Saturday, 27 November 2010

Salmon with warm Chickpea, Pepper and Spinach Salad

I spotted the other week that BBC Good Food were offering their Healthy Eating app to download for free for a short time only, and having just come into the world of ‘apps’ it was quite a novelty to me! And of course, free is always good!

Shortly after loading it, I spotted this appealing, simple recipe for a Warm Salmon and chickpea salad. Its very easy to make, even at 9pm at night after a busy shift at work and also light enough to eat that time of night!

I daresay this is more a summery dish but on a cold winters day the colours were bright and appealing to both the eyes and tastebuds! It also made for a delicious cold lunchbox filler, much to the envy of my colleagues! I didn’t have any baby spinach as stated, as I was using up some leftover from a veggie curry, however I just de-stalked it and shredded it up slightly, which worked just as well!

Admittedly, I did make a slight mess of the Ipod whilst making dinner; following the instructions but nothing a wet wipe can’t undo! It felt quite strange cooking from the app, rather than a book or sheet of paper but was fun at the same time!

Makes 2 (though I halved for the two occasions I cooked this)
20 minutes, Easy

2 x 140g salmon fillets
1 tbsp Extra virgin Olive oil
Pinch Smoked paprika
100g baby/ young spinach leaves
400g can chickpeas
1 large red pepper
½ lemon, zest and juice

Pre-heat grill to high. Destalk and quarter the pepper, turn over and squish down to flatten, grill for 5 minutes until slightly blackened and transfer immediately to a food bag or similar, allow to cool. Remove the skin and slice thinly

Season with salt and pepper, then grill the salmon for 5 minutes, or depending on thickness of your fillets, meanwhile gently heat the chickpeas in their juices. Whisk together the oil, smoked paprika and lemon juice and zest. Place the spinach on a serving plate, add the red pepper strips to the drained chickpeas, and half the dressing, mix together and spoon over the spinach. Top with the salmon fillet and drizzle over remaining dressing.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Bramley Apple Bundt Cake

This new, and favourite cake recipe came about last week after having 2 bramley apples left to use up from a bag I'd been given, a last minute invite to family to come over for dinner, and being unable to quickly locate a recipe I liked/ had the ingredients for; I adapted a basic sponge recipe into this delicious apple cake, it came out far better than I had anticipated and made for a moist and delicious treat, best served warm with lashings of custard or even cold for breakfast the next morning!

With regards to the cake sticking to the tin, I still haven’t found a failsafe way to line a bundt tin (Lakelands – please make a suitable liner!) so it did stick a little in parts, but with custard poured over it on serving up, it masked a multitude of sins!!
I honestly think this is one of the nicest cakes I have made, it ticked all the boxes for me and I greedily polished the remains off with an