Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Competition: Welsh Lamb's Baafta Competition- Winner!

A couple of months ago Welsh Lamb ran a recipe competition, asking for contestants to enter their favourite welsh lamb recipes, in one of four categories: "Sunday Boast" (your best roast lamb recipe), "Midweek masterpeice" (easy to prepare midweek lamb recipes!), "Welsh Wizardry" (super quick recipes for lamb) or "Cosmopolitan Creation" (exotic lamb recipes from all round the world!). My Lamb and Courgette Kebabs with Couscous recipe won in the welsh wizardry category, with the judges describing it as an "outstanding use of welsh lamb"! I have won a hamper of welsh lamb worth £100, thanks very much, yum yum!!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Recipe: Spinach and Ham Spaghetti

Spaghetti is my favourite sort of pasta, is this is one of my favourite pasta dishes. Spaghetti in a creamy sauce, flavoured with rich spinach, sweet honey roast ham, and topped with delicious tangy camberzola cheese. If you haven't heard of camberzola, it is possibly the best cheese ever invented, it's a cross between camembert and gorgonzola- a perfect combination of soft and blue cheese. If you've never tried it, cart yourself off to a major supermarket or cheesemongers now!!!

Spinach and Ham Spaghetti (serves 2)

20g butter
½ small white onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp mixed herbs
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
120g mushrooms, sliced
300ml buttermilk
100ml strong chicken stock
80g frozen peas
160g honey roasted wafer thin ham, diced
200g spaghetti
200g baby spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
80g camberzola, diced finely

1)      Fry the onion, garlic, mixed herbs, parsley, and mushrooms in the butter for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the buttermilk, and chicken stock, and cook on a high heat for a further 5 minutes.
2)      Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions. Add the peas and ham to the sauce and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for a final 4 minutes. Season to taste.
3)      Drain the spaghetti, return to the pan and add the sauce. Return to the heat and stir until all the ingredients are well combined and the spaghetti has soaked up the sauce. Serve, topped with the diced camberzola.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Recipe: Christmas Biryani

Gawd, I am absolutely stuffed! I actually didn't eat that much on Christmas day, as unfortunately I was working until about 4pm (chef-ing at Hall and Woodhouse feeding about 70 people. I say "unfortunately" but actually us chefs all had a right laugh, was quite good fun), BUT I went completely mental with all the leftovers on boxing day. Scoffing bowls of rum cake and chocolate gateau that my mother in law made, then chocolates, then potato salad, luush! I had leftover turkey from work, and some leftover gammon from mummy in law, and some sad looking vegetables in the fridge, and made this really scrummy dish. You guys might have noticed but I am loving these pouches of instant cooked rice at the moment. I know you are supposed to microwave them but they work really well stir-fried.

Christmas Biryani (serves 3)

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 white onion
3 garlic cloves
½ white cabbage
1 large red pepper
Large handful fresh parsley (plus extra for garnish)
20g mild curry powder
10g turmeric
2 bay leaves
400ml chicken stock
1 generous tbsp chilli jam
125g diced cooked turkey
125g diced cooked gammon
1 x vVeetee Pilau rice pack
Salt and pepper to taste

1)      In a large wok, fry the onion, garlic, cabbage, pepper and fresh parsley for 10 minutes. Add the curry powder, turmeric and bay leaves, and fry for a further couple of minutes. Add the chicken stock and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes.
2)      Add the turkey and gammon and cook for 5 minutes. Add the Veetee rice, and stir fry for about 5 minutes, until everything is well combined, and the sauce has been absorbed by the rice. Season to taste and serve with some extra parsley on top.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Video: Chorizo, Chickpea and Cabbage Soup

Merry Christmas everyone! My new recipe video is up, y'all enjoy!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Recipe: Tuna Paella

This is another entry into Princes Tuna recipe competition- and I reckon this is a real winner!! My boyfriend absolutely loved this. Obviously you would traditionally make paella with prawns and mussels and squid and things, but this is a much easier and cheaper paella to make. It really works well with tuna! I used tilda instant pouches of rice (those ones you are supposed to microwave- but frying it works well).

Tuna Paella
50g butter
1 large red onion, diced finely
2 courgettes, diced finely
1 large red pepper, diced finely
4 garlic cloves
Large handful fresh parsley chopped (plus a little extra for garnish)
20g paprika
20g turmeric
400ml chicken stock
320g frozen peas
4 x 160g tins Princes tin tuna chunks in spring water, drained
4 x 250g pouches instant cook white rice (or 500g dry white rice, cooked and then set aside)
Salt and pepper to taste

1)  In a large wok or paella pan, fry the onion, courgette, pepper, garlic, parsley, paprika and turmeric in the butter for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the chicken stock, and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring often.
2)  Add the peas, tuna, and rice, and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring often, until everything is well combined, and the rice has soaked up all the liquid. Season to taste, and serve with some extra fresh parsley.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Recipe: Key Lime Cheesecake

Key Lime Pie is an american dessert, apparently originally invented by fisherman in the Florida keys (using limes that grow so prevalently there). Instead of the traditional bright green lime filling and meringue topping, i have turned this into a sort of lime-y cheesecake, absolutely delicious. Because of the lime I think it's a really nice pudding, as the tanginess kinda cleanses the palate, as well as being satisfyingly creamy. If you want to make it vegetarian, Dr Oetker have a vegetarian gelatine powder you can buy.

