Monday, 31 May 2010


My brother Adam and his girlfriend Lucy have come to stay for a couple of nights, so I thought it would be nice to sit around and share a tapas style meal when they arrived. We had garlic and herb chicken drumsticks and thighs, patatas bravas, a spring green vegetable fattoush, salad, olives and houmous.

To make the chicken I made a simple marinade of chopped garlic, dried herbs and olive oil, rubbed into the chicken an hour before cooking, then roasted for 40 minutes.

The patatas bravas and fattoush recipes can both be found here:
If you've not heard of it (and I hadn't until I saw it in my magazine!), a 'fattoush' is a lebanese salad, made using toasted pitta bread and seasonal vegetables. This recipe used broad beans, cucumber, feta, parsley, mint and a lemon juice and olive oil dressing.

This is a relaxed and sociable way of eating, and I'm definitely going to cook more tapas style dishes this summer-hopefully to enjoy in the garden next time!

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Today I have eaten..

For breakfast I made a delicious Mango and Coconut Porridge. You make this the same way as you would ordinary porridge, but using a tin of light coconut milk instead of milk. Then top with diced mango, sprinkle with brown sugar, and squeeze over some fresh lime juice, if you have it. This feels rather indulgent, but is it at the same time a fresh and vibrant start to the day.

We went to Banglo in Bath for a barbecue, although unfortuntately I forgot to take my camera! It was delicious, I really recommend the food here. Next time we're going to go for a roast-they looked amazing, with huge homemade yorkshire puddings.
Dinner was a simple chicken caesar salad (although to be honest I was still quite full from lunch!), using cos lettuce, croutons, parmesan and a bottle of ready made caesar dressing. Sometimes you just can't beat a simple classic.
By the way, for some reason these dishes just don't look as appealing as they actually were, so apologies for my poor photography!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Hello again!

Hello blog followers! Sorry I've neglected you for so long, I hope you haven't missed me too much :)
We've been away in Dorset, having a well earned break with my family. It was lovely to get some sea air, relax, and have some time off from cooking to enjoy some lovely pub meals and local fish. Saying that, it was quite comforting to get back in my kitchen and get cooking again when we returned!
I feel refreshed and rejuvenated, and vow not to ignore my blogees for so long again...until our next holiday that is.

Pea and Courgette Risotto

I always keep a bag of risotto rice (arborio) in the cupboard, as its so handy to russle up a meal out of what you have lying around. It's a great base so gives you the best ideas for getting creative with ingredients. We had some peas in the freezer and just bought a few fresh ingredients, so I came up with this combination.

If you haven't cooked risotto before, don't be scared of it! It's not difficult, but does involve standing at the hob for about half an hour, so you have to do it when you have the time and are in the mood for chilling out in the kitchen-perhaps with some music and a glass of wine! Once you've learnt the basic technique though, it will become a staple.

Olive oil
250g risotto rice
1 small onion,finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 litre vegetable stock
100ml white wine
Approx 200g frozen peas
1 small courgette, cut into ribbons with a U-shaped vegetable peeler
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
handful of basil leaves

1) Have two pans ready. Put the vegetable stock into one and leave simmering -you'll need to add the hot stock gradually to the rice throughout cooking.

2)Now, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan. Gently fry the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook for a minute or so.

2) Pour in the wine, increase the heat and bubble for a couple of minutes until most of the wine has been absorbed by the rice. Season with salt and pepper.

3) Continue to cook by adding one ladleful of the hot stock at a time, pretty much continuously stirring each ladleful in until it has been absorbed. It will take about 20 minutes doing this until the rice has cooked.

4) Meanwhile (you can leave the rice for a couple of minutes or get someone to help you!) make a pea puree. Blast half the peas in a little water in the microwave for 2 minutes, then whizz with a hand held blender.

5) If you have a griddle pan for the hob, cook the courgettes on this with a little olive oil. Otherwise cook them under the grill. It will only take 5 minutes to soften and slightly colour them.

6) Add the rest of the frozen peas to the risotto a couple of minutes before the end of cooking, and stir through. Stir in the pea puree.
Taste the rice. You know it is cooked when it is slightly soft but still has a slight bite to it. The consistency of the risotto should be soft but not too runny.

8) Roughly chop the basil leaves and stir into the risotto. Serve the risotto in large bowls, top with the griddled courgettes, a drizzle of olive oil, and some more chopped basil.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Sticky salmon with stir-fried greens

After repeatedly making different versions of a teriyaki salmon dish, I've decided this is the best way to do it and has just the right quantities of sweetness and spice. We love this and now have it almost every week!
It may seem expensive to buy the bottles of oyster and teriyaki sauce, but they can stay in your store cupboard and you can use them again for other oriental dishes. Or you might want to just keep making this one!

2 skinless salmon fillets
1 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp teriyaki sauce
1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp oil (vegetable or sesame)
1/2 tbsp finely grated ginger
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
1/2 red chilli, chopped, or a good pinch of dried chilli flakes
250g mixed green veg (I used brocolli, mangetout and spinach)

1. Heat oven to 200'c/Gas 6. Place the salmon on a baking tray. Mix together the oyster sauce, teriyaki and honey, then spoon a little over the fish.
2. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes until glazed and just cooked through.
3.Heat the oil in a wok, then fry the ginger, chilli and garlic for 1 minute. Stir fry the brocolli or any larger, harder veg for 3 minutes. Add the leafy veg and cook for 1 minute more.
4. Stir in the rest of the sticky sauce, heat through, and serve alongside the salmon and some boiled basmati rice, if you like.

