throughout this recipe, if you feel that the ingredients are sticking too much to the wok or pan, add a little drizzle more oil and that should loosen it up.

Hoisin Turkey Noodles (serves 2) £1.99 per serving

120g blue dragon hoisin sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sherry
1 tsp curry paste
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp lime juice
Sugar and pepper

3 stacks Sharwoods fine egg noodles
3 tbsp rapeseed, vegetable, or sunflower oil (plus extra for noodles)
120g cooked turkey
80g spring onions, sliced
1 egg, beaten
80g julienned carrots
80g beansprouts
80g frozen peas
Fresh coriander for garnish

1. Boil a pan of water. Cook the noodles a minute less than what the packet instructions tell you- about 2 minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water, and mix in a little bit of oil (this helps to stop the noodles from sticking together later).
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 spring onions and turkey 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 1-2 more minutes, stirring frequently to mix the ingredients well together.
5. Sprinkle the dish with fresh coriander and serve.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Recipe: Sausage and Bean Casserole

This was a really tasty, economical dinner that I made yesterday. I had another portion for my lunch today and froze another portion, which is great- Nick didn't have any of it because he's so fussy how he haw meat. He loves bacon, he loves sausages, but he wont eat it if it's "in" a dish. Honestly- he's as fussy as my little brother sometimes! This is a bit of a Heinz-fest i suppose, but of course i always haved these products in the house. I'm not one of these people that are obsessed with branding on products, but when it comes to baked beans, ketchup, and cream of tomato soup- it just has to be Heinz, otherwise it just tastes weird. I served this just with some brussel sprouts- it doesnt really need mash with it, because theres already potatoes in it.

Sausage and Bean Casserole (serves 3) £1.17 per portion

3 tbsp olive oil
240g (about 8) chipolata sausages, halved or diced into 3rds
Knob of butter
1 white onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp dried thyme
500ml beef stock
1/2 tin Heinz baked beans
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 generous tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp corn flour, mixed with a little water
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. In a casserole pan, cook the sausages over a high heat in 2tbsp of the olive oil, for about 5 minutes (or until browned). Remove them with a slotted spoon and set them aside. Add another tbsp of oil the casserole, along with the onions, garlic and butter, and fry for 5 minutes.
2. Add everything except the corn flour, bring to the boil, cover, and put in the oven for 1 hour. Remove, stir, and put in for another hour.
3. Remove, add the corn flour, stir well, and return to the oven for a final 15 minutes. Season to taste and serve!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Recipe: Scottish Pasties

This is a cheeky little take on the typical cornish pasty- using very similar ingredients in the original cornish recipe, but using haggis instead of lamb! This is a fabulous recipe to make the day after Burn's night, because it's the perfect way of using up any leftover haggis, and any extra swede you may have still. These pastys are really good too, because they can be eaten hot with gravy and veg, or cold as well- just had one cold for my lunch with some of my homemade green bean piccalilli on the side, REALLY nice.

Scottish Pasties (makes 6) 82p per pie!

2 tbsp olive oil
½ white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp thyme
200g finely diced swede
1 carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 potatoes, peeled and finely diced
500ml beef, chicken or veg stock
1 tsp bisto gravy granules
1 tbsp Worchester sauce
200g cooked haggis
Salt and pepper to taste
2 sheets ready rolled Short crust pastry
Milk or egg (for brushing)

1. Sautee the onion, garlic and thyme in the olive oil for five minutes, or until softened. Add the carrots, potatoes, swede, stock , Worchester sauce and bisto, bring to the boil, and cook on a high heat for 20 minutes, stirring often.
2. Remove this mixture from the heat, stir in the haggis, and allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 200C. Roll out the two sheets of pastry. Using a bowl as a guide, cut out two circles out of each sheet. Re-roll the trimmings of pastry until the same thickness, and cut out two more circles.
3. Fill these six circles with a generous amount of the haggis mixture. Fold the pastry over and crimp at the edges, and put on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Poke out a couple of little holes in the top of each pasty, brushed with egg or milk, and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Serve- hot or cold!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Recipe: Quick Thai Yellow Chicken Curry

This is a nice simple recipe, for a quick and very tasty Thai curry. Thai yellow curry is the mildest type of thai curry, much milder than green or red, and in Thai restaurants often potatoes are traditionally added to this dish also. I use Mae Ploy yellow curry paste for this, which is a great brand. I dont think the main supermarkets sell thai yellow paste at the moment- but i'm sure eventually this dish will catch on and there will be enough demand for it so supermarkets will start stocking it- but for now you should be able to find any sort of yellow thai curry paste at your local asian shop. This isn't to be confused with another thai dish known as kaeng lueang or "yellow curry"- which is a very sharp and spicy dish.