Key Lime Pie (serves 8)

180g shortcake biscuits, crushed/blitzed to a fine crumb
90g butter
15g sugar
600g cream cheese
3 limes, juice and zest (save a little zest to sprinkle over the top when finished)
1 x 4g sachet gelatine powder
150g sugar
150g boiling water
Whipped Cream

1)  Melt the butter in a small saucepan, and mix in the sugar and crumbled biscuits. Spoon into a 23cm loose-based round flan tin, and press mix down firmly. Allow base to chill for about half an hour.
2)  Meanwhile, mix the cream cheese, lime juice and lime zest until well combined. Mix the gelatine powder and sugar with the boiled water until dissolves, and then whisk into the cream lime mixture. Keep beating this mixture until it’s well combined and starts to thicken (this takes a few minutes, but trust me, it does thicken up eventually).
3) Pour creamy mixture on top of the biscuit base. Allow to set in the fridge for at least 8 hours (preferably overnight). Garnish with whipped cream and a little bit of lime zest.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Recipe: Taiwanese Black Bean Noodles

Gosh, this is my absolute FAVOURITE sort of meal. Give me chicken, noodles, in a nice savoury sauce or broth, and I could live on this FOREVER. It's all cooked in one pan (or wok!), it's really quick to make, it's really healthy, and it tastes absolutely gorgeous! I call it Taiwanese because in Taiwan they like to use booze, like wine sherry or beer in their cooking. For this recipe I have used those packs of already cooked and oiled egg noodles that you find in the salad-y stir fry section of the supermarket, but you can pre-cook dried egg noodles and use them if you want to make the recipe cheaper. I was just being lazy to be honest! I am entering this into Health Bay's Healthy recipe competition, as it's low in fat, high in protein, and has 2 of your five a day vegetable portions per serving!

Taiwanese Black Bean Noodles (serves 2-3 depending on personal greed!)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ red onion
6 spring onions, chopped
370g chicken thighs, diced
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
20g finely chopped ginger
120g broccoli florets
1 courgette, diced thickly
120ml white wine or sherry
50ml dark soy sauce
15ml toasted sesame oil
½ tsp hot sauce
135g black bean sauce
100ml water
Bunch of fresh basil, roughly chopped
825g fresh cooked noodles
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Mix together the wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, hot sauce, black bean sauce and water together and set aside. In a large wok, heat the vegetable oil and fry the chicken thighs, garlic and ginger for 3 minutes.
2) Add the broccoli and courgettes and fry for a further 3 minutes. Add the spring onions, fry for a further minute. Add the sauce mixture and cook for 1 minute. Add the fresh basil and noodles, and stir fry for 2 further minutes, tossing the noodles with the rest of the ingredients, until the sauce has thickened up, and the noodles are hot.
3)  Season to taste and serve!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Video: Roast Sweet Potato and Feta Salad

Hi guys, my second recipe video, making a delicious and healthy man-sized salad, feeding 3 for £1.97 per serving! In this video I show you how to make this recipe, and the health benefits of consuming sweet potato, and feta cheese. Full recipe available at: http://chef-mels-kitchen.blogspot.co.uk/2010/03/recipe-sweet-potato-and-feta-salad.html

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Recipe: Chinese Roasted Shoulder of Pork, with Sweet Carrots and Red Onions

Fancy doing something a little different with your Sunday roast? The typical roast pork, crackling and apple sauce, is amazingly lovely when you have a craving for it, but this is something much more unique to do with shoulder of pork, which is a delicious and usually very cheap cut. What's nice is the sauce and the veg all cooks in the pan with the pork, so no flavour is lost in the cooking. I served this with Tilda Coconut Basmati rice, which goes very well with it.

Chinese Roasted Shoulder of Pork, with Sweet carrots and Red onions (serves 4)

1.8kg shoulder of pork
400ml white wine
160g Sainsburys Chinese inspired marinade
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ tsp Chinese 5 spice
10ml toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp honey or golden syrup
100ml strong vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 stick fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1.2 kg carrots, peeled and diced thickly
8 red onions, peeled and diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
20ml light soy sauce
2 tsp cornflour, mixed with a little water

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Mix together wine, marinade, lemon juice, 5 spice, sesame oil, honey, stock, bay leaves, rosemary and black pepper in a mixing bowl. Put the carrots and red onions in a roasting tray, and pour over the sauce.
2. Put the shoulder of pork on top of the vegetables, season with a little salt and pepper, and bake in the oven for 2 hour 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and put the pork aside on a plate to rest a little.
3. Pour the sauce and vegetables from the roasting pan into a saucepan, put onto a high heat and bring the boil. Add the cornflour, and cook for a couple of minutes longer, stirring often, until thickened. Carve the pork, serve with the vegetables and sauce, with rice, noodles or potatoes as desired. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Recipe: Zesty pork meatballs, with Creamy Garlicky Mushrooms

Mmmmm, I love meatballs! I also love using pork mince, I find you can get so much flavour out of it. Rather than the typical Italian style meatballs- with a tomato based sauce and spaghetti, this recipe is a bit more Swedish in style- meatballs in a creamy mushroom sauce instead. I serve this with mash, which I think goes really well, but feel free to serve it with whatever you want- rice, pasta, and crusty bread also works pretty well.

