Friday, 30 March 2007

Vegetable Ratatoulie Style Pasta

Makes 3-4 portions but easily doubled:
Cooking time: 30 mins apx

approx 300g fusili or penne
1 courgette, chopped into 1cm slices and quartered
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 Sticks celery, sliced into 1cm chunks
1 onion diced
1 tbsp chili olive oil
20g butter
1 clove garlic crushed
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried italian herbs
30g grated cheese - optional - sub veggie version according to preference

1) In a large saute style pan, heat the oil and butter, also bring a large pan of water to the boil

2) In the saute pan, add the onion and fry for 2 mins, then add celery and courgette and cover, fry for about 6 mins until softened. Now and add the pasta to the boiling water.

3) Now add the garlic to the veg pan and seasonings, pour over the tomatoes and mix well, cook for about 15-20 mins until veg soft and cooked through

4) Drain the pasta and combine with vegetables and cheese and serve.

Also is very nice cold and would make a great picnic dish.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

My Basic Bean Casserole

This makes about 4 bowls but is easily increased, just scale up accordingly

1 tin Good chopped tomatoes
2-3 Sticks celery
50 g Sweetcorn
1-2 tins Black eyed beans/ borlotti/ kidney/ chickpeas etc
1 Red or white onion or even a couple of shallots
1 Pak choi (optional)
1 Pepper any colour
50g Conchigiliette (little pasta shapes)
4 tbsp Pearl barley (more for winter time)
1/2 tsp Cumin Seed
1/4 tsp Chili powder
1/2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Dried Italian herbs
S&P to taste
1 Pint of stock - any will do
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp Butter optional

Dice veg if needed, Prepare stock

In a heavy based large saucepan heat the oil and butter

In a bowl, place pearl barley and enough water to cover by an inch, microwave for 10-15 minutes until tender

Add the onion to the saucepan, fry for 2 mins, add garlic and pepper, fry for 3 mins till softened

Add all remaining veg, tomatoes and seasoning, stir well, pour over stock to cover and reduce to a simmer

When the pearl barley is softened add to mix and cover, simmer until flavours develop

Add pasta 10 mins before end

Serve with crusty bread

You can use this as a base and add meat I.e. sausages if wanted

Mediteranean Chicken

250g Farfalle
2 Chicken Breasts
1 Yellow pepper
1/2 Onion
15 Cherry tomatoes
3 Cloves garlic
1 tbsp Fresh Basil
1tbsp Fresh Oregano
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp Chili olive oil
1 Glass dry red wine

Dice chicken into small strips, Dice onion, Crush the garlic, Shred the herbs, Quarter the tomatoes

In a large heavy based saute warm the oil and fry the chicken for 5 mins, remove and keep warm

Add the onion, garlic and pepper to the pan and fry for 3 mins till softened, return the chicken to the pan, add the red wine and tomatoes and sizzle for 5 more mins, add the herbs & s&p, reduce heat and cover

Simmer until veg softened and meat coloured nicely approx 10 mins and serve

A taste of sunshine, lovely fresh and tasty

Oven Poached Salmon

1 per person


1 Fillet of Salmon
1/2 Clove Garlic
2 tbsp Chardonnay
Black pepper To taste
Sea Salt To taste
1 tsp
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Lemon
Pinch Dried coriander leaf or parsley

1) Cut out a tin foil square apx 30 cm x 30 cm

2) Chop Garlic finely

3) Lay the fillet in the middle of the foil, drizzle over apx a tsp of EVOO, sprinkle over a pinch of the garlic, season well with S&P, sprinkle over a pinch of either coriander leaf or parsley

4) Gently pull up one side of the foil so that the fillet falls onto its side, carefully fold the foil until it meets the top of the piece below, fold the sides over several times to make a tight seal, be careful not to rip the foil, then bring upright so the gap is open, spoon over the wine and lay a wedge of lemon over, seal and bake on the oven shelf for 18-20 minutes at 200o.

Wonderfully easy once you get the hang of folding, no washing up either! Also added a squirt of lime to one parcel which was lovely and tangy. Worked just as well with the chicken.

Creamed Leeks

Makes 3 generous portions (or one large for me heehee)


2 large leeks
1oz butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp cream (d or s)
about 100 ml hot water mixed with a pinch of marigold bouilion powder

1) Halve and slice leeks, rinse well

2) Make the boulion up

3) Using a large pan, heat the butter and oil, add the leeks, stir well and cover for 4-5 mins, if needed add a little of the bouilion mix (sometimes the leeks retain a lot of water and is not always needed.

