Sunday, 31 May 2009

Picnic Time!

I hope everyone is also basking in the recent glorious sunshine! We have been out to a local picnic spot today and caught a few rays, though even playing catch with a ball proved too much in the heat! This was followed by a well earned cold bottle of beer in the local pub! Am hoping it stays gorgeous for my lovely Aunties forthcoming wedding this Saturday!

Amongst our various picnic foods, I made a delicious and easy potato salad, and some miniature bacon and spring onion quiches, which went down really well!

I split the bacon mix between both dishes but you could just use it all in either, depending on your preferences.

Trim the fat of 3 smoked bacon rashers, dice into 1/2 cm pieces. Take 2 spring onions, slice thinly, reserving the greener part, fry the bacon for a couple of minutes until it takes on a little colour and is cooked through, add the spring onion whiter parts, fry for a further 30 seconds and remove from the heat, allow to cool a little.

Potato Salad with mint and peas

Boil until cooked through approx 500g baby new potatoes, diced into 1cm cubes, 3 minutes before the end add a handful of frozen peas and drain well. Whilst still warm, drizzle over some good EVOO, a scattering of fresh mint leaves roughly shredded, season with sea salt and black pepper, add 1 tbsp of the bacon mix and allow to cool. This is great warm or cold for your picnic!

Bacon and spring onion mini Quiches

These are a bit of a time-cheat as they are pastryless, thus saving time in the kitchen in this beautfiful weather and also a little lighter to eat.

Pre-heat the oven to 190o. Take a deep muffin tin and use baking parchment squares to line 4 holes, my squares measured at 15 x 16cm.

In a bowl beat 2 eggs with 3 tbsp half-fat creme fraiche, season with black pepper, grate 50g cheddar and add 2/3 to the mixture, add the remaining bacon mix, beat well and pour into the 4 lined holes, top with remaining cheese and green spring onion bits, bake for 18-20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean, they should be golden brown and puffed up, though will sadly sink on standing, allow to thoroughly cool before refridgerating. These were delicious and so easy, you could easily swap the bacon for either tuna or cooked red peppers.


Apologies for lack of posting lately, am still on the job hunt and have also been on a bit of a healthkick so not been cooking anything particularly blogworthy or droolworthy! However there have been a few interesting freezer meals, you know the kind that comes about from freezing odds and ends, then trying to work out how to use it up so far was spicy cheese on toast that was courtesy of leftover frozen pizza topping, an odd bag of grated frozen cheese (no idea how old but worked perfectly!) and sliced jalepenos from the fridge!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Mediterranean Vegetable Polenta Cakes

I was unsure how to describe these...they are not cakes in the sweet sense but are shaped that way..answers on a post card??

These were made as a result of prior shopping trip by myself which resulted in arriving home with a packet of instant polenta....this considering I had never eaten, nor used it before.... However it was reduced to clear for 25p and I couldn't resist at that price! Is anyone else guilty of doing this? Just in case you would like to make these, its still on the market (I checked!) so not sure why it was discounted other than it was a small branch of a supermarket...

As per their website, this product is wheat, nut and gluten free so suitable to those with dietary restrictions

These quantities will make 2 little 'cakes' which you could serve either one as a vegetarian starter or two for a main, maybe with a little salad or extra garnish. They are very tasty and I hope you enjoy them too!

You will need 2 shallow chef rings or egg rings or a similar product to shape them.

The polenta cooks and sets very quickly so make sure everything is ready to go!!

50g quick cook Polenta
1 courgette
4 ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered
Olive oil
Parmesan or vegetarian equivalent
2 tsp mediterranean seasoning (mine is Tesco's Couscous seasoning)
200ml boiling water

Heat a saucepan with a drizzle of olive oil, dice the courgette into small chunks and fry for about 10 minutes or until they have a nice brown colour, add the tomatoes and fry for a further minute, tip into a bowl.

Using the same pan, add the boiling water and seasoning, bring back to the boil, quickly stir in the polenta, constantly stirring, re-add the vegetables, mix well and cook for a further minute, add about 2 tsp freshly grated parmesan*, now working quickly tip half the mix into each mould, use a spatula to press down and quickly remove the ring. Garnish with fresh mint and extra parmesan if desired.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Preemio Blogger Award

I have the lovely and already dear friend Holler over at the fabulous vegetarian blog Tinned Tomatoes to thank for this shiny new award. Please check out her blog and drool over her recipes, as I reguarly do! In particular her recipe for Cookies with Pistachio nuts and M&M's has me wanting to lick the screen!

In return for this award, I have to post 7 random things...

1) I need no excuse to add chilli to my food, much to the dismay of my chilli hating boyfriend!

2) I love white chocolate mice over any other sweet...growing up my mum was a childminder and I remember she used to buy the huge tubs and hide them, in turn using them as a bribe for us to be good!

3) I prefer washing up to drying up, my least favourite chore! Making mess in the kitchen is so good until reality sets in!

4) I hate driving, despite driving for the last 10 years I would be happy to never drive again!