Thai Yellow Chicken Curry (serves 3)

2 tbsp olive oil
½ white onion, diced finely
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1 tsp crushed ginger
1 yellow pepper, diced
3 mushrooms, diced
3 baby sweet corn, diced
400g diced raw chicken breast
1 tsp Schwartz Thai 7 Spice mix (mostly made of chilli garlic and ginger powders)
1 rounded tbsp yellow Thai curry paste
1 tin coconut milk
200ml chicken stock
Handful fresh basil (plus extra for garnish)
100g frozen peas
Splash of soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry the onion, garlic and ginger in the oil on a medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the peppers, mushrooms and baby corn, and fry for a further 3 minutes.
2. Add the chicken and thai spice, and cook for a further 4 minutes. Add the coconut milk, thai curry paste and chicken stock, bring to the boil, and cook on a high heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
3. Add the basil and frozen peas, and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring often. Add a splash of soy sauce, season to taste, and serve with some extra basil leaves on top.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Recipe: Pheasant, Mushroom and Leek Casserole

This is what I cooked Nick for Valentines day, although he decided he'd rather spend the night at the pub rather than coming home for dinner! Humph! If i wasnt used to it, i guess i'd be annoyed- but anyway, he bought me a very nice bouquet of flowers for Valentines (I suppose I would be annoyed if he didnt- we live next to a ruddy florist! Lol!!!). Very nice bouquet indeed- not the usual red roses, but a really colourful spring bouquet with red tulips, little daffodils and blue hyacinths- and i love the hyacinths because they make my little desk smell lush! This is the first time i have cooked or tried pheasant- i bought it because it was on offer at Sainsburys- but i must admit I am very pleasantly surprised. So was Nick too actually, who before dinner was determined to say he didn't like pheasant, even though he can't remember ever trying it! You could try this recipe with any other game bird, or even chicken or pork if you prefer.

Pheasant, mushroom and leek casserole (serves 3)

1 tbsp olive oil
40g butter
1 red onion, diced finely
2 thin streaky rashers smoky bacon
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 skinless pheasant breasts, diced
200ml white wine
125g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1 large leek, diced
300ml chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1-2tbsp double cream
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp corn flour, mixed with water
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Fry the red onion, garlic and bacon in a casserole pot for 3 minutes. Add the pheasants and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the wine, and cook for 2-3 minutes in order to burn off most of the alcohol.
2. Add the mushrooms and leeks and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the chicken stock and bay leaf, cover, and put in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove, add cream, mustard and corn flour, and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes.
3. Give the casserole a good stir, and put back into the oven for a final 30 minutes. Remove, season to taste, remove the bay leaf, and serve!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Recipe: Perfect Pizza Margherita

This is a very quick, economic dinner, and it's definitely the best pizzas i've ever been able to make at home. I think the secret is using this new Jus Rol pizza dough, because all the shop bought pizza bases you buy in the supermarkets, are- lets face it- crap. They aren't thin enough, and when they are topped and cooked go too spongy- this ready rolled stuff however works perfectly, you end up with a tasty, thin and crispy pizza base. Its' quite cheap too actually, you get two big sheets of ready rolled pizza dough, and a jar of (very tasty might i add) tomato sauce to top it. This is a basic Margherita pizza, with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, but you can of course use any toppings you like- but take care not to over-top it, otherwise you'll end up with a soggy pizza. This will serve 4 if you serve it with big side salads, but if your just grabbing slices, it'll feed 2 people nicely.