4) Simmer for approx 20 mins, repeating step 3 as required

5) Remove from heat and stir in the cream, season to taste and serve

Goes well with potatoes and salmon

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Anne's top ten of what not to do in the kitchen:

1) Leave tea towels or oven gloves on a electric hob
2) Never leave pyrex dishes on a electric hob and then pour cold water in
3) Attempt to make thai fish curry using expensive salmon and cod, certainly without a decent recipe first anyway
4) Make corned beef pasta bake. It ain't pretty!
5) Use tea towels to get hot things out of the oven, thats what your oven gloves are for
6) Drop knives
7) Place eggs in the side of the fridge and not in the actual holder
8) Place hard boiled eggs loose on the counter...bouncey bouncey..
9) Forget to use a colander when draining pasta
10) Leave wine in the icebox.
11) Use steak knives to bone and de-fat a lamb shoulder...
12) Squeeze citrus fruits when you have papercuts

Any more you think should be added? Just give me a shout! :-)

Top Tips

1) If you have any leftover cooked vegetables don't throw them away - simply freeze in a bag and next time you are making cottage pie, shepherds pie etc, simply defrost, blitz in the food processor and add to your meat!

2) For perfect roast potatoes, firstly make sure the potatoes are of even sizes, par-boil for 7 minutes or until the edges are just softening, in a baking dish heat a couple of knobs of lard and 3 tbsp olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, drain the potatoes well and return to the heat to steam off excess water, then sprinkle with flour and carefully add to the hot fat, turning every 15 mins or so, should take about 40-50 minutes depending on your oven.

3) Make a list of everything that is in your freezer on your computer and use it when planning your weekly meals, saves both time and money

4) Don't throw away creme fraiche / butter tubs - wash and use as most tupperware. Though tescos tub isn't fond of the microwave. They are great for storing nibbles and the odd 1/2 pepper or even when measuring out small quantities.

Mandarin Mini Cheesecakes

Two ramekins or equiv size pots, line with cling film (use a little oil to help stick if needed)

Open a tin of mandarins, bash around a little and put to one side
Bash the lights out of 6 digestives and mix with a little melted butter
take one tub of mascarpone, mix with 1 dessert spoon of the mandarin juice and 2 tbsp of crushed mandarins and 1 tbsp grated dark chocolate, place a couple of spoonfuls in each ramekin and top with crushed biccies, leave to cool and set in the fridge for an hour or two

Remove from fridge and turn upside down onto serving plate/ dish remove cling film and drizzle over some melted chocolate or simply garnish with a sprig of mint if you have any....Very simple and easy but was nice. Have done a similar one using fresh oranges just make sure they are sweet ones!

Also works if you are doing a big cheesecake, normally top it with orange gelatine to stop it drying out.

Italian Style Tomato dip

Makes one bowl

15 ripe cherry tomatoes
6/7 fresh basil leaves
6 fresh oregano leaves
1/2 tsp hot chili & garlic sauce or 2 cloves garlic and chili powder

Blend everything in a food processor / mini chopper and serve with nachos

Easy as that!

Macaroni cheese with Spinach

Makes four bowls:

1 pint milk at room temperature
45g butter
45g plain flour
50g mature cheese grated
40g parmesan grated
1/2 tsp colmans mustard
300g fresh spinach
250g dried macaroni

1) Cook macaroni as per packet instructions, roughly 20 mins.
2) Make the cheese sauce by melting butter, add the flour and whisk in milk, bring to boil and simmer until thick, add mustard, (works equally well using microwave method), add 3/4 both cheeses, reserve remainder.
3) In a large pan wilt the spinach and drain very well in a sieve.
4) Line a small roaster/ oven proof dish with the spinach, season well, pour over cooked macaroni (drained!), pour over the cheese sauce and sprinkle over remaining cheese, season with black pepper, place in preheated oven roughly 180 or gas 5 until golden and bubbling apx 25mins or grill on 200o for about 10 mins.

As a variation, last night we omited the mustard and added a tin of tuna to the sauce, was really yummy and made loads, OH gave it 10/10!

