Saturday, May 30, 2015

Recipe: Cheese Fondue

Now this isn't just a recipe, this has now become a Booth family tradition! What tradition I hear you say? Well, every year, mum makes a big big cheese fondue, and we all watch the Eurovision song contest! Have introduced Brendan to this phenomenon- as a south african he had actually never heard of it, and so I've had to show him Eurovision and explain us Brits actually used to be good at it, Haha.  Fondues are great for parties, because it's a social meal where everyone dips bits and bobs in. You will need a proper fondue set for this- it cant be made with one of those little ones with candles.

Cheese Fondue (serves 4)

1 clove garlic
150ml white wine
1 tsp lemon juice
285g emmental, grated
285g gruyere, grated
1 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp kirsch
¼ tsp paprika
Bread and crudité vegetables to dip in.

1)      Rub the inside of the fondue pan with a halved clove of garlic. Light the fondue flame on low, and heat the wine and lemon juice for about 5 minutes, or until it starts to boil. Add the emmental and gruyere, and stir often until cheese has melted.
2)      Once the cheese mixture is melted and bubbling, mix the cornflour together with the kirsch and then mix into the cheese mix. Continue to cook the fondue for about another 5 minutes, or until a desired consistency is mixed.
3)      Test the fondue thickness with a chunk of bread- if it’s too thin, you can thicken it with more cornflour, or if it’s too thick you can thin it out with a bit of wine. Serve with bits and bobs to dip in!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Recipe: Chicken and Bacon Lasagne

I love a good lasagne- me and Brendan can polish off (and i'm not joking) KILOS of any sort of pasta bake between us. Really Man vs Food portions when it comes to us. I have been eating a little unhealthily lately, just pure laziness and working a lot i guess- literally the other day all i ate was 1/2 a side portion of fries, 1/2 a chicken breast and then two bowls of Bombay mix when i got home from work. Imagine if i'd had to assess that as a diet diary for uni, my god! So i wanted something hearty, but with veg and bit healthy too- so this fit the bill. A fresh, saucey, tomato-ey lasagna- little bit different. This only takes about 15 minutes to prep and 35 minutes to bake too, which is quicker than a normal lasagne.

Chicken and Bacon Lasagne (serves 3)

Meat sauce
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
1 tsp dried rosemary
150g smoked back bacon, diced
700g tinned chopped tomatoes
20g fresh basil, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
1 cooked chicken breast, diced
Salt, sugar and pepper to taste

Cheese sauce
50g wild garlic butter (or use 45g butter, 2 cloves minced garlic, and a large pinch fresh parsley)
40g plain flour
500ml semi skimmed milk
80g finely grated parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

250g fresh lasagne sheets
50g emmental, grated

1)      Preheat oven to 180C (fan oven). In a saucepan, fry the onion, rosemary and bacon in the olive oil for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the tinned tomatoes, basil, and cooked chicken, and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring often. Season to taste and set aside.
2)      In another saucepan, heat the butter until melted. Add the flour, cook for a couple of minutes, and gradually add the milk to make a smooth white sauce. Melt in the parmesan, wait until everything is nice and smooth and thickened, season to taste and set aside.
3)      Time to layer the lasagne! In a large baking dish, start with a third of the tomato sauce mix. Then add a third of the lasagne sheets, then a third of the white sauce. Repeat twice, making sure the last layer is the white sauce. Top with the grated emmental, and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
4)      Allow the lasagne to “rest” for about 5 minutes, and then serve, with salad on the side and some extra basil on top if desired. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Recipe: Wild Garlic Chicken Kievs, with Saucy Vegetables

I've never made chicken kievs from scratch before, this is the first attempt and they turned out pretty good! I think i need to be a bit braver in terms of stuffing as much butter into the pocket as I can, but other than that these turned out absolutely delicious. Couldn't believe I was "pane-ing" (french for bread-crumbing) at home on my day off- i have to pane stuff at work all the time (we make scotch eggs from scratch and they are a big seller) and it really annoys me, haha. I have used wild garlic butter (recipe on the blog), but if you have no wild garlic, just mix 60g butter with a clove minced garlic and a generous pinch chopped fresh parsley.

Wild Garlic Chicken Kievs, with saucy vegetables (serves 2)

2 large chicken breasts (or 4 smaller ones)
60g wild garlic butter, (fridge temperature)
100g flour
3 eggs
160g dry breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

320g frozen mixed vegetables (I used a mix of green beans, peas, carrots and sweetcorn)
100g black olives, sliced
400g passata
100ml strong vegetable stock
1 tsp mixed herbs
1 tsp mel’s spice blend (mix of ground toasted fennel seeds, caraway seeds and dried chilli)
Salt and pepper

1)      Preheat oven to 180C (fan oven). With a knife, making an incision at the thick part at the top of the chicken breast, make a large pocket in the middle of the chicken breast (taking care that you don’t cut through completely). Push the garlic butter generously into the chicken breasts.
2)      Lay the breasts on a plate and cover with flour (seasoned with salt and pepper). Crack the eggs into a bowl, whisk and season. Pour the breadcrumbs onto another plate/ bowl and season. Coat the breasts in the flour, dip in the egg, and coat in the breadcrumbs. Coat them again in the egg and breadcrumbs (this in the cheffy world is called a “double pane”).
3)      Place kievs on a baking tray (lined with greaseproof paper) and bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, put all the vegetable ingredients in a saucepan and cook on a medum heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4)      Remove the kievs from the oven, season the veg to taste, and serve!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Review: Hope and Anchor pub, Midford (near Bath)

Meal at the Hope and Anchor

I would like to start this review as I mean to go on, by stating that this place is bloody fantastic. Before reading the whole of the review, I can tell you straight away- AMAZING food, friendly service, with a lush atmosphere. This isn’t the first time I have been here, I have visited here many many times and it has always been perfection. The Hope and Anchor is a country pub situated in Midford, which is about a 10 minute drive from Bath, or an absolutely lovely 1 hour 15min (ish!) walk from Oldfield park, along a lovely walking/cycling route called the Two Tunnels. You can cycle here from Bristol or radstock along this path as well if you’re feeling like a bit of a workout before your meal!