Zesty Pork Meatballs with Creamy garlicky mushrooms (serves 2)

300g pork mince
Zest of 1 lemon
Handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
½ red onion, finely chopped
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp paprika
20g nice strong English mustard
Plenty of black pepper

35g butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
460g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
7 garlic cloves finely chopped
Handful fresh parsley, finely chopped (plus extra for garnish)
¼ tsp mixed herbs
70ml brandy
150ml vegetable stock
150g sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste

1)  Preheat oven to 200C. Mix together all the meatball ingredients together, and shape into 8 meatballs (about 50g each). Place these meatballs on a roasting tray.
2)  Meanwhile, in a medium sized saucepan, fry the mushrooms, garlic, parsley and mixed herbs in the butter and olive oil for 15 minutes. Add the brandy, and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the stock and sour cream, and cook on a low heat for a further 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3)  Meanwhile, roast the meatballs in the oven for 20 minutes. Season the mushrooms to taste, and serve with the meatballs, with mash, rice or pasta as desired, and extra parsley on top for garnish. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Recipe: Pecan Tart

Is this one of the laziest desserts ever invented? Possibly. Could I have fairly easily made my own sweet pastry for this instead of taking short cuts? Probably. Is this one of the most delicious and easy puddings I have ever made? Definitely. 5 minutes to make, 25 minutes to bake, and then just a little bit of cooling time. Perfect for when you have a real sweet tooth, or have friends over and not much time to make something sweet for entertaining! This dessert is really nice served with extra pouring cream over the top.

Pecan Tart (serves 8)
1 X Edlers 195g sweet pastry case
180g pecans, roughly chopped
170g golden syrup
50g sugar
100g butter
50ml single cream

1) Preheat oven to 175C. Melt together all the ingredients (except the pastry case!) in a small saucepan until hot and well combined.
2) Pour pecan mixture into the pastry case. Bake the tart in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool in the fridge for at least an hour. Remove from the foil case, slice and serve!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Recipe: Spiced Potato Filo Pies with Creamy Vegetable Curry

This recipe requires a little multitasking but it's worth it. A delicious crispy filo parcel, with spiced potato filling (a little like a samosa, but lazier, no fiddly shaping
!), with a creamy spicy vegetable curry to go on the side. A little alternative to your classic British pie, gravy and veg! The recipe also works with shortcrust or puff pastry, you just don't need to brush with butter.

Spiced Potato Filo Pies, with creamy vegetable curry (serves 6)

1.5kg potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tbsp olive oil
3 red onions, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
30g fresh coriander, chopped
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp garam masala
200ml vegetable stock
2 packs of Jus Rol Filo Pastry
60g butter

Vegetable Curry
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 green chillies, seeded and diced
3 tbsp Pataks Korma curry paste
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 red pepper
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tin tomatoes
500ml vegetable stock
100ml single cream
250g spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh coriander for garnish

1)      Preheat oven to 180C. In a large saucepan, boil the diced potatoes for 6 minutes, drain and set aside. In a large saucepan, fry the onions, garlic and coriander in the olive oil for 6 minutes. Add the cumin seeds, turmeric, paprika, ground coriander and garam masala, and cook for a further 2 minutes.
2)      Add the potatoes and veg stock, and cook on a medium heat, stirring often, for 12 minutes. Set aside and allow the filling to cool a bit. In another saucepan, fry the red onion, garlic, and green chillies in the oil for 5minutes. Add the curry paste and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the butternut  squash, red pepper, carrots, tinned tomatoes and stock, and cook on a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
3)      Meanwhile, line two baking trays with greaseproof paper. Lay out the two packs of filo, slicing each sheet into three. Spoon the potato filling equally onto the 6 portions of filo, and fold these sheets over and crimp to form individual pies. Place these pies onto the baking trays. Melt the 60g of butter, and brush this generously over all of the pies. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
4)      10 minutes before the pies are ready, add the single cream and spinach to the veg curry. Remove the pies from the oven, season the vegetable curry to taste, and serve the pies with the curry on the side, and some extra coriander. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Recipe: Deliciously Cheap Cottage Pie

Cottage pie is one of my favourite ever dinners. A delicious savoury beefy mince, with a creamy golden mash topping. I like adding leeks or spring onions to mash toppings, gives it a really nice flavour without having to add tonnes of expensive butter to it. Ketchup sounds like a weird ingredient but it sweetens everything up a bit, it's lovely. The trick to economic cooking is to BIG UP the veg and the potatoes/ starchy carbs, which will fill everyone up, instead of using loads more meat is much more pricey. Feel free to use any veg you want, but I find cabbage one of the cheapest vegetables.