How to make my Lasagne/ bolognese sauce

Makes 3-4 good portions

Prep time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 1.5 hours+

480g good lean mince ( I like steak mince)
500g Passata/ plain sieved tomatoes,
120g approx chopped baby plum or ripe cherry tomatoes **(during winter replace with two finely chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil)
500g pack linguine for bolognese OR 250g pack dried lasagne sheets for lasagne
2 tbsp chili olive oil,
2 cloves finely chopped fresh garlic,
3 roughly chopped shallots or 1 onion, red or white*
1 tsp dried italian herbs,
1/3 tsp Freshly ground mixed peppers (schwarz do a lovely one) or black pepper if you can't find
(To bulk out, try adding finely chopped or grated celery and carrots after the onion)

(For the lasagne only: 1 pint cheese sauce home made, also 75g grated mozzarela and 75g grated medium cheddar)

1- Heat up a large saute/ fry pan and preheat oven to 190"/ apx gas 5.
2- Add mince to pan to brown
3- In a small fry pan heat on high the chili oil, once hot add the tomatoes, shallots, garlic and the herbs for about 4 mins till golden and bubbling.
4- Drain the mince if needed, add the passata to pan, heat for 30 seconds then return mince to pan.
5- Take the smaller pan and add contents to mince mixture and stir well. Set the timer for 15 mins and keep stirring every now and then.
6- For bolognese - When the mix has gone a deep reddish colour its ready just simply add to the cooked linguine, mix well and serve with lots of fresh parmesan and nice bread. OR,
7 - For lasagne, take a large oven dish (mine is about 30cm x 20 x 8 ish), layer the lasgne sheets slightly overlapping at the bottom, then add a few spoons of cheese sauce and spread out to cover fully. Then add a handful of both cheese mixtures and season with pepper, now add 1/3 of the mince and smooth out. Repeat layers until meat used up (mine does about 3 layers). For the final layer finish with lasagne sheets overlapping slightly, pour on remainder of sauce and cheese. Sprinkle over aprx a tsp of the italian herb mix and place in oven. My electric oven is slow and take sabout 35-40 mins but my mums super gas takes no more than about 25mins, will be ready when golden and bubbling.Serve with lots of 'Jardin' salad leaves and garlic bread.

Cheese sauce*:
45g flour, 45g unsalted butter, 1 pint milk

Melt gently the butter, remove from heat, whisk the flour in to form a 'roux', add 1/4 milk, whisk thoroughly, return to heat, slowly whisk in remaining milk, bring to the boil for 1 minute constantly stirring, lower heat and simmer on low for couple more minutes till creamy and thick, use immediately.

*If you have time, place the milk in a saucepan with a roughly chopped carrot and stick of celery a small halved onion and a twist of black pepper, bring to the boil and remove from heat and leave to infuse for about 20 minutes, then use as directed above*

Bon appetit!
I gave this recipe to work colleagues who'd never made it before and got big thumbs up as so easy but delish! Let me know if it works for you! Enjoy!

*If you have some extra time on your hands, try roasting the veg with the chili oil for about 45 mins then use as above.

Alternative Healthy Carbonara

Serves 2

Created in my kitchen 05/07/2006

180g Buccatini pasta (Like spaghetti but has a hole in middle)
1 small tub half fat cremé fraiche 250ml
1 fat clove garlic
3 small rashers trimmed smokey bacon
3 tbsp fresh grated parmesan
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 shallots sliced
Spray EVOO

1) Put pasta in lots of water, bring to boil and cook per instructions to al dente, apx 8-9 mins, drain and keep warm
2) In a skillet cook the bacon, remove and cut into small strips
3) Turn the heat down and return skillet to pan, spray with EVOO and add crushed garlic and sliced shallots, soften, add cremé friache and warm through gentrly, add 3/4 parmesan and pepper, put to one side
4) Drain pasta, add bacon bits and cremé mix, stir thoroughly and serve immediately
5) Garnish with remaining parmesan and a twist of black pepper.

Was surprisingly nice and would deff have again!

Tiramisu style dessert

Edited 16/11/08

Prep time: 20 minutes
Chilling: 4 hours +
Serves 4-6

Need a 2lb loaf tin/ dish


1 large / 2 standard tubs mascarpone
50ml warm espresso or similar strong coffee
24 Italian sponge fingers - this does depend on their size though, I normally get through 2 strips
Handful grated plain choc - you can also use white or milk as desired
Small bowl of sieved icing sugar, apx 50g

These quantities half fill a standard loaf tin, double upto fill completely.

Firstly line a loaf tin (or similar) with 2 layers of cling film, spray with oil first as aids removal - note this is fiddliest part!1) Sieve all over the inside of the dish a small amount of the icing sugar, just to make a thin dusting.