Myself, my boyfriend, and my boyfriend’s parents had a lovely walk from our house in Oldfield park on Sunday to this place (picking wild garlic on the way!). We booked a few days ahead (crucial with this place- they are very popular on Sundays and for good reason!) for an indoor seat as we weren't sure how good the weather would be. We arrived at 1:30 and were seated very promptly (noticing it was incredibly busy!).
The menu is very large actually, which would normally make me a little suspicious in a gastro-pub- a lot of them have humungous menus and unfortunately what that means is that a lot of the dishes are created from pre-prepared, frozen items. However, everything here is made fresh, and good old proper country pub classics- fishcakes, pies, sausage and mash etc. On a Sunday theres lots and lots to choose from, the lunch menu, a dinner menu, specials, and of course a proper Sunday roast options (usually a couple of choices of meat- this Sunday it was roast beef or roast pork). I went for one of the specials menu for starter, which was chicken liver parfait with homemade chutney, toast and salad.

I will warn those of an average appetite that the starters here are HUGE! Almost main course sized! This suites me as many of you know I have a humongous appetite, but it’s a good point to note. My parfait was gorgeous, smooth and flavoursome, with a well-made mellow chutney. My boyfriend had the nachos with salsa/guacamole/sour cream/chillies, and I noticed they even make their own nachos here which is pretty cool! My dad in law had the whitebait which looked nice and crispy, and my mum in law had the deep fried camembert with red onion chutney and salad, which I’ve had before it’s lush. It’s available as a main course for vegetarians too- I should also note that this pub caters really well for vegetarians, which is laudable for a country pub, as often the attitude is “we’re in the countryside, we’re farmers and hunters, what the hell is a vegetarian???” or “oh I’ve heard about vegetarians- just offer them a ratatouille that’ll do” but this definitely isn’t their style.

For mains I had another dish on the specials menu, lamb shoulder with creamy mash and redcurrant gravy (with seasonal vegetables). The lamb was tender, on mounds of really smooth, correctly seasoned mash, and the veg (carrots, broccoli, fennel and red cabbage) was not overcooked. Very delicious, and there was a nice gap between starter and main (I’d like to say It is a pet peeve of mine when your starters leave the table and almost immediately your mains arrive- I hate this, I want time for the starters to “settle”, and time to socialise with friends and family! I know restaurants like to do it, as it’s all to do with profit and re-seating tables, but a meal isn’t about eating your grub and getting outta there now is it!). My father in law had the steak and ale pie, which he says was the best he had ever had (and he often orders this in restaurants), and my mother in law had pork with a paprika and blue cheese sauce and loved it. They did something special for my boyfriend which I thought was nice- now my fella LOVES his burgers. He has had the burger here before which he says is great and tried ordering it again, only to be told it had sold out- oh No! He didn’t fancy anything on the main or specials menu (don’t ask me why, he has quite…specific tastes I suppose), so he asked for something on the kid’s menu (scampi and chips!) to be made a main course for him, which they were more than happy to do for him. The scampi and chips looked homemade and lovely too.
Throughout all this the service was lovely. I was just drinking orange and lemonade, as I’ve been t total for a while, but my father in law had a couple of pints of Doombar (a fairly local ale) and my mother in law had a couple of glasses of sauvignon blanc which she said went very well with the meal.

At this stage, I’m not going to lie, I was absolutely stuffed. Still, I had to look at the dessert menu, and just COULDN’T resist having the pecan tart with cream. OH MY GOD YUM!!! Homemade PERFECTLY cooked pastry (no soggy bottoms here!), sweet toffee like sauce with toasted pecans and fresh cream. I barely had any room for it but I managed it! As it was so busy, and because me and my fella are nosy chefs, we asked them how many people they had working in the kitchen. They said “usually three, but we are a man down today- we’re also a man down out the front too”. We were absolutely flabbergasted! I mean over the lunch period they must have been doing over 100 covers, at a minimum, probably over 150 over the whole time, doing everything homemade, with only two chefs in the kitchen and only three waitresses! Insane! We thought, bravo, we will definitely be giving them a good tip. When the bill arrived we were even more surprised- only £122!! And we’re talking 4 of us, having two alcoholic drinks each, and three of us having three courses. Such insanely good value for money this place (I think if this was a gastro pub in the middle of bath you’d be paying over £200), for just the most amazing food. We made sure we tipped well, asking them to make sure the chefs got a share (haha!) and left for a lazy walk home. I will finish this by saying customer service 10/10, food 10/10, value 10/10, atmosphere 10/10. If you are anywhere vaguely near this place, VISIT IT!!! 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Recipe: Princes Tuna Pizza

Another entry into Princes recipe competition, if they'll accept it that is (cant find any of the competition code tins anywhere!). Dont often get tuna on many Italian pizza menus but it works very well and is good for a budget. Feel free to make your own pizza dough, for a very economical meal, or if you feel like cheating, Jus Rol make a fantastic pre-made ready rolled dough.