Deliciously Cheap Cottage Pie (serves 5)

30g olive oil
450g diced white onions
450g peeled and diced carrots
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
100g basics bacon
500g basics beef mince
300ml beef stock
1 bay leaf
1 tsp mixed herbs
1 tbsp ketchup
20ml Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

1.5kg potatoes, peeled and diced
1 leek, finely sliced
Splash milk
20g golden breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large savoy cabbage, shredded

1)      Fry the onions, garlic, carrots, bacon and mince in the butter on a medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring often. Add the stock, herbs, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and cook on a medium heat for another 15 minutes. Season to taste and pour into a large ovenproof dish.
2)      Preheat the oven to 180C. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in a large saucepan. Drain, and mash with some milk until the right mash consistency is achieved. Mix in the chopped leeks and season to taste.
3)      Smooth the mash over the mince mixture, and make lines on top with a fork.  Sprinkle with breadcrumbs evenly, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Put the cottage pie under a hot grill for a few minutes until the topping is golden.
4)      Just before the pie is finished, boil the cabbage in salted water for 7 minutes, and drain. Serve the cottage pie with the steamed cabbage!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Recipe: Tuna, Green Bean and Pesto Fusilli

My boyfriend absolutely loved this dish- a really light and tasty pasta dish. The sour cream and the dill really go well with the strong tuna flavour. This recipe also works well with different types of pesto, like sundried tomato pesto or spinach pesto- use your favourite!

Tuna, Green Bean and Pesto Fusilli (serves 2)

250g fusilli
250g green beans, trimmed and halved
2 x 160g Princes Tuna Chunks in sunflower oil, drained
2 large tomatoes, finely diced
20g fresh dill, chopped (plus extra for garnish if desired)
300g sour cream
200g green pesto
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the fusilli and cook according to the packet instructions. 8 minutes before the end of cooking time add the green beans.
2) Drain, and return to the pan with all the other ingredients. Cook on a medium high heat for 3 minutes, until everything is hot and well combined. Season to taste, garnish with extra dill if desired and serve!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Recipe: Christmas Cake

It might not look very pretty yet, fairly dark and boring so far, but once it's marzipanned (making up words again Mel...) and iced it'll be lovely. Made this yesterday- a lot of people were saying it was a little late to be making a Christmas cake, but I read that yesterday was traditionally "stir-up Sunday", which is the time when you are supposed to make Christmas cakes? Plan is I'll feed it with some more brandy in 2 weeks time, and then on the 14th I'll ice and marzipan it on a cake board- and then i'll post a pretty picture of it up on this post. It's not for me actually, it'll be part of my Xmas present for the in-laws! Use normal brandy if you cant find cherry brandy- have noticed not as many places sell it any more, bit of an old fashioned tipple I suppose but I love it!

PS, a month later: After icing and decorating looks rather pretty doesn't it? Haha.
Christmas Cake (serves 8)

550g sultanas
Zest of 1 orange, and the juice
Zest of 1 lemon, and the juice
85ml cherry brandy (plus extra for soaking)
140g butter
110g caster sugar
100g plain flour
55g ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder
2.5 tsp mixed spice
55g flaked almonds
4 medium eggs
1 tsp gingerbread syrup (optional, but fabulous)
For later: marzipan, icing, a cakeboard, a ribbon, whatever you fancy for decoration!

1)  In a saucepan, on a medium high heat, cook the sultanas, citrus zest and juice, brandy, butter and sugar for 6 minutes, stirring often. Pour into a mixing bowl and allow to cool for half an hour.
2) Line a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin with greaseproof paper (on the bottom and around the sides). Tie a few layers of newspaper around the tin with string. Preheat the oven to 150C. Mix all the other ingredients into the dried fruit mixture, until everything is well combined. Pour into the cake tin carefully, and smooth the top over with a spoon.
3)  Bake the cake in the oven for 1 hour 45 minutes. Remove, and allow to cool in the tin. Remove from the tin, make a few little holes in the top, and pour 2 tbsp of the brandy on the cake. Put cake in a tin and store in a fairly cool place.
4) Every two weeks up until Christmas, feed the cake with 2 tbsp more brandy, leaving 2 weeks without feeding prior to icing. Cover in marzipan, and then cover in icing. Decorate as desired!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Recipe: Fudge and Chocolate Brownies

Wow. Literally, wow- these brownies are mind-blowing. You all know me, I'm not really that much into baking, and to be honest I'm usually not very successful, haha. But these are so easy- takes 10 minutes to make, 20 minutes to bake, and then a little bit of cooling time. The fudge kinda goes gooey and sinks to the bottom- I'm not sure how to stop them from sinking, but anyway, these brownies are utterly lush. Nice on their own, or also nice served warm with some pouring cream and raspberries as an easy dinner party pud.

Fudge and Chocolate Brownies (makes 20)

150g dark chocolate
60g butter
60ml olive oil
220g caster sugar
5 medium eggs
180g self raising flour
40g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
190g vanilla fudge, diced

1)      Preheat oven to 160C. Line a 33cm by 26cm deep baking tray with greaseproof paper. Put the chocolate, butter, oil and sugar in a heatproof bowl, and place on top of a saucepan of boiling water.  Stir this mixture until the chocolate and butter has fully melted, and everything is well combined.
2)      Remove bowl off the heat, and quickly mix in the beaten eggs. Mix in the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder, until well combined. Pour mix into the lined baking tray. Scatter the fudge over the top. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, remove, and allow to cool for at least 40 minutes.
3)      Slice into 20 portions, and they are ready to serve! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Recipe: Boursin Ham and Sweetcorn Chowder

This is what you really want in Autumn when the weather gets cold- a really nice warming soup- a chowder being a really thick, chunky, creamy soup. You don't need any stock in this recipe, as you get enough salt from the ham and boursin. The potatoes cook down and thicken the milk beautifully, I love this dish so much!