Low-fat tomato,chilli and basil soup

Here's a quick, cheap and low fat soup recipe that came from a great cookbook called Cook Yourself Thin. This is so easy, its almost the same as just opening a tin of soup!
The recipe serves 4 and its only 95 calories per portion, so you can even have double helpings and still not feel guilty! Also, when tomatoes are cooked it brings out an antioxidant called lycopene, so you get even more health benefits than you would from eating them raw.
Give it a try!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic,finely chopped
a pinch of dried chilli flakes
400g tin plum tomatoes
salt and pepper
small pinch of sugar
a handful of basil, roughly chopped
2 tbsp low fat creme fraiche

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently sweat the onion and garlic until translucent. Add the chilli and cook for another minute.
Add the tomatoes to the pan, then fill the empty tin with water, twice, and add to the pan.

Season and add the sugar. (when using tinned tomatoes, sugar just helps bring out the natural sweetness of the tomatoes rather than it being too acidic).

Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the basil to the soup and spoon in the creme fraiche.

Blitz until smooth with a hand held blender. Check the seasoning and serve.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Halloumi, lentil and tomato salad

Here's a quick and healthy salad that's substantial enough to have for dinner. Trust me, if you're not usually a salad fan, this one will win you over!

Halloumi is a greek cheese made with sheep and goats milk. It has a high melting point so can be grilled or fried without melting, and forms a delicious golden crust. It's a great meat substitute as it has quite a "meaty" texture if you know what I mean!
Usually I use raw cherry tomatoes. I decided to roast them this time to see if it added anything to the dish, but actually I think raw tomatoes worked best as the freshness cuts through the lentils. Up to you though. Try it and see!
This recipe serves 4, or 2 with leftovers for lunch the next day. This really is good cold in your lunchbox the day after.

250g pack cherry tomatoes, halved
250g pack haloumi cheese, sliced or cut into chunks
150g puy or green lentils, rinsed
1 red onion, finely sliced
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
salad leaves

(If roasting the tomatoes, pre-heat oven to 200'c/Gas 5. Lay out tomatoes on a tray, drizzle with olive oil and roast for about 30 minutes, whilst you get on with the rest of the recipe).
Put the chilli flakes, garlic and the sliced red onion into a bowl. Pour over the lemon juice. Leave to one side, to allow the acid in the lemon juice to macerate and soften the onion.

Meanwhile, cook the lentils in lightly boiling water for about 20 minutes, until just tender.Drain well and add to the onions. Season.

Toss through the cherry tomatoes and stir in the coriander.

Grill or fry the halloumi until golden. This will take about 2 minutes on each side.

Divide half of the lentil mixture between two plates (put the other half away and save for tomorrow).

Add some salad leaves to each plate and mix them through the lentils (add the salad leaves to your leftovers the morning after so they don't go soggy overnight!)

Top with some haloumi slices, again saving half the halloumi for leftovers. Yum!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Stuffed chicken breasts coated in breadcrumbs

This is based on another recipe from Tana Ramsay's 'Homemade' book. It must be a good book as I'm starting to work my way through the recipes! Her recipe, however, uses mozzarella but as I forgot to buy any I used mascarpone. She also states to use fresh tomatoes but I had some sun-dried tomatoes in the fridge so used these. I liked it this way, but will try it with mozzarella next time to compare.

Olive oil
2 boneless,skinless chicken breasts
3 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
2 heaped tbsp mascarpone
1 tsp chopped capers
sprig of fresh basil, torn
1 egg
75g dried breadcrumbs
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 190'C/Gas 5. Lightly grease an oven tray.
Place the tomatoes, mascarpone (or mozzarella), capers and basil into a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste. Stir to combine.
Slit the chicken breast horizontally to make a pocket, being careful not to go all the way through.

Fill each chicken breast with the mixture, close the pocket and secure with a cocktail stick.

Beat the egg in a large shallow bowl. Tip the breadcumbs onto a large plate. Coat each chicken breast in the egg, then turn them in the breadcrumbs. At this stage you can, if you have time, leave it in the fridge for a few hours and cook it later in the evening.

Place the chicken breasts on an oven tray and drizzle with olive oil.

Cook for 25 minutes, turning over halfway through cooking. Ensure the chicken is cooked through. Remove the cocktail sticks before serving (as I forgot to do for the photo below!)

mmmm milkshake

Lazy day at home today, enjoying time with Toby. Made chocolate and banana milkshakes, using 1 banana, 2 scoops of chocolate ice cream, one scoop of vanilla ice cream, and some milk. Oh, but the blender was broken so we improvised with a jug and a hand held blender!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Pea and Mint Soup

Today for lunch we had a fresh and healthy Pea and Mint Soup. Perfect for Spring...even if the weather was decidedly Wintery. For 4 portions you'll need:

1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 large potato, peeled and diced
300g frozen peas
850ml vegetable stock
3 tbsp chopped mint
2 tbsp creme fraiche

Heat approx 1 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan. Gently sweat the onion and garlic on a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the potato, stir and cook for a couple more minutes.
Pour in the vegetable stock, bring to the boil, leave to simmer for 15 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Add the peas and cook for another 5 minutes - no longer or you'll lose the fresh pea taste.
Stir in the mint, season to taste and leave to cool slightly. You can pour into a blender and whizz, or to make life easier, I use a hand held blender and do it in the pan.
To serve, re-heat, ladle into bowls, then stir through the creme fraiche. Delicious.

Toby certainly enjoyed his!


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