2) Using two spoons (its easier) make a layer apx 1/2 inch thick with the mascapone, then scatter 1/4 apx of the grated choc.

3) Dip the sponge fingers very quickly into the coffee then make a further snug layer (chop to desired shape if needed), scatter some more icing sugar over.

4) Repeat steps 2 and three until you have a final layer of just sponge.

5) If you have any remaining coffee pour over gently, scatter the last of the icing sugar and make a final thin layer of mascapone.

6) Cover with more cling film and chill for at least 3 hours.

7) To serve, turn upside down onto your serving plate, gently remove the dish using the cling film to pull gently out if needed. Keep the top piece of cling film in place too as saves mess!

8) Scatter the remaining chocolate and any icing sugar over the top and serve in slices with berries or red fruit.Is delicious and always get thumbs up and no leftovers!

Keeps chilled for couple of days.

**If its for adults you can sneak some nice dark rum into the coffee or even frangicello.

Recently replaced the espresso with baileys mmmmmmm very good and alcofrolic!

*previously called recipe for egg free and very quick tiramisu*

These are pictures of a recent one I made using baileys:

Drunken Prawn Linguine

On Fridays I like making my 'Drunken prawns', looks and taste great and I could make it wearing a blindfold!

Serves two

250g linguine or spaghetti
200g cooked and peeled king prawns
150ml single cream
 2 tbsp chopped basil or coriander leaves

1) Cook the linguine according to packet, when its almost cooked through (normally about 8 mins)

2) Meanwhile, place the prawns in a pre-heated large wok/ pan, pour in the cream and the same amount of dry white wine (Soave or chardonnay are ideal), gently heat through, add the herbs (optional but nice!), season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, add to the drained pasta and mix well, serve immediately in large bowls - ensure there is lots of liquid in each bowl as the pasta will soak it up quite quickly!

Serve with freshly baked rolls and enjoy.

Anne’s Spinach, Bacon and Tomato Flan

Prep 20 + 10 mins
Cooking time approx 25 minutes.
Serves 3/4


1 tsp olive oil
2 Large shallots (optional)
3 Rashers smoked bacon, fat trimmed off
4 large eggs
20g butter
Dash of milk
40g grated medium mature cheddar
Salt and pepper
250g short-crust pasty (puff for a lighter version)
200g frozen spinach defrosted and roughly chopped (press out any excess water in a sieve)
2 tbsp tomato puree

1) Line a quiche/ flan dish with pastry to the edges, blind bake until firm approx 10-15 minutes.

2) Whilst in the oven, roughly chop bacon and shallots and pan fry in oil for about 4-5 minutes until bacon is cooked through and shallots golden, add chopped spinach and cook for about 4 more minutes.

3) In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, 3/4 of the cheese, butter and milk. Season well and put to one side.

4) Remove the pastry dish from the oven once firm, spread the tomato paste over the base, add the spinach and bacon mix, smooth out then pour over the eggs and cheese to cover all of the filling. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese.

5) Return to oven for approx 25 mins until golden and firm. (N.b middle will rise up quite a lot so allow for space in the oven but flattens on standing.

Serve with a fresh green salad

This is a gorgeous dish and one of my favourites, has had excellent feedback and is great hot or cold

Preparation: 20-30mins

Chicken in White Wine Sauce

Serves 2/3
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 25 mins
Easy to moderate


2 chicken breasts cut into 2cm pieces
1 dessert spoon extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove chopped finely
1/2 of a chinese leaf cabbage shredded
1 glass dry chardonnay or soave white wine (lidls one is particuarly good for this)
2 spring onions trimmed and sliced thinly or 1 shallot finely sliced

For the sauce:
600ml milk
45g butter
45g flour
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 tsp of garlic salt

1) In a wide shallow pan (ideally a saute or a flat bottom wok will suffice) pre-heat on a medium heat, once warmed through add the oil, warm through for 2 mins and add chicken and spring onions, the aim is to slowly cook not burn or brown them, put lid on and simmer occasionaly stirring for about ten mins.

2) In a large glass bowl or jug add the butter and microwave for about 40 seconds till melted and slightly bubbling, remove and place milk in a seperate container in microwave for about 40 secs. In the meantime stir in the flour to the butter and whisk to form a roux (paste) remove the warm milk and add 1/3, whisk well making sure you scrape the bottom, place back in microwave for one min, remove whisk well and add another 1/3 milk, whisk well and return for a further minute, remove add last of the milk and put back in microwave, set it for 2 mins and stop as soon as it thickens should take between 1min30 to 2 depending on wattage. Remove and whisk well making sure all blended, should be thick and stiff. Put to one side.