Boursin Ham and Sweetcorn Chowder (serves 6)

30g butter
2 large white onions, finely diced
500g smoked gammon steaks, diced
1 tsp mixed herbs
2 bay leaves
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and finely diced
1.2 litres skimmed milk
2 x 198g can sweetcorn, drained
250g Boursin Cuisine garlic and herb
Salt and pepper to taste
1 leek, finely sliced

1)  Fry the onions, gammon, mixed herbs and bay leaves in the butter in a large saucepan for about 8 minutes. Add the potatoes and milk and cook on a medium high heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2)  Add the sweetcorn and boursin, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season to taste, and serve with some finely sliced leeks on top. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Recipe: Boursin Stuffed Potato Skins

Re-stuffed jacket potatoes are so scrummy- I remember when I was at catering college as part of one of our assessments we had to do re-stuffed potatoes, my lecturer called them "arle potatoes" but I cant seem to find recipes with that name on-line! This is my favourite way of making stuffed jackets, with creamy Boursin and sweetly sautéed leeks. Lovely as a side dish (I had a couple of these with a chicken casserole last time I made 'em), or as a starter with a bit of salad.

Boursin Stuffed Potato Skins (serves 4 as a side dish or starter)
4 jacket potatoes
1 tbsp butter
1 leek, finely sliced
120g boursin cuisine garlic and herb
Salt and pepper
100g grated cheddar

1)      Preheat the oven to 180C. Bake potatoes for 1 hour- 1 hour 20 minutes (depending on size of potatoes), until the baked potatoes are fully cooked in the middle with crispy skins.
2)      Meanwhile, fry the leek in the butter for about 5 minutes until soft, and set aside. Remove the jacket potatoes from the oven, and once cool enough to handle, halve lengthways.
3)      Scoop out the flesh of the potatoes into a mixing bowl. Mix with the boursin, reserved leeks, and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon this mixture back into the jacket potato skins, top with grated cheddar and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Finally, put under a ot grill until the topping has become golden. Serve!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Recipe: Boursin, Turkey and Cranberry Tarts, with Little Gem and Grape Salad

A lovely recipe, ready and waiting for your Christmas foodie celebrations. People are often looking for interesting recipes to use that leftover turkey up- and this is really scrummy. It's a very rich and creamy tart, which is why the fresh and fruity salad on top helps to freshen the palate and balance the dish.

Boursin, Turkey and Cranberry Tarts, with Little Gem and Grape Salad (serves 2)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
¼ tsp mixed herbs
¼ tsp sugar
400g Boursin cuisine garlic and herb
250g leftover roast turkey or chicken, diced
50g cranberry sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry
1 little gem
80g red grapes, halved

1) Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Cut the sheet of ready rolled puff pastry in half. On each half, fold borders around the edges, and prick the middle several times with a fork. Place these tarts onto the lined tray
2)  Fry the onion with the oil and the sugar and mixed herbs for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix the boursin, roast meat, cranberry sauce and salt and pepper until well combined. Portion the topping evenly on both tarts. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
3) Mix together the little gem and grapes. Remove the tarts from the oven, transfer tarts to plates, and top with the salad. Serve!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Recipe: Tropical Baked Cheesecake

My first go at a baked cheesecake, it's very nice, and a little bit different! Feel free to use a passionfruit coulis or other coulis on top instead if you want- the cheesecake definitely needs a sweet topping.

Tropical Cheesecake (serves 8)

180g digestive biscuits
90g butter
30g sugar
300g full fat cream cheese
200g ricotta
3 eggs
70g sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 passionfruit, pulp scooped out.
1 tbsp golden syrup, or honey

1)   Preheat the oven to 160C. Crush the digestive biscuits (in a food processor or by hand with a pestle and mortar). Melt the butter, and mix the digestive biscuits and sugar into the butter. Press the mixture firmly and evenly into a loose bottomed 20cm tin.
2)  Mix together the cream cheese, ricotta, egg, sugar and lime until well combined. Pour on top of the biscuit base, and bake in the oven for 1 hour 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
3)  Remove the cheesecake from the tin carefully. Mix together the passionfruit and golden syrup, and pour on top of the cheesecake. Serve! 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Video: Spaghetti with Courgettes and Almonds

Hi Guys, so I have started my own youtube channel! It is my idea to show the world that it is possible to create healthy meals, on a strict budget. The recipes will be from this blog, will always cost less than £2 a portion, and will be healthy! In each video I will also explain the health benefits of a couple of ingredients that I use in the dish! I'll be the next Jamie Oliver, you wait, haha!!
I hope to see some of you following, and I hope that these videos become popular and enjoyed by all!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Recipe: Creamy Boursin, Broccoli and Blue Cheese Farfalle

Got another load of produce from Bel to develope recipes with. absolutely fantastic. Brimming with scrummy ideas for new dishes! This dish is so moreish. and plays on the classic combination of blue cheese and walnuts, perfectly complimenting the garlicky creamy boursin. In this dish I use Boursin "cuisine", which is boursin caterers buy in 1kg tubs, it is very similar to normal garlic and herb boursin, but with a looser consistency- if using normal boursin in this recipe, i reccomend saving 100ml of the starchy pasta cooking water before draining, and adding this water at stage 2.

