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.