3) Stir in the cabbage to the chicken, replace lid and cook for two mins till softened, add 1/2 glass of the wine, stir and replace lid for about 4 mins. Uncover, stir and add the white sauce, stir in garlic and the garlic salt, keep uncovered and after about 10 mins add any remaining wine to taste. Season well with the black pepper. Reduce the heat to low.

4) Aim to simmer in total for 25 mins until sauce has reduced and you are happy with the taste.
Serve with brown or wild rice and enjoy!

P.s this is quite well seasoned so do adjust to your tastes!

Salmon Kebabs

Serves 2-3

Makes 4 skewers

2 skinless and boneless salmon fillets
1/3 bottle Teryaki sauce
1 tbsp Dark Soy sauce
3 tbsp runny honey
1/2 tsp schwarz ginger and garlic seasoning
2 lemons
1 Red onion
1/2 red pepper
1/2 yellow pepper

1) Cut fillet into 6 one inch chunks, marinade in a mixture of teryaki sauce, honey, juice of one lemon and seasoning as above for about 30 mins

2) Deseed peppers and cut into 1 inch chunks

3) Halve and quarter the onion, using your fingers split each quarter into two

4) Thread one piece pepper, one piece onion and one chunk salmon, repeat until skewer filled, (allow three pieces of salmon per kebab)

5) Place on lined baking tray and grill until cooked roughly 15 mins.

6) Serve with 1/2 lemon on plate

Suitable for bbq

Simple Chow Mein

Serves 2-3

2 'blocks' dried chow mein noodles
50g frozen petit pois
1 large free range or organic egg
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 onion
1 large clove garlic
Sunflower oil

Place noodles in a large bowl, cover with boiling water and 1 tbsp soy.

Add the 1 tbsp oil to a large cold wok, add onion and garlic, place on pre-heated burner and keep stirring
Add a little hot water to the petit pois
When onions smelling fragrant add petit pois, drain noodles, rinse in cold water then add to pan, cook through for 3 mins stirring continously, add egg and 2 tbsp soy, mix well, heat through and serve immediately

Garlic Ciabattas 2 - The Daddy!

Wow what can I say, made garlic bread on sunday and was best have ever made and had which I am very proud of!!


1 nice ciabatta
150g good butter (I like Kerrygold)
1 small handful fresh parsley chopped roughly
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1) Pre heat oven to 180o
2) In a bowl blend the above ingredients
3) Slice the ciabatta through the middle to form two halves
4) Spread generously with the butter mix
5) Place in oven on a tray and bake for 6 minutes, if you want a crispier finish switch to grill mode for a further two mins
6) Serve immediately!

Chicken and Broccoli Lasagne

Serves 3-4
3 Chicken Breasts
1 pint milk at room temperature
50g Butter
50g Plain flour
100g Broccoli
40g Parmesan
25g Normal cheddar
1 Glass dry white wine
1/2 tsp dried sage
9-12 Dried Lasagne sheets
2 cloves garlic
1 Large Shallot S&P To taste

1) Place milk, wine, shallot (whole) and the garlic (also whole) and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and add the chicken breasts, simmer for 10-15 mins until cooked through. Then pre-heat oven to 180o
2) Remove chicken and slice into 1/2 cm slices, keep warm
3) Remove the garlic and shallots and mash/ slice thinly (they should fall apart easily)
4) Melt the butter, add flour and mix well, slowly stir in the milk (from the chicken, you may need a drop more depending on how big chicken pieces are) and bring to the boil, reduce heat and keep whisking until thick and gooey like, add 3/4 both cheeses
5) Either boil/ microwave/ steam the brocoli until al dente (about 6 mins)
6) Line a suitable tin/ dish with the lasagne sheets
7) Mix the brocoli, chicken, garlic, shallot & sage into the sauce, season to taste
8) Pour over the lasagne sheets and repeat with each layer until used up
9) For the last layer, place lasgane sheets over and use the last of the sauce or press down until sauce bubbles over (be careful!), top with remaining cheese
10) Cook in the middle of the oven for aprx 35 mins or cooked through and goldeny brown all over
Really is yummy and get good feed back even from fussier persons!
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