Creamy Boursin, Broccoli and Blue Cheese Farfalle (serves 2)

225 farfalle
440g broccoli florets
350g Boursin Cuisine Garlic and Herb
125g leftover roast chicken
70g blue cheese, finely diced
Salt and pepper to taste
60g walnuts, roughly chopped

1)      Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Boil the farfalle according to instructions, adding the broccoli to the pan 4 minutes before the end. Drain and set aside.
2)      Put the cooked pasta/broccoli, boursin cuisine, chicken and blue cheese in a large saucepan on a high heat. Stir until the blue cheese has melted, and everything is well combined. Season to taste and serve, with the chopped walnuts on top.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Recipe: Bobotie

Bobotie is one of South Africa's most famous dishes- although I'm sure a lot of us Brits have never heard of it. It is a curry spiced beef mince, topped with a baked savoury egg topping. If i could compare it to anything else, perhaps it is a little like a moussaka- but to be honest this dish is very unique, you just have to try it for yourself. It does sound odd but it is absolutely delicious. Alike meatloaf, it is also fabulous eaten cold the next day/ in sandwiches. Mind you, when I made this for me and my boyfriend it was just too good, there weren't any leftovers, ha-ha.

This was my mother in laws proper version that Marina made when we were on holiday in the Isle of Wight, the recipe is based on the recipe she described to me, probably with a few little differences:
And heres' my attempt at it! I'm not sure, but i think i'd make a good ol' springbok, haha :)
Bobotie (serves 3)

1 thick slice white bread
25g butter
1 red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500g beef mince
20g curry powder (I used Schwartz Mild Curry Powder- if possible use South African Raja curry powder for a more authentic flavour)
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp mixed herbs
2 bay leaves
Pinch mixed spice
1 ripe banana, diced
40g raisins or sultanas
20g desiccated coconut
Salt and pepper to taste
3 medium eggs
200ml whole milk (plus a little extra for soaking)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oven to 190C. Pour milk over bread and leave to soak, and pour some water over raisins to soak. In an ovenproof casserole pot, fry onions and garlic in the butter for 6 minutes. Add the curry powder and turmeric, and fry for a further minute.
2. Add the beef and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the banana, soaked raisins, desiccated coconut, bay leaves, bread (squeeze the excess milk off and tear into the mix), mixed herbs and cook for a further 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, take off the heat, season to taste, and press the beef mixture down evenly, and allow at least 2 hours for the beef mixture to cool and settle.
3. Mix together the eggs and milk (and a little salt and pepper), and pour over beef mixture. Bake in oven for 40 minutes, and then grill for 2 more minutes until the topping is golden. Serve, with yellow rice and your favourite chutney (I served it here with a sweet pepper and chilli chutney)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Recipe: Caramel Nut Slices

Gosh this recipe is just so easy to make it's silly. Less than 5 minutes to prepare, 26 minutes to bake, and 1 hour cooling time, an emergency tray-bake! Feel free to use different nuts and seeds if you want, but walnuts are my favourite nut, and I also love to use cashews- because I don't think we use cashews enough in British baking/puddings, I mean the Indians use it in almost all their desserts, and I reckon we should follow suite.

Caramel Nut Slices (makes 12 slices)

240g plain flour
95g soft brown sugar
160g butter (or low fat spread)
25ml semi skimmed milk
¼ tsp mixed spice
270g Carnation caramel
110g walnuts, roughly chopped
60g cashews (plus an extra handful to scatter over)
50g plain flour

1)  Preheat oven to 200C. Rub the butter into the plain flour and sugar until you get a fine crumb. Line a 36cm by 24cm shallow tray with greaseproof paper. Mix in the milk, and then press the mixture firmly and evenly into the lined tray. Bake in the oven for 18 minutes.
2)  Remove from the oven. Mix together the caramel, walnuts, cashews and flour, and smooth over the base evenly. Scatter with more cashew nuts, and bake in the oven for a further 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tray (for at least 1 hour). Remove from the tray and slice into 12 rectangular slices. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Recipe: Char-grilled Chicken Thighs, with Cox Apple and Carrot Salad, and Turmeric Rice

I was inspired to make this dish by visiting the Apple Day celebration market at Green Park Station in Bath this weekend. It's part of this event going on all around my town, called "The Great Bath Feast"- which in fact I was involved in at Hall and Woodhouse, arranging an ale tasting pairing foods like cheesecake, cheddar and pork pies with different beers. There were lots of apple themed fun things going on, nice stalls and information on different varieties- I decided on cox apples for my salad because they are crisp, sweet but still tangy. The chicken and salad work very well as barbecue recipes- although somehow I think it will be a fair few months before we are outside heating up the barbies again!!