Quick Pizza Margherita (serves 2-4)

2 ripe plum tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Handful fresh basil, chopped (plus extra basil leaves for garnish)
½ tsp crushed garlic
Olive oil (for greasing)
1 sheet Jus Rol pizza dough
½ jar Jus Rol tomato sauce
100g mozzarella, finely diced
Handful black olives, sliced in half
Salt and pepper

1. In a bowl, mix together the tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil, garlic, and a little salt and pepper. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 230C (fan oven- hot!). Place the sheet of ready rolled pizza dough onto a non stick tray that’s been brushed with a little olive oil (to prevent sticking). Spread the dough out a little bit thinner with your fingers, and then fold over the edges (to create the crust). Spread over the prepared tomato sauce.
3. Drain the marinated tomatoes of any excess liquid, and put evenly on top of the pizza along with the mozzarella and olives, season with a little salt and plenty of black pepper, and bake in the oven for 14-16 minutes (until the crust is a dark golden brown).
4. Remove from the oven, cut into slices with a pizza slicer, garnish with some fresh basil and serve!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Recipe: Quick Chicken Curry for One

This is a really quick dish that you can make for lunch, that doesnt require too much preparation or too many ingredients, but you end up with a nice big tasy bowl of sumthin! As explained in the serving size, it is a good meal for one, but you often end up with a fair bit of sauce leftover, so you can save some of the sauce to have later on a baked chicken breast or grilled lamb chop, or you can chuck it into any casserole or stew to add flavour.

Quick Chicken Curry for One (serves 1, with a little extra sauce)

1 tbsp rapeseed oil
½ red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
Handful fresh coriander, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
1 chicken breast, diced into large chunks
1 tsp tomato paste
1 generous tbsp Balti curry paste
½ tin chopped tomatoes
200ml chicken stock
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry the red onion, garlic and coriander in the rapeseed oil for 5 minutes. Add the chicken, tomato paste and curry paste, and cook for a further few minutes, stirring often.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients, and cook on a high heat for 20 minutes, stirring often. Season to taste, and serve with some extra chopped coriander on top!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Recipe: Spicy Bean and Watercress Soup

So I still had another pack of watercress in the fridge that had been in there for aaages and it had to be used up, so I thought I would make another soup again. I have got such a bad cold at the moment, just sniffling and sneezing all over the place, so I thought I would make something a little spicier than i normally would too, so that I could actually taste it properly! However, i felt like i didn't want to make the traditional milky/potato-ey watercress soup, so i decided to be a little experimental and just chuck in loads of bits and bobs from the fridges/ cupboards that needed using up. It turned out to be absolutely delicious, and Nick loved it too (and was surprized by how spicy it was as well!). It is important you try and pick pretty much all the stalks off the watercress- because you want it to wilt in the soup just like baby spinach would- takes about 15-20mins to trim but it's worth it, you can just do it during stage 2 whilst the soup is bubbling on the stove. You can also blend all of the soup if you want it smooth, but this time I wanted a bit of texture.

Spicy Mexican Bean and Watercress Soup (serves 3) £1.30 per portion with bread and butter

1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tbsp butter
1 medium white onion, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp sundried tomato pesto
100g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 medium potatoes, diced
1 tsp cumin
Small handful fresh coriander, chopped finely
1 litre vegetable stock
1 tsp sugar
1 x 215g tin Discovery Mexican Spicy refried beans
75g watercress, trimmed of all stalks
Salt and pepper to taste
Philadelphia or sour cream for garnish (optional)

1. Sautee the onion, celery and garlic with the butter and oil in a pan for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pesto, tinned tomatoes, potatoes, cumin and coriander, and cook for a further 2 minutes.
2. Add the stock and sugar, bring to the boil, and cook on a medium/high heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the refried beans and cook for a further 10 minutes.
3. Add the trimmed watercress, and cook on a high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often. Season to taste, and blend 3 large landlefuls of the soup in a blender (about a third). Return the blended soup to the pan, stir, season to taste, and bring back to the heat. Serve, each bowl garnished with a tsp of Philadelphia or sour cream if you like.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Published: Take a Break My Favourite Recipes Magazine

Hey guys. You know i mentioned a couple of months back about the fact that i might be published in this magazine?? Well, i have been, twice now infact, and have now become a regular contributor! Well, i have at least been published in the past two issues, and know for a fact that i will be published in at least the next two issues, so that all sounds very positive to me. This is a national magazine as well so this is very good news.