Tuna Pizza (serves 2)

175g pizza dough (ready made or homemade), rolled out into a thin rectangle
100g passata
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp oregano
Salt pepper and sugar
Knob of butter
1 white onion, sliced
2 x 160g tin Princes tuna chunks in spring water, drained
Handful of black olives
65g fresh buffalo mozzarella, diced
65g grated mozzarella

1) Preheat oven to 200C. Line a lone baking tray with greaseproof paper, and lay the pizza dough on it. Mix the passata, garlic powder, oregano and season to taste. Spread on the base of the pizza.
2) In a small saucepan or frying pan, fry the onion in the butter for 5 minutes, or until beginning to colour. Top the pizza with the fried onions, the tuna, olives, and then finish with the diced fresh mozzarella and the grated mozzarella.
3) Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and serve with desired accompaniments (wedges and mayo to dip the crusts in works well!)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Recipe: Pecan and Coconut Chocolate Brownies

I made these marvels for a work friend that's moving into her new house as a present- she's more than happy with these I can tell you, as am I! Not a very long ingredient list and it's not very fussy- does take a little bit of time, as you have to wait for the icing to cool and thicken whilst the brownie cools, but it's all worth the wait.

Pecan and Coconut Chocolate Brownies (makes 12 large brownies)

300g dark chocolate, broken into bits
200g butter
300g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
100g pecans, roughly chopped

125g dark chocolate, broken into bits
75g butter
75ml milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
150g icing sugar
30g desiccated coconut

1)      Preheat oven to Fan oven 160C. In a bowl above a saucepan of boiling water, melt the dark chocolate and butter. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract.
2)      Next beat in the flour and chopped nuts. Once the butter and chocolate are melted and fully mixed, pour into the mixing bowl and mix until all ingredients are well combined. Line a 28cmx33cm with greaseproof paper. Pour the brownie mix into the lined tray and bake for 30 minutes.
3)      Remove brownie from the tin and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, in bowl (the same bowl if you want) melt the dark chocolate and butter over a pan of boiling water. In a separate bowl, mix together the icing sugar, milk and vanilla extract until smooth. Mix in the melted butter and chocolate, and put in the fridge for 40 minutes to become thick enough to form an icing.
4)      Spread the icing over the cooled brownies, sprinkle with the desiccated coconut, and cut into squares. Ready to eat, yum! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Recipe: Homemade Tuna Burgers with Potato Wedges

Like your burgers? Well these burgers are a little bit different. A cross between a fishcake and a burger patty I suppose! Very yummy though. The spiced herby wedges and spicy relish are great accompaniments to the tuna as well. 

Homemade Tuna Burgers with Potato Wedges (serves 4)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 x 160g Princes tinned tuna chunks in sunflower oil, drained
90g white bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs
1 medium egg
30g grated parmesan
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
4 x burger buns

1.3kg potatoes, sliced into thin wedges
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp mixed herbs
Salt pepper and sugar
3 tbsp olive oil

2 tomatoes, finely chopped
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 tbsp brown sauce
2 tbsp tomato passata
Splash hot sauce (optional)
Salt sugar and pepper

1)      Preheat oven to 180C. Parboil the potato wedges in boiling water for 5 minutes, drain, and add to a roasting tin. Mix with all the other wedges ingredients and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
2)      Meanwhile, fry the onion and pepper in 1 tbsp olive for 6 minutes, until softened. Transfer this to a mixing bowl and set aside. Put the 2 tins of tuna and an egg into a food processor, and blitz until smooth.
3)      Mix the tuna mixture with the onion and pepper mix, breadcrumbs, parmesan and some salt and pepper. Once mixed, form into 4 equal sized burgers. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan, and fry the burgers 5 minutes each side (on a medium high heat).
4)      Mix together all the relish ingredients and season to taste. Slice the burgers, place the burgers in the bun, and serve with the relish and wedges. Delicious!!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Recipe: Pollo en Pepitoria with Roasted Garlicky Potatoes

Pollo en Pepitoria is a dish you may not have heard of- it is a traditional Spanish dish- chicken, in a saffron spiced sauce, that's thickened with egg yolks and almonds. Really really delicious, vaguely reminiscent of a Korma I suppose, but not as "curry" tasting". It goes so perfectly with this potato side dish too. Not the healthiest of dinners i suppose (wheres the vegetables!?!) but my god it's good.

Pollo en pepitoria with roasted garlicky potatoes  (serves 2)

4-6 chicken thighs (depending on size!)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Knob of butter
1 white onion, diced finely
4 cardamom pods, podded and seeds crushed a bit
¼ tsp mixed spice
1 bay leaf
100ml white wine or sherry
300ml hot chicken stock
Pinch saffron
1 tbsp double cream
2 egg yolks
60g ground almonds
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste
25g pine nuts, toasted (for garnish- optional)

1.2kg potatoes, peeled and diced
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
50g wild garlic leaves (or 8 minced garlic cloves if you can’t get wild garlic!), finely chopped
¼ tsp Mel’s spice blend (a blended mix of toasted fennel seeds, caraway seeds and dried chilli)
½ tsp mixed herbs
Plenty of salt and pepper

1)      Soak the saffron in the hot chicken stock and set aside. Preheat the oven to 190C. Par-boil the diced potatoes for 4 minutes in salted water. Drain, and chuck into a roasting tin with the olive oil, wild garlic, spices, herbs and seasoning, and mix together well. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
2)      Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat the oil and brown the chicken thighs for about 5 minutes (they need to colour a bit but don’t need to be cooked the whole way through), remove and set aside. In the same pan, add the knob of butter, white onion, cardamom, mixed spice and bay leaf, and cook for 5 minutes.
3)      Add the white wine and cook for a further 4 minutes, stirring often. Add the saffron infused stock and cream, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks and almonds and stir in quickly (to avoid the mixture “clumping”), and cook the sauce for about 5 minutes.
4)      Add the chicken thighs back into the sauce, and cook on a low heat, stirring often, until the potatoes are ready and the thighs are fully cooked through (about 15 minutes). Remove the potatoes from the oven, and serve with the chicken and the delicious sauce and some toasted pine nuts!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Recipe: Spiced Chicken with stir fried Thai Jasmine Rice