Char-grilled Chicken Thighs, with Cox Apple and Carrot Salad, and Turmeric rice

4 or 5 skinless chicken thighs (depending on size)
50g 0% fat Greek style natural yoghurt
30g Pataks Korma Curry Paste
15g ginger paste
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

4 carrots, peeled and grated
2 cox apples, cored and finely diced
15g ginger paste
35g fresh coriander, finely chopped
50g House of Chilli’s Sweet pepper and chilli chutney (or use your favourite tomato/ chilli chutney)
25ml cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

160g long grain rice
½ tsp turmeric
3 bay leaves

1. Marinade the chicken thighs in the yoghurt, curry paste, ginger, garlic and salt and pepper in the fridge for at least 20 minutes (the longer you leave it, the better it is!). Preheat the oven to 200C.
2. Mix together all the salad ingredients and set aside. Meanwhile, put a griddle pan on a high heat. Grill the marinated chicken thighs for 5 minutes each side, and then put in the oven for 10 minutes to ensure they are cooked the whole way through.
3. Meanwhile, bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the turmeric, bay leaves and rice and cook according to the packet instructions. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Chorizo and Chicken Jambalaya

I think I explained on a previous post, about a year ago with my "easy jambalaya recipe", what a jambalaya is- basically an American deep south version of a risotto essentially! I have made this jambalaya using chorizo, instead of the andouille sausage that traditionally would be used. This is essentially the perfect midweek meal- all cooked in the same pot, takes 5 minutes to prep, and less than half an hour to cook. Really cheap to make too- I mean the chorizo is a little pricey but the other ingredients are as cheap as chips.

Chorizo and Chicken Jambalaya (serves 2)

25g butter
1 red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
1 celery stick, finely chopped
Large handful fresh coriander (plus extra for garnish)
130g chorizo, sliced
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp mixed herbs
170g long grained rice
700ml chicken stock
230g tin chopped tomatoes
110g leftover roast chicken
1 green pepper, seeded and sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry onions, garlic, celery, coriander and chorizo in the butter for 7 minutes. Add the chilli flakes, smoked paprika, mixed herbs and rice, and fry for a further 1 minute, coating the rice in the lovely chorizo oils and spices.
2. Add the stock, tinned tomatoes and chicken, and cook on a medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring often. 10 minutes before the end of cooking, add the green peppers. Season to taste, and serve with extra fresh coriander on top. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Recipe: Spicy and Sweet Tamarind Chicken Curry

Made this for my boyfriend yesterday and he said this was the nicest curry I have ever made him! Tamarind is a fruit, used a lot in Indian and Arabic cuisine, that has a sweet and very tangy flavour. You may think you have never tried it, but as a sign of our old British empire, you will find tamarind in both HP sauce and Worcestershire sauce! You can find tamarind paste in the world section of most supermarkets, or in an Asian shop. Feel free to use less garlic if you want, and more hot sauce if needed- make it as spicy or as mild as you like!

Spicy and Sweet Tamarind Chicken Curry (serves 2)

25g butter
1 red onion, peeled and diced
8 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
2 large handfuls fresh coriander, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
15g ginger paste
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp paprika
90g Pataks Korma Curry Paste
400ml chicken stock
250g coconut cream
30g tamarind paste
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 tsp of your favourite hot sauce (I used House of Chilli Hot Habanero Heaven chilli sauce)
2 bay leaves
250g leftover roast chicken, diced
Salt, sugar and pepper to taste

1)      Fry onions, garlic, 1 handful of the fresh coriander, and ginger, in the butter for 6 minutes. Add the turmeric, paprika and curry paste, and cook for a further 2 minutes.
2)      Add the stock, coconut cream, tamarind, chopped tomatoes, bay leaves and hot sauce, and cook on a low medium heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
3)      Add the other handful of coriander and the roast chicken, and cook for a further 10 minutes on a medium heat, stirring often. Season to taste, and serve with rice and extra coriander on top if desired.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Recipe: Chocolate and Almond Cake

Back to my baking again, hoorah! Want to bring nice things in for my boys in the kitchen, I kinda enjoy baking, and have really been indulging in my sweet tooth lately. I've given up coffee recently, just because I reckon it makes me over-anxious/hyper, so have been having hot chocolate or herbal teas instead. A result of this is now I'm addicted to chocolate- something I've never really been bothered much about before! When it comes to baking though, I like to keep it simple, and I don't have a mixer (or room for a mixer for that matter!), so everything is done by hand.

Chocolate and Almond Cake (serves 8)

100g margarine
200g light brown sugar
2 medium eggs
80ml evaporated milk
75ml skimmed milk
¼ tsp almond extract
30g cocoa powder
180g self-raising flour

65g margarine
20g cocoa powder
225g icing sugar
40ml evaporated milk
¼ tsp almond extract
20g flaked almonds

1)      Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line (with greaseproof  paper) 2 x 18cm round cake tins Cream together the butter and sugar. Mix in the eggs, evaporated milk, skimmed milk and almond extract, until well combined.
2)      Add the cocoa powder and flour and beat until everything is well combined and the mixture is nice and silky. Pour the cake mix evenly into the tins, and bake in the oven for 38 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then remove from the tins and cool on a cooling rack for at least 20 minutes.