Take a Break's My Favourite Recipe magazine is a little recipe magazine, that uses only readers recipes- no professional chefs. Also, for every recipe you get published, you are paid £25, and every "cook's tip" you get published, you are paid £5. I have got my Black bean chilli, Red onion, goats cheese and red pepper tart (they named it "Cheesy Tart"- lol) and my Chickpea and Mushroom rissoles published so far, as well as one of my cook's tips. I also won a £50 prize from them early on when i joined their facebook page, and also have a cookbook on the way as well! It works out as £130 + a cookbook so far, not bad earnings ey??? Plus every issue, if you are published you get the chance to win £500 as well, but i'll never win that one though because it's one of those voting things- its not about how nice your recipe is, just how many of your mates can be bothered to vote for you.

I'll be giving you a shout once i've had a few more recipes published in this mag- this is brilliant publicity for me as a food writer!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Recipe: Sherry Braised Chicken

My mum bought me a massive bottle of sherry for christmas, and I HATE sherry (she knew this, she intended me to use it in cooking too- but i really hope we dont end up running out of booze one night, getting desperate and having to drink it!!). When you cook it though it's fine, because the alchohol burns off and it just usually leaves a nice sweet taste at the end of it. Same with vermouth (which is also gross to drink as well, haha!). I also had loads of asparagus, and leftover roasted chicken drumsticks to use up, so sort of concocted this dish. It sounds a little odd but it's delicious. And good for you too- very rich in iron! You can of course, use less garlic than I have used here, but you guys know what i'm like!

Sweet Sherry Braised Chicken (serves 2)

1 red onion, sliced finely
6 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
Large knob of butter
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp Rogan Josh curry paste
250g cooked diced chicken (preferably dark meat)
200ml sherry
½ tsp dried thyme
300ml chicken stock
12 asparagus spears, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh coriander for garnish

1. Sautee the red onion, garlic and curry paste in the oil and butter for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken and sherry and cook for a further 5 minutes on a high heat (to burn off the alcohol).
2. Add the thyme and chicken stock and cook on a high heat for a further 15 minutes. In the last 4 minutes of cooking, add the asparagus. Season to taste and serve, garnished with a little coriander, and with some buttery mash or steamed rice to soak up the juices if desired!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Published: Pukka magazine, February Issue

Finally I have become a regular recipe columnist!! How wonderfully exciting, this is a great new start for me in the "food writing" world! The magazine is called "Pukka"- it is a free monthly advertising magazine in Bath, that's distributed to over 9000 homes/ businesses/ cafes/ restaurants/ waiting rooms in and around the Bath area. My Patatas Bravas recipe, along with a little intro about me and why I love tapas, was published this month, and I intend to get my Provencal Pasta dish published next month too. Wonderful!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Recipe: Mel's Savoury Rice

Hey guys. Now I call this dish "savoury rice" because the colour, and the smell of it when it's cooking, really reminded me of that Batchelor's savoury rice- do you remember? The instant stuff that came in a packet that you added water to? I wonder if they still sell that any more, i used to quite like it! This dish however, is far superior to that packeted variety! It's sweet, tangy, and chock full of vegetables and chicken. It's perfect for me to eat either before or after a workout, because before the workout it works as a big portion of protein and carbs to fuel my time at the gymn, or after workout its great because usually i'm so hungry- a massive portion of anything is what I want! Maybe slightly defeats the purpose of excercizing to lost weight, if all it does is make me excessively hungry, but never mind!

Mel’s Golden Rice (1-2, depending on personal greed, lol)

80g basmati rice
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
½ onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
Handful fresh coriander, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
6 spears asparagus, diced
½ red pepper, diced
Handful leftover roast chicken (preferably dark meat)
150ml chicken stock
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sweet chilli sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the basmati rice for 9 minutes in a pan of boiling salted water. Drain and set aside.
2. In the same pan, fry the onions, garlic and coriander for 3 minutes in the oil, stirring often. Add the spices, asparagus, red pepper and chicken, and stir fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, soy sauce, honey and sweet chilli sauce, and bring to the boil. Boil for 3 minutes.
3. Add the reserved rice, and stir fry for a further 3 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been soaked up. Season to taste, garnish with a little extra coriander, and serve!