Thursday, 30 June 2011

Chicken and Sweetcorn Pie

Oh how I love pie! Previously all my pies were made in my rather lovely and elegant granite Le Creuset pie dish. Well, that is now resigned to the depths of the dusty hallway cupboard (aka Kitchen Narnia!) as say hellloooo there to my new beauty:

I cannot honestly express to you here how much I LOVE this pie dish. Those who know me well know I have a thing for polka dots, and obviously I love baking but combine the two – and well its like Christmas has come early!!

Since being given the beauty last month for my birthday, I had been itching to christen it and finally the day came around when we had friends around for dinner, and I decided to make one of my favourites – chicken and sweetcorn pie! *I do marginally love chicken and mushroom slightly even more but as D detests them, this was the next best thing!*

The pie dish is a little deeper than my old one and I was trying to gauge how much filling to make, in all honesty it was a teeny bit under the rim but was more than enough to feed us four for dinner plus a portion for my lunchbox the next day so isn't far out!

Having been at work all day, I cheated slightly and bought ready rolled puff pastry, which as predicted worked perfectly, though you could of course make your own! I was also a bit lazy and just topped the pie, rather than doing the base as well but as it can be a bit stodgy I was glad to skip this part! Also no blind baking so much more straightforward to make!


5 skinless and boneless chicken thighs, trimmed and diced into ½ inch chunks
½ pint Milk
2 tsp Marigold boullion powder (or veg stock cube) made up with ½ pint boiling water
1 white Onion, finely diced
1 celery stick, sliced thinly
1x 200g tinned sweetcorn
1 Puff pastry sheet
1 tbsp olive oil
1 heaped tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
S&P to taste
2 tbsp cornflour
Egg to glaze – or my new discovery egg glaze from Lakeland!

Pre-heat the oven to 170fan/ 190 regular.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan and soften the onion, without too much browning.

Turn up the heat slightly and brown the chicken in the pan, add a little more oil if needed, and the celery, cook for about 10 minutes or until the chicken has cooked through, add the celery, mix well and transfer to a bowl using a slotted spoon, leaving any juices in the pan.

Mix the cornflour with a little of the milk, to form a paste.

Return the pan to the heat, add the stock and milk, bring to the boil and whisk in the cornflour quickly, until the sauce has thickened, it will happen quickly! Add the reserved chicken mixture, parsley, season and transfer to the pie dish.

Brush the egdes of the pie dish with a little beaten egg (see egg notes!) and affix the pastry sheet over, pressing down firmly to seal. Glaze with the egg and make a couple of holes to allow the steam to escape and bake for approx. 25 minutes or until its all golden and puffed up nicely!

Serve with your favourite vegetables –we had sautéed cabbage and lots of lovely swede mash!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Pouting with Cabbage, Bacon and Beans

A few months back you couldn't go online or read a paper without seeing some kind of reference to Hugh’s fish fight, and rightly so. I was shocked and appalled at how much waste there was within the fishing industry with quotas that seem to be of no use to anyone, least alone the poor fish!

Admittedly I was guilty of buying haddock, salmon and cod, despite being overfished. However, without much personal knowledge about cooking other species, I also slightly ashamedly wasn’t buying anything different at home. Somewhere In the back of mind, along with receiving an excellent Fish book that I will write about shortly, I had vowed to change this, and so last week I was very brave and purchased instead of usual haddock – some Pouting fillets. Unfortunately the fishmonger (it was in Tesco) didn’t know much about it and was trying instead to push the £17 a kilo haddock on me, but with the Pouting at only £5 a kilo, it was infinitely more appealing and so armed with all the knowledge the little placard gave me (I.e. not much) and a newly found confidence I took my fillets home and decided to try out a recipe that had been recommended from the BBC Good Food website!

My fish repertoire is normally limited to baking fillets or poaching, which I do perfectly well but I wanted to liven things up a bit and this recipe allowed me to pan fry the fillets, something of a first for me! It was a little scary but now its done, its certainly something i am no longer in fear of!

Like always I didn’t follow the recipe exactly; I omitted the flageolet beans for cannellini, mainly as I have a thing about them lately, also substituted vermouth for the wine, and accidently bought bacon medallions rather than streaky, so didn’t quite impart the full bacony flavour. Additionally I had to keep the cabbage part bit warm for a little longer than anticipated so lost its shine slightly, however despite all this I do think this recipe is a keeper, and with a little tweaking it could be a very good dish indeed! I really liked the bacon and fish combination, as some time back at a food show I had tried scallops cooked with pancetta, and was very pleasantly surprised at how well it worked together! Now I've finally made this I will be definitely exploring this area of cooking further!

The recipe is easy to make, and ideal for a work night meal, taking no longer than about 30 minutes to assemble and cook.