3)      Mix together all the icing ingredients (except almond flakes) until a smooth thick icing is made. Spoon about 3 tbsp of the icing to sandwich the two cakes together, and then spread the rest of the icing on top and around the cake. Top with the flaked halves, and its ready to eat!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Recipe: Tuna, Asparagus and New Potato Salad, with Perfect Poached Egg!

Continuing on the healthy and light theme, this is a fantastically healthy salad. Large portion certainly, as I've said in previous entries when I make a salad it is a "MAN SALAD", not a Kate moss sized couple of lettuce leaves and a fork full of alfalfa sprouts or something. But still very healthy- it has 4 portions of vegetables in it, and a good source of lean protein from the tuna and egg. I've entered this into a competition Princes are running at the moment too- They are basically running a competition until September next year- every month there is a winner of a hamper, and at the end of the year, those 12 winners are then judged, the grand winner gets £5000!!! Would be amazing to win that sorta cash. Straight to South Africa on holiday for me I reckon!

Tuna, Asparagus and New Potato Salad, with Perfect Poached Egg! (serves 1)

1 x 160g can Princes Tuna Chunks in Sunflower oil, drained
220g new potatoes, halved
250g asparagus spears, cut into thirds
65g Mixed salad (spinach, watercress and rocket works well)
1 medium egg

25g chilli jam
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste

1)  Bring a small pan of salted water to the boil. Boil the new potatoes for 15 minutes, adding the asparagus to the boiling water 4 minutes before the potatoes are done. Drain, and set aside.
2)  Place the salad on the plate, top with the cooked new potatoes and asparagus, then top with the tuna. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients, season to taste, and pour over the salad.
3)  Bring the pan of water to the boil again, and then lower the temperature to a steady simmer. Stir the water round with a spoon, and crack the egg in. The egg should take about 2 minutes for a perfect poach!
4) Top the salad with the poached egg, and serve! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Competition: Chef Mel's Kitchen Competition Winner

And the long-awaited winner is....Linda Doyle, with her Carrot and Walnut Cake recipe! Congratulations! I felt that the recipe was well written, easy to follow, and when i made it, absolutely delicious.
Winner: Carrot and Walnut Cake, Linda Doyle
325g plain flour
225g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
225g dark brown sugar
4 medium eggs, at room temperature
330ml stork liquid or 300ml vegetable oil
450g carrots, grated
85g walnut or pecan pieces, roughly chopped
A few walnut halves for decorating the top
2x 23 x 5cm round cake tins, lined and greased.

Ingredients for cream cheese frosting:-
340g cream cheese, slightly softened
85g butter, slightly softened
340g icing sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1)      Preheat your oven to 190c – gas 5. With a wooden spoon or spatula combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, and cinnamon and put to one side.
2)      Place the brown sugar in a mixing bowl and using a either a spatula or wooden spoon combine the eggs one at a time, then add the  stork liquid and whisk.
3)      Add the dry ingredients a little at a time and whisk then fold in the carrots and nuts mixing well. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 40-50 minutes.
4)      Test with a wooden toothpick in the centre of the cake until it comes out dry. Let the cakes stand for 10 minutes in the tins, then turn out and place on a cooling rack until completely cool.
5)      Put butter and cream cheese in a bowl and mix well together with a wooden spoon. Add the icing sugar. If the frosting looks a little dry add the vanilla a little at a time. Sandwich the 2 layers together with a little of the frosting, then using the remainder cover the complete cake.

Tip: If you are using it as a special occasion cake you can wrap and freeze the layers for about month to 6 weeks.  Serves 12- 16

Linda- (pahaha, I'm sorry, mine doesn't look as good as yours!!) this was my attempt at your recipe, it went perfectly until I went to make the icing, and I realised the only icing sugar I had in the cupboard was ancient (I don't do much baking at home!) and most of it was rock hard, so the resulting icing had to be made with less icing sugar, hence the looser consistency!!
You'll be happy to know however, that as well as me, my boyfriend, and my parents loving this cake, I also brought half of it to work, and three of the chefs I work with (and my restaurant manager, lol) thought it was absolutely delicious- so Linda you are very much a deserving winner! I will be in touch to sort out your prizes. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Competition: Chef Mel's Competition Finalists

Hi everyone. I would just like to say how pleased I am with the number of fantastic entries I have received for my recipe competition, and also I would really like to state how high quality and professional the majority of the recipes looked- certainly of chef quality, with precisely written and easy to follow recipes too. Here are my favourites that I'd love to show you, I have cooked these all myself now (well, I had to use chicken instead of squirrel in Denese's recipe, sorry!!) , and out of these entries I will be picking a winner tomorrow:

Burbuqe Thaci's Stuffed Saffron Chicken and Corn

Denese Smith's Squirrel Confit 

Denese Smith's Eggplant Lasagne

Eva Vida's Hungarian Savoy Cabbage Bake

Shauna Havey's Tomate Farcies (French stuffed tomatoes)

Amber Saleem's Spiced Stuffed Buns

Linda Doyle's Carrot and Walnut Cake