This is a really delicious recipe, and very easy to make. Better than anything you'll get from a thai or Chinese restaurant, with a very unique flavour. This spice blend is just amazing for marinating chicken or turkey- "The Spice Trail" have challenged bloggers to share their favourite spice blends and this is one of mine. It doesn't really have a name, it's just lush!
Spiced Chicken with stir fried Thai Jasmine Rice (serves 2)

Spice blend
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp caraway seeds
1 dried Kashmiri chilli

Chicken Marinade
2 large chicken breasts
200ml white wine
6 wild garlic leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (plus extra for garnish)
10g lemongrass paste
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey

180g Thai jasmine rice
1 tbsp olive oil
6 wild garlic leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
250g beansprouts
15g fresh ginger, finely chopped
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp Chinese 5 spice
100g spring onions, finely chopped
100g roasted red peppers (stuff you get in jars), sliced
170ml Chinese stir fry sauce (your favourite brand- mine is Co-Op stir Chinese stir fry sauce)
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp light soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

1)      Toast the fennel seeds and caraway seeds in a frying pan. Pour into a spice grinder (or a mortar and pestle) and grind with the dried chilli until a smooth powder is achieved.
2)      In a Tupperware or bowl, marinade in the chicken breasts with 1 tbsp of the spice blend, and all the other marinade ingredients. Allow to marinate for at least 1 hour- the longer the better.
3)      Preheat the oven to 180C (fan oven). Cook the Thai rice according to packet instructions, drain and set aside. Put the chicken breasts and all leftover marinade in a baking tray and bake for 25 minutes.
4)      Meanwhile, stir fry the beansprouts, wild garlic, coriander, ginger, turmeric, 5 spice, spring onions, and red peppers in the olive oil in a large wok for 5 minutes. Add the stir fry sauce, lime juice, and soy sauce, and cook for a further 1 minute.
5)      Add the cooked rice, and stir fry for about 2 minutes, or until the rice has soaked up all the sauce and all ingredients are well combined. Remove the chicken from the oven, slice, and serve with the rice (with any pan juices leftover poured on top of the dish). Serve with extra fresh coriander on top.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Recipe: Coffee Chocolate Cheesecake

A wonderfully rich treat. It's funny, I've been t total for about 7 months now, so spending like £18 on a bottle of Tia maria just to make a cheesecake seemed horrifically decadent! It's all right though, my fella has been enjoying the rest of the bottle! This is sweet, with a little bit of bitterness- definitely for those who love coffee.

Coffee Chocolate Cheesecake (serves 8)

300g chocolate chip hobnobs
100g unsalted butter

275g mascarpone
110g cream cheese
180ml double cream
3 medium eggs
120g golden caster sugar
25ml tia maria
12g gelatin powder, dissolved in 50ml water (vegetarian gelatin is available also)

50g dark or milk chocolate
10g instant coffee granules, dissolved in 30ml water
25ml tia maria

1) Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until you get a fine crumb. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and mix in the cookie crumbs. Press this mixture firmly into an oiled 8 inch spring form tin, and put in the fridge.
2) Mix together the mascarpone, cream cheese, double cream, eggs, sugar, tia maria and gelatine, whisking until everything is well combined. Pour onto the biscuit base and put back in the fridge.
3) Melt the chocolate in a bowl on top of a pan full of boiling water. Mix in the coffee and tia maria. Remove the cheesecake from the fridge and pour this coffee/chocolate mixture onto the creamy mixture, and “marble” with a knife. Put back in the fridge and allow to set overnight. Remove from the tin and serve!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Recipe: Spiced Lamb Courgette, with Tomato Fusilli

Wow, what a busy month this has been! Been working shed-loads, plus been exercising a lot, trying to build my muscles up, and today i start my first driving lesson! Eeep! Absolutely bricking it!! Yes, i am still working on getting rid of all this lamb! I suppose this is rather a luxury dish for one, but as Brendan wont eat lamb, i tend to go to all the fuss of cooking the lamb for myself (and then he usually gets a ready meal, oops, lol!). Any other pasta is fine, i just happened to have fusilli in the cupboards.

Spiced Baked Courgettes, with Tomato fusilli (serves 1)

1 courgette, halved lengthways, flesh scooped out the middle
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (plus a little extra for drizzling)
180g lamb mince
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp fennel seeds
Salt and pepper
30g finely grated parmesan

350g passata
100ml strong vegetable stock
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp mixed spice
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp fresh coriander (plus a little extra for garnish)
Salt and pepper
135g fusilli

1) Preheat oven to 200C. Put the courgette on a roasting tray, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, fry the lamb mince, garlic, fresh coriander, cumin, fennel seeds and seasoning  in a saucepan for 8 minutes.
2) Remove the courgettes from the oven, and stuff evenly with the lamb mince. Top with the parmesan and bake for a further 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the fusilli according to packet instructions, and heat up the passata, stock, cumin, mixed spice, sugar, coriander and seasoning together until well combined.
3) Remove the courgettes from the oven, drain the pasta and mix with the tomato sauce. Serve the courgettes with the pasta and garnish with a little extra coriander.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Recipe: Mushrooms a la Grecque

This is one of my mum's recipes, and it's been my favourite of mine for a really long time (well, since I was about 9- as a young child i didn't like mushrooms but i grew up liking them later on). Mum heavily adapted the recipe from an old 70s cookbook- she always wondered why it was called a la grecque, so i googled this and apparently it's essentially a French recipe, and the french call anything "a la grecque" if it is cooked in olive oil, because the Greeks love their olive oil now don't they? It is traditionally served cold, and i like it served this way, but feel free to serve it hot. We like to serve it as a side dish as part of a greek "mezze".