5) I normally have my head in a book, or two and read all types, though crime and mystery are my favourite genre (other than food books of course!)

6) During a game of monopoly yesterday we managed to bankrupt the bank, a first I believe!

7) I'm going to be a bridesmaid for the very first time in 2 weeks!!!

And now its over to the following 7 great blogs, who I challenge to now post 7 random things about themseves! Please do check out their blogs :-)

Beth at Jam and Clotted Cream

Kavey at Kaveyeats

Bron at Practically Daily

Janet at

Sam at Antics of a Cycling Cook

Djkrysa at Culinaria Italia

Last but not least, the lovely Nicola at Cherrapeno</

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Chocolate Mint Rice Pudding - Slow Cooker Recipe

Firstly, apologies for severe lack of posting of late, and visits to all your blogs! Am still job hunting whilst trying not to up the electricity bill!

Secondly, this dish is delicious but does not maketh a pretty photo! It really reminds me of chilli...

As mentioned above with trying to keep our bills low, I dusted off the slow cooker this week for making pudding, a girlfriend was coming around for dinner and I thought chocolate rice pudding would be a treat! The mint inspiration came about when I had assembled the pudding and was about to put the lid on the slow cooker - the fresh mint plant sitting on the windowsill suddenly caught my eye!

This makes 3 portions, though we were greedy and ate it all between the two of us...

40g pudding rice
450ml milk
3 tbsp dark soft brown sugar
2 heaped tsp cocoa powder
1 x 5 inch sprig of fresh mint (kept whole)

Heat the milk and cocoa powder together until just under boiling point, pour into the slow cooker, which needs to be on the 'low' setting (some slow cookers may require pre-heating so do check )

Add in the remaining ingredients and put your feet up! After an hour or so remove the mint and leave for a further 3 hours or until the pudding is all gooey and most of the liquid has been absorbed

This makes a gooey, mint-chocolatey pudding and as delicious as it smells when cooking please do allow it to cool a little before tucking in!

Monday, 4 May 2009

Coconut chilli prawns with cumin Puri's

Apologies for lack of recent postings and blog visits, I have been cooking a few new dishes but lacking in time to post! Unfortunately a new job I had lined up has just fallen through and am now again on the hunt for another one ... Good news though its my birthday this week and we are off to see Chicago in London, am really looking forward to it!

I had to make a few amendments to the ingredients in this recipe to save buying in new, as am skint until I get some money through! A lot of the ingredients were in my fridge anyway and the prawn's came via a previously frozen bargain! Another great value dish I made this week was bbq sausage meatballs and pasta, unfortunately I didn't write any quantities down but will re-make and post soon!!

Both of these dishes are taken from Rick Stein's newst book Coast to Coast, which is a lovely collection of his favourite dishes, from all over the world. A great addition to any book shelf!

The prawn curry part is very easy, delicious and great for a work night, though the puri's will require a little more time and effort. Its best to read this before attempting to cook after sorry to my poor friend who waited patiently to be fed! I have marked this recipe as under 30 minutes if you are just doing the prawn part. The picture doesn't do it justice really!

Coconut Chilli prawns

Serves 4 (I approximately halved it)

3 tbsp sunflower oil
2 1/2 cm piece fresh ginger, finely grated (the Fine Microplane is ideal)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp ready made rogan josh paste or (the book also refers to a Goan masala paste, though I actually used Patak's Balti paste which I thought was perfect!)
450g large raw prawns
50g creamed coconut, roughly chopped
150ml hot water
2 tbsp chopped coriander (I left out, though think would be great if you did have some in)
2 red birds eye chillies (I used a 1/2 a red chilli, with seeds)
2 spring onions, thinly sliced (forgot these!)

Cumin Puri's

100g wholemeal flour + extra for dusting
100g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sunflower oil + extra
1 tsp cumin seeds
150ml water

Make the puri's first by sifting flours and salt together, add the oil and mix together with your fingers, add the cumin seeds. Slowly add the water until you have a soft and sticky dough, turn out onto a well floured surface and need for 5 minutes. (I had to add more flour as was too wet to handle but think I over measured the liquid, I must get around to buying a new measuring jug!) Rub the ball of dough with a little oil and place in a clean bowl, cover with a tea towel or similar and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat your grill to high. I have an electric grill, which isn't particuarly great but eventually does the job! Place the dough back on floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes, divide into 12 pieces and roll out into 12.5cm discs, brush lightly with oil and grill for a minute on each side, or until they are browning, you will probably need to do this in several batches.

Now the easy part! Heat the 3 tbsp of oil in a frying / saute pan, add ginger and garlic and fry for 30 seconds. Add the curry paste and cook for a couple of minutes, add the prawns and cook until pink, add the coconut and the hot water, stir well until melted, simmer for a minute, add the coriander, chillies and spring onions, serve immediately with the puri's.

The coconut chilli prawn's were so tasty and the sauce was full of flavour - perfect to mop up with the puri's! We had on the side my new favourite dish of courgettes, sliced into chunks and gently fried with olive oil and fresh mint, which all worked surprisingly well together!
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