Serves 2 - original recipes serves 4


2 sustainable white fish fillets, skin on and pinboned (why do I always get the bones?!) - I used Pouting
2 tbsp plain flour
1-2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 savoy cabbage, shredded - use your judgement - my cabbage was a beast so used about a third of it
2 rashers smokey bacon, diced
1/2 onion, finely sliced
1 celery stick - I forgot to buy some!
1 carrot, diced into 1/2 cm pieces
small bunch thyme - I used dried
2 tbsp vermouth
1/2 carton cannellini beans
small knob of butter
150 ml light chicken stock

In a large saute pan, melt the butter and add the bacon, fry for a couple of minutes and then add the carrot, celery and onion, fry for about 8-10 minutes until softened without browning. Add the cabbage, fry for a couple of minutes until just wilted, stir in the vermouth (or wine), simmer until it has evaporated and then add the stock and beans, cover the pan and simmer for a further 10 minutes or until the cabbage is cooked but still  nicely green.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan until bubbling, dust the fish fillets in the seasoned flour and fry skin side down for 4 minutes, until crisp - press down to stop the fish curling up (ideally using a fish slice rather than your fingers!) - turn over and fry until cooked through - about 2-3 minutes, the fish should be opaque and flake easily.

Place the cabbage and its juices into serving bowls, top with the fish and garnish if desired. These are our new pasta bowls - don't you just love a Whittards sale!

The recipe suggests serving with some new potatoes if desired, personally I found it quite filling but served with some freshly baked rolls, which were great for dunking in the juices!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Bulghur Wheat with Feta and Roasted Vegetables

This is a bit of an accidental entry - I had planned to post something else tonight but then spotted over at Cake, Crumbs and Cooking her delicious roasted vegetable and giant couscous salad, which additionally was her No Croutons Required entry - and remembered I'd taken a picture of my lunch today, which just happened to be Bulghur Wheat with Roasted Vegetables and so decided to post this instead! 

Like C has said, I too had been meaning to participate in so many NCR challenges but always missed the deadline, so I'm quite pleased that I spotted her post, and actually had something I could add!

I really enjoyed this salad in my lunchbox; I'd made enough yesterday morning to cover both last nights dinner and today's lunch at work, it travelled well and made a nice change to my usual salad of a few leaves and leftovers, something which had become a bit of a joke in my works staffroom! At least with this I could prove I did not dine solely on cucumber!

Ingredients for 2 lunch servings

100g bulghur wheat
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot, cut into 1 cm dice
1 medium sized courgette, as above
1/2 yellow pepper, cut into chunks
100g feta or similar cheese, cut into 1/2 cm chunks
5 basil leaves, shredded
3 mushrooms quartered
2 tsp marigold bouillon powder

Pre-heat the oven to 180 fan/ 200 regular. Line a baking tray with baking parchment or a silicon sheet and pour on the olive oil

Place all the vegetables on the baking tray, toss well in the oil and roast for approx 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked and golden brown, allow to cool

In a bowl, mix the bulghur wheat with marigold powder, pour over boiling water to cover by about a centimetre, cover with cling film and allow to stand for 15 minutes, remove the cover, stir well - all of the liquid should have been absorbed, allow to cool.

Once everythings cooled down, combine the bulghur wheat, vegetables, cheese, and basil. Either serve immediately or pack into tubs for lunch!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Salmon and Broccoli Risotto

With the events over the past six months or so zapping my energy, amongst other things happening I’ve not been cooking from scratch as much as before, or indeed blogging many of my own recipes.. . However, recently I’ve started to enjoy being properly back in the kitchen again and this is one of my new favourite risottos.

Unfortunately I didn't exactly measure anything, as I wasn't expecting this to be so good, though I will of course update properly when I re-make it! If you're a bit like me and tend to go more by eye, rather than actual quantities it will hopefully make perfect sense to you! If not, then apologies, and I will try and update the exact ingredients shortly!

Firstly, I really liked the appearance of this dish, the soft pinkness of the salmon against the vivid greenery from the broccoli and green beans, it gave it a lovely summery feel to our dinner. Even D who isn’t that much of a salmon fan rather enjoyed this dish too!

Secondly, whilst this dish sounds a little luxurious, it was in fact rather a cheapish dinner using frozen salmon fillets and frozen mixed vegetables!

And thirdly, its delicious!

Served 2, would probably stretch to 3 lesser greedy persons!


2 frozen salmon fillets/ pieces, cooked in microwave as per packet instructions until just cooked through (around 3-4 minutes)
A cereal bowl or so of frozen broccoli, along with mixed farmhouse vegetables such as peas, sweetcorn and carrot mix, steamed
160g Arborio risotto rice
1 small diced white onion
1 tbsp garlic butter (or butter + separate garlic, I was lazy!)
1 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp vermouth I.e. a good splash!
About 1.5 pints light vegetable stock
3 tbsp or so freshly grated parmesan
Fresh basil leaves – around 5-6 finely chopped, plus a couple to make it look pretty at the end
S&P to taste

1) Gently melt the oil and butter together, sauté the onion until softened, but not coloured, add the rice, mix well, add the vermouth, stir well uncovered for a couple of minutes to evaporate. Add a ladleful of hot stock, allow to gently cook away and when the stock has evaporated, repeat this stage until your risotto rice is cooked, and has a creamy texture – anywhere up to 30 minutes or so. Grab yourself a glass of wine and a favourite cookbook to help the process along!