Mushrooms a la Grecque (serves 4 as a side dish) 

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp salt
4 tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
450g white mushrooms, diced (or whole button mushrooms)
1 tbsp tomato puree
150ml dry white wine
4 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1)      Fry the onion, garlic and salt in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree and wine, and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until thickened.
2)      Stir in half of the parsley and season to taste. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Garnish with the remaining parsley on top and serve. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Rosemary Baked Chicken

Yay, wild garlic season is amongst us once more! Found a really good source of it where I go running (well, where I "used to go running"- my knee keeps acting up so not sure that i can run anymore). This recipe is really simple, and makes deliciously soft juicy meat, with plenty of pan juices to savour. Nice served with bread to soak up the sauce, and some veg too- mixed roast veg go well.

Wild Garlic and Rosemary Baked Chicken (serves 2)

5 chicken thighs
90ml white wine
45g wild garlic leaves, finely chopped
5g fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

1)      Mix together the wine, wild garlic, rosemary, oil and salt and pepper in an ovenproof dish. Add the chicken thighs , coat with the marinade, and marinate in the fridge for 5 hours.
2)      Preheat the oven for 180C (fan oven). In the same dish, bake the chicken for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve the chicken with the scrummy juices! 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Recipe: Sweet Chicken and Almond Noodles

This is another one of those recipes that turned out lush by mistake! Was going to make chicken with yellowbean sauce and cashew nuts, so i went to the shops, cashew nuts were all sold out, and I couldn't find yellowbean paste anywhere, so I bought some almonds instead and figured I would improvise a stir fry with the ingredients I had at home. This turned out so scrummy, almonds work sooo well in a stir fry, yummy!

Sweet Chicken and Almond Noodles (serves 3)

4 stacks blue dragon fine egg noodles
Drizzle vegetable oil

350ml chicken stock
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 generous tbsp honey
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp hot sauce (I used Encona West Indian hot pepper sauce)

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 yellow pepper, sliced
¼ aubergine, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5g ginger paste
10g lemongrass paste
Handful fresh coriander, chopped (plus a little extra for garnish)
1 tsp Chinese 5 spice
1 tsp fennel seeds
100g blanched almonds
220g cooked chicken, diced

1)      Cook the noodles according to instructions, and then refresh under cold water with vegetable oil (to avoid sticking) and set aside. Mix together the chicken stock, lemon juice, honey, soy sauce and hot sauce, and set aside.
2)      In a large work, fry the pepper, aubergine, onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, coriander, Chinese 5 spice, and fennel seeds, on a high heat, for 3 minutes. Add the almonds and chicken, and fry for a further 2 minutes.
3)      Add the sauce mixture, and cook a medium heat for a further 6 minutes. Add the cooked noodles, and cook on a high heat, for 3 minutes, stirring often, until all the ingredients are well mixed, and the noodles have soaked up most of the sauce.
4)      Season to taste, and serve with some extra chopped coriander on top. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Recipe: Aubergine, Port Salut and Tomato Stacks

A really delightful starter recipe I have for you here- soft roasty aubergine slices with port salut and tomato- a little like a simple melanzane recipe. It may seem like I use rather a lot of olive oil, but trust me those aubergines are like little sponges, they really soak it up.

Aubergine, Port Salut and Tomato Stacks (makes 3 stacks- serves 3 as a starter)

5 tbsp olive oil
1 aubergine, sliced
Salt and pepper
25g sundried tomato paste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 x 225g port salut wedge, rind cut off, cut into 6 slices
2 tomatoes, sliced
Salad for garnish

1)Preheat oven to 180C. Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Season the aubergine with salt and pepper, and fry the slices for 3 minutes each side. Set aside. Mix together the sundried tomato paste and 1 tbsp olive oil.
2) On a baking tray, layer 1 slice of aubergine, brush over some of the sundried tomato mix, top with a slice of tomato and then a slice of port salut. Repeat the process, and finish with an aubergine slice (brushed with the sundried tomato mix) on top. Repeat the process for the other two stacks.
3) Place the stacks on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes. Spoon a little of the sundried tomato mix around the plate for decoration, place the stacks on the plate and garnish with salad.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Recipe: Chicken, Leerdammer and Salsa Tortillas

Wow, this recipe makes me so happy. So easy to make and so delicious. Tender cooked chicken, with melty leerdammer cheese and zingy salsa, sandwiched between two toasted tortillas- with some extra salsa on the side to dip in. A very adaptable recipe too- I make another version of this on the blog with cheddar, chicken, sweet chilli sauce and coriander. As long as you have the tortillas, and some sort of cheese (when cheese melts, it acts as a sort of "glue" to stop the other ingredients from falling out), you can put whatever ingredients you want in them. This salsa recipe is THE BOMB as well, one of my most earlier recipes i designed when i was about 8 years old, usually to have with lime Doritos whilst watching a movie. This recipe is fab as a quick lunch, or just perfect food for parties- they go quick, trust me!

Me and my fella had the tortillas as a sort of main course dinner the other day, so this is just a serving suggestion- i had the tortillas with some turmeric veg rice, with the salsa and a dollop of natural yogurt.
Chicken, Leerdammer and Salsa Tortillas (serves 4 as a lunch, or 6 as a party food!)