2) When the rice is soft and cooked, break the cooked salmon fillets into small chunks and gently stir into the rice along with the vegetables, being careful not to break it up, gently cook for a couple more minutes to warm through.

3) Remove from the heat and stir the in parmesan to taste and season with salt and pepper, and the shredded basil leaves. The risotto should be creamy consistency.

Serve immediately, garnished preferably with fresh basil leaves

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Winner of Macarons book Giveaway!

Thankyou for all of your entries unto my Macarons book giveaway- I now have a stash of delicious sounding sweet treats so some of you might find an email requesting more recipe information shortly but sadly there can only be one winner - congratulations to entry number 23 - chosen with the help of - the lucky 'Miss Whiplash'! Can Miss Whiplash please send me your details to and I will arrange for delivery.

True Random Number Generator  23Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Joy of Home made (and oven baked!) Scotch Eggs

For months, if not years now I have been meaning to make scotch eggs, they seem to me at least to be coming back into food 'fashion' but mainly the last time I made them was in 'Food Technology' class approximately 15 years ago (how old do I feel right now!) with a girlfriend and I have vague recollections of things exploding in deep fat fryers but overall successful results.... were definitely one of the better cookery class dishes..

Additionally a few months back the lovely Helen bought over a fantastic scotch egg made by her local butchers, which reignited the flames and tonight ...courtesy of my favourite sausage meat from a fantastic local butcher to me, and going on these memories we finally made scotch eggs again!

Whilst I hold no fear of deep fat frying, in the back of my mind trying to be healthy, plus increasing oil costs I decided to try and bake them instead of deep frying, afterall my chicken kievs worked out well being baked the other week so had high hopes for these babies....and ... my oh my why have we waited soooo long!

One picture I think says it all:

 But...that would just be cruel, I guess you wanna see inside too...

These were beasts! Packed to the rafters with perfect, tasty sausage meat encasing a lovely free range egg! Whilst due to our glorious English climate these were not enjoyed as part of the planed picnic in the park, they were no less delicious eaten indoors, and in the dry!

We didn't use a recipe, merely followed our memories and what seemed right, and I wouldn't change a thing! I flattened out a ball of sausage meat on some cling film, popped the soft boiled egg in the middle, then gently shaped the sausage meat around it, then dusted in a flour bath, drenched in egg and then rolled in seasoned breadcrumbs; which were half paxo natural and half Waitrose posh crumbs, plus a little fresh parsley. I sprayed with a little oil then baked for about 30 minutes in a hot oven. Pretty simple, and yet pretty darn good if I say so myself!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Pecan and Marmalade loaf cake

Pecan nuts are one of favourite kind of nuts and when I spotted this recipe in the BBC Good Food Collection book (a very well used book too I might add!) I knew it was calling my name to be baked! Its title in the book is down as Sticky marmalade tealoaf, but I think Pecan and Marmalade loaf cake is a better description, well was for me anyway as the word ‘sticky’ kinda put me off it until I saw the ingredients! By the way the cake is in no way sticky, just gloriously glossy on top! 

I really loved this cake! It was perfectly balanced with the tang of marmalade, a hint of ginger, a little crunch from the pecan’s and bound together with the heady aromas of mixed spice! It smells so good when being baked and is definitely my new favourite cake recipe, it’s also super easy to make!

Another bonus is that the cake also travels very well, if that’s something you have to frequently consider! This one was made to take with me to visit my family down in Devon, and they all thoroughly enjoyed it too. I say this though with slight regret as I would have been quite happy to lock myself away with the cake and not share it! Guess I will just have to bake it again, sigh!

Makes 1 2lb loaf – cuts into about 12 slices


175g butter, softened
3 eggs, beaten
175g light muscovado sugar
225g Self raising flour
140g marmalade (I used my favourite blood orange marmalade!)
½ tsp baking powder
2tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
100g pecan nut halves (I just chopped mine roughly up)

Pre-heat oven to 180o/ gas4/ fan 160o and line a 2lb loaf tin

Set aside 1 tbsp of marmalade into a small saucepan (I have metal cup measurements which are perfect for this job!)

Blend together in a bowl the remaining marmalade, flour, sugar,. Butter, eggs, baking powder and spices, (I used the food processors dough blade!), stir in 2/3 or so of the pecans, saving the remainder to top the cake

Pour into the lined tin, and arrange the remaining pecans on top. Bake in the middle of the oven for 1-1 ¼ hours, or until a skewer comes away clean. Cover the cake about 40 minutes into cooking loosely with foil. When cooked through, transfer to a cooling rack

Heat the reserved marmalade and spread over the top of the cake, I find silicon brushes ideal for this part!

Serve whilst warm and enjoy!

I've also entered this cake at Bookmarked Recipes, thanks to Jacqueline for the reminder, don't forget to check out her fabulous blog and also Ruths Kitchen Experiments who has set the challenge up!

**Don't forget my competition to win a copy of Macarons is still running - you have until 10th of June to enter!**
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