500g passata
½ red onion, finely diced
Large handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
½ tsp lime juice
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

8 soft Mission Deli tortilla wraps
260g finely grated Leerdammer
260g diced cooked chicken

1)      Mix together all the salsa ingredients together and season to taste. Set aside.
2)      Put one tortilla wrap on a plate. Top with ¼ of the chicken and Leerdammer, and 2 tbsp of the salsa, spaced evenly, and put the other tortilla wrap on top. Press down firmly (to prevent ingredients from falling out).
3)      Heat a non-stick frying pan on a medium/high heat. Put the stuffed tortilla wrap onto the hot frying pan for 2 minutes. Flip over and cook for another 2 minutes. Repeat this process for the other wraps. Slice tortillas into quarters and serve with ramekins of the salsa on the side.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Recipe: Italian Leerdammer Baked Chicken

An absolutely delicious one pot (or one baking dish!) recipe, really easy and really tasty. The tomatoes and potatoes soften into the stock to make a delicious sauce, and the chicken thighs stay moist, and flavored beautifully by the sun dried tomato paste. Sun dried tomato paste is a little bit of a pricey ingredient but it really brings a dish alive, I love it. Use your favourite olives in this dish- i love to use Queen green olives, stuffed with sun dried tomatoes, but in the past I have made this with kalamata olives, or green olives stuffed with garlic or stuffed with feta. I love olives- a well stocked deli counter with numerous bowls of these purple and green gems makes me a very happy foodie. Serve this with rice or crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

Italian Leerdammer Baked Chicken (serves 2 generously!)

4 or 5 chicken thighs (depending on size)
550g new potatoes, quartered
½ red onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
250ml chicken stock
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sundried tomato puree
300g ripe tomatoes, diced
125g stuffed green olives
225g grated Leerdammer

1)      Preheat oven to 180C. Put the potatoes, onion, garlic, fresh basil, chicken stock and some salt and pepper into a large ovenproof dish. Put the chicken thighs on top, mix together the olive oil and sundried tomato puree, and brush evenly over the chicken thighs.
2)      Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove, add the diced tomatoes and olive, and bake for a further 20 minutes. Remove, top with the grated Leerdammer, and return to the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the Leerdammer has melted nicely. Garnish with fresh basil and serve! 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Recipe: Simple Biscuits

Made these at work the other day- it was the weekend and we had ran out of the langues du chat biscuits we normally serve with our creme brulees so my manager asked me to whip up some biscuits. Didn't have too much time on my hands as it was a busy saturday, but shoved all this together in the hope it would turn out nice and it really did! A little bit like shortbread biscuits but a little lighter, really really nice. Us chefs use this cling film method to make lots of things- it's a good method for making lots of flavoured butters.

Simple Biscuits! (Makes about 60)

500g salted butter
300g caster sugar
600g plain flour
2 egg yolks
Optional flavourings: vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon etc.

1)      Preheat oven to 180C. Soften the butter in a microwave. Mix together the butter, sugar, flour and egg yolks, until everything is well combined. Lay cling film on a preparation surface, and turn the biscuit dough into 4 long sausage shapes.
2)      Wrap the sausages of dough in cling film tightly, and either put in the freezer for 5 minutes, or In the fridge for about an hour, until it has firmed up. Line 4 trays with greaseproof paper. Remove the cling film from the dough, and slice the sausages into thin discs.
3)      Place the discs on the grease proof paper, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove, allow to cool a little, and serve!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Recipe: Port Salut Stuffed Peppers

This is the nicest side dish recipe EVER. Sweet roasted peppers and cherry tomatoes, paired with salty olives and capers, with smooth creamy port salut cheese melted on top bringing everything together. Just really delicious, I make these all the time. This time I had them on the side of baked chicken breasts and spiced basmati rice. Vegetarians would be very happy with these as a main course too.

Port Salut Stuffed Peppers (serves 3 as a side dish or starter)

3 peppers (any colour), halved (with the stem left on) and seeded
24 cherry tomatoes, halved
50g capers
100g mixed olives
185g wedge port salut, rind cut off and diced
Drizzle olive oil
Fresh basil for garnish

1)      Preheat the oven to 180C. Parboil the pepper halves for 5 minutes, drain and set aside on a roasting tray. Stuff the peppers with the cherry tomatoes, capers, olives, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
2)      Top with the port salut and bake  in the oven for 40 minutes. Garnish with basil and serve- as a starter with salad, or as a perfect side dish. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Recipe: Swedish Meatballs with Horseradish Mash and Boursin Sauce

Whilst the Italians like to serve their meatballs with pasta and with a tomato based sauce, the Swedish take a different tact and often serve their meatballs with potatoes, in a cream based sauce. This is my take on the classic Swedish meatball- using plenty of Nordic flavourings, like dill, horseradish and caraway. Moist, delicious, and something a little bit different!

Swedish Meatballs with Horseradish Mash and Boursin Sauce (serves 3)

400g pork mince
35g breadcrumbs
½ red onion, finely chopped
¼ tsp dill
1 tbsp caraway seeds, toasted, then blitzed in a spice grinder
2 tsp horseradish
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper

1.4kg potatoes, peeled and diced
50g butter
1 tbsp horseradish
Splash milk
Salt and pepper

400g boursin cuisine garlic and herb
200ml semi skimmed milk
Fresh dill for garnish

1)  Mix together all the meatballs ingredients well. Form into 12 meatballs (about 45-50g each). Preheat the oven to 200C. Bake the meatballs for 25 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and boil the potatoes until soft enough to mash. Drain, and mash with the butter, horseradish, milk and seasoning.
3) Meanwhile, heat the boursin and milk in a saucepan for about 5 minutes, until the sauce is hot and thickened. Serve the mash with the meatballs, with the sauce poured on top, garnish with plenty of fresh dill!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Video: Mushroom and Chickpea Tagine

Hi guys, my new video is up- look I'm all Blondie and Branded!! Haha. Cooking my scrummy mushroom and chickpea tagine, 1.48 with rice, or 1.53 per portion with cous cous. Check the video out and join the channel! Go on, you know you want to!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Recipe: Lamb Stew with Dumplings

Nothing schmancy, no poshly written menu style recipe, a "does what it says on the tin" sort of dish (or not I suppose, as it's made completely from scratch!)- a really simple, warming, delicious slow cooked lamb stew, with some home-made old fashioned suet dumplings on top. I'm sure many of you will have similar dishes cooked by your mothers or grandmothers- a very homely meal. If you prefer your dumplings being golden/biscuity rather than steamed, preheat your oven to 180C, and put the casserole dish without a lid in there for the same 25 minutes you would normally steam them on the hob.

Lamb Stew with Dumplings (serves 3/4)

1 tbsp butter
1 large leek, chopped
500g lean diced lamb
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
¼ a celeriac, peeled and diced
800ml beef or lamb stock
Salt and pepper to taste

140g self-raising flour
70g beef suet
100ml water (maybe less, maybe more- use your own judgement)
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp mixed herbs
Black pepper

1) In a large casserole pot (with a lid), fry the leek, lamb and garlic in the butter for 15 minutes, stirring often. Add the carrot, celeriac and stock, cover, and cook on a medium heat for 2 hours.
2) In a mixing bowl, mix the self raising flour, suet, salt, mixed herbs and black pepper. Gradually add water until you have a firm but sticky dough consistency.
3) 25 minutes prior to the stew being ready, season the stew to taste, and shape and drop the dumplings (Should make about 5 or 6 large dumplings) on top of the stew. Place the lid back on- and do not lift until the time is up! You need the steam to stay in there to cook the dumplings!!
4) Once the time is up, remove the lid, ladle the stew into bowls, giving 1 or 2 dumplings per person.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Recipe: Pork Tenderloin, with Boursin Gnocchi and Caramelised Leeks

This is a bit of a show-stopper dish, not too many ingredients but I find a good cut of pork tenderloin, seared and cooked to perfection will always impress. The pork, leeks and the creamy boursin compliment each other perfectly. I sometimes make this with home-made gnocchi, sometimes with shop-bought, depending on how much time I have on my hands. When I was at River Cottage we used to use Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's nettle gnocchi recipe (sometimes with nettles, sometimes with spinach) over and over again, and it always worked, so I continue to make it at home, if your'e looking for a fool-proof gnocchi recipe, this is it:

Pork Tenderloin, with Boursin Gnocchi and Caramelised Leeks (serves 2)

35g butter
2 large leeks, sliced
Salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 x 450g pork tenderloin
Salt and pepper

200ml cider
100ml chicken stock
300g boursin cuisine garlic and herb
1 tbsp diijon mustard
300g gnocchi (pre-made or homemade!)
¼ tsp mixed herbs
Salt and pepper

1)      Preheat oven to 200C. In a saucepan, fry the leeks and seasoning in the butter for 30 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally. In a large frying pan, heat up the vegetable oil, and sear the pork tenderloin (seasoned with salt and pepper) on all sides- takes about 6/ 7 minutes.
2)      Transfer the tenderloin to a tray in the oven, and roast for 18 minutes. Meanwhile, in the same frying pan, add the cider, and cook for a couple of minutes (to burn the alcohol). Add the boursin, chicken stock, mustard gnocchi and mixed herbs, and cook for about 10 minutes- or until the sauce has thickened, and the gnocchi is fully cooked.
3)      Remove the pork tenderloin from the oven, and slice into medallions. Season the gnocchi to taste, and serve with the pork and the caramelised leeks. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Recipe: Cauliflower Boursin Soup, with Crispy Chorizo Garnish

I love cauliflower- I think it's a bit of an underrated veg- here is the UK we either turn it into cauliflower cheese or serve it plain, we don't try and do anything more interesting or radical with it. But I've noticed, especially with the whole low-carb movement gathering more and more momentum, people have been doing really interesting things with it- roasting it whole, steaming it and fluffing it up into "low carb rice"- I even saw a recipe the other day for "vegan style buffalo chicken wings" using cauliflower! The flavour of cauli goes fantastically with chorizo or black pudding, and this soup is absolutely delicious. If you want to serve this to vegetarians, use vegetable stock, and Quorn now make a "fake chorizo" that's absolutely delicious!

Cauliflower Boursin Soup, with Crispy Chorizo Garnish (serves 6)

30g butter
1 large leek, sliced
500g potatoes, peeled and diced small
800ml chicken stock
400ml skimmed milk
400g boursin garlic and herb cuisine
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets.
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
240g chorizo, diced

1) In a large pan, fry the leeks and potatoes in the butter for 5 minutes. Add the stock, milk, boursin, cauliflower and parsley, and cook on a high heat for 25 minutes, stirring often.
2) Meanwhile, fry the chorizo in a frying pan until crisp. Blend the soup, season to taste, and serve with the crispy chorizo on top, and with buttered baguette if desired. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Video: Cherry Tomato and Rocket Penne

Hi guys, my new video is up! I'm all lovely and branded, cool apron ey??? Check it out and become a follower please-y! Xxx

Monday, March 2, 2015

Recipe: Marinated Pork Steaks, with Leerdammer Herb Mash

A delicious and very simple dish- Only takes 5 minutes to prepare, a little marinading time, and 25 minutes to cook- Lovely jubbly! I read recently that pork chops is one of the most popular dishes in the UK- something that the majority of us cook every week. I must admit I much prefer these pork loin steaks- no fussy bones to be dealing with, and a good bit of fat to enrich the meat. This is very nice by itself, with a dollop of Dijon mustard on the side.

Marinated Pork Steaks, with Leerdammer Herb Mash (serves 2)

4 pork loin steaks
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp fennel seeds
Salt and pepper

1kg potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tbsp butter
115g grated Leerdammer
15g fresh parsley, finely chopped
Splash of milk
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Mix together the oil, ginger, lemon, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Rub this mix into the pork loin steaks and marinate for at least 15 minutes. Preheat a grill on a high heat.
2) Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and boil the potatoes until soft enough to mash (about 25 minutes).
3) Meanwhile, put the pork loin steaks (with any leftover marinade poured on top) under a hot grill for 7 minutes each side. Drain the potatoes, and mash with the butter, Leerdammer, parsley, and a little milk.
4) Season the mash to taste and serve with the grilled pork steaks.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Recipe: Leerdammer and Roasted Red Pepper Spirali Bake

Goodness, this is one of the best pasta bakes I have ever made! There are certain elements you need in a pasta bake- you want a nice, unctuous, creamy sauce to coat everything, a good mix of tasty ingredients mixed in with the pasta, it needs to be nice and rich but not too overpoweringly creamy,and with a nice crunchy baked topping. This has got all of that- and it's really nice garnishing it with chopped spring onions, adds a real zing!

Leerdammer and Roasted Red Pepper Spirali Bake (serves 3)

300g Spirali pasta
45g butter
40g flour
600ml skimmed milk
225g Leerdammer, grated
250g diced flame roasted red pepper (the type you get pre-roasted in jars/tins)
200g ham, finely chopped
125g spinach
2 generous tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
30g spring onions, finely sliced

1)      Preheat oven to 200C. Cook the Spirali according to packet instructions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter, and add the flour. Gradually add the milk to this mixture (thus making a white sauce).
2)      Add 2/3rds of the Leerdammer, red pepper, ham, spinach and mustard. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, or until the spinach has wilted, the cheese has melted, the sauce has thickened nicely. 
3)      Season the sauce to taste, and mix in the pasta. Pour this mix into a large baking dish, top with the remaining Leerdammer, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and garnish with the spring onion. Serve!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Recipe: Bel Tartiflette

A tartiflette is a traditional French dish- thickly sliced potatoes, layered with bacon, onions, and cheese, finished off with cream and baked in the oven. In layman's terms it's essentially like a "pimped up" dauphinoise! The differences being much thicker potatoes, incorporating bacon, and using a generous amount of cheese. Traditionally you would use a camembert or a good reblochon, but I have used port salut, as I very happily have received another batch of products from Bel for recipe development- now that i've got all that surplus of lamb in the freezer, expect a lot of cheese recipes coming you way!!! I have served this with salad, although traditionally I think it's served with French bread and pickles (e.g. gherkins and mini pickled onions).

Bel Tartiflette (serves 3)

1.1kg potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
1 tbsp butter (plus a little extra for greasing)
3 white onions, finely sliced
180g thinly sliced smoked bacon
2 x 185g wedges port salut, rind cut off and sliced
250g boursin cuisine garlic and herb
125ml skimmed milk
Salt and pepper
Salad to serve (optional)

1)      Preheat oven to 190C. Par boil the sliced potatoes for about 7 minutes, drain and set aside. Meanwhile, fry the onions and bacon in the butter with some salt and pepper for 15 minutes, stirring often.
2)      Grease a baking dish with some softened butter. Layer half of the potatoes in the dish and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the bacon/onion mixture on top, and half of the port salut. Cover with the rest of the sliced potatoes, some more salt and pepper, and the other half of the sliced port salut.
3)      Mix together the boursin and the milk until smooth, and pour over the potato cheese bake. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, and serve with salad or as desired. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Recipe: Greek Shepherds Pie with Sauteed Courgettes

Another lovely lamb fusion dish- a traditionally British shepherd's pie, given a Mediterranean twist by adding olives to the mince, and feta to the mash, OPA! A nice little dish to get me in the mood for my holiday to Rhodes this year (to be fair it's not until, any excuse to make myself a greedy meal!), I'm not going to lie, I ate this all by myself! It would probably feed two normal people I suppose.

Greek Shepherd’s Pie with sautéed courgettes (serves 1 massively, or 2 normally!)

15g butter
180g lamb mince
½ white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
15g sundried tomato paste
200ml chicken stock
Juice of quarter lemon
80g green olives, halved
Salt, sugar and pepper to taste

400g potatoes, peeled and halved
80g feta cheese, crumbled
Knob of butter
Salt and pepper

15g butter
2 courgettes, sliced thickly diagonally
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ tsp dried dill
Juice of quarter lemon
20g capers
30ml water
Salt and pepper to taste

1)      Preheat oven to 180C. In a saucepan, fry the courgettes, garlic, dill, lemon juice, capers and water on a medium heat, for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in an ovenproof casserole, fry the lamb mince, onion, garlic, oregano and tomato paste for 10 minutes, stirring often.
2)      Add the stock, lemon juice and olives and cook for a further 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste, and set aside. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in a pan of salted water until soft enough to mash (about 25 minutes), drain, and mash with the feta, butter and seasoning.
3)      Season the mince and the mash to taste. Smooth the mash on top of the mince, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, season the courgettes to taste, and serve the pie with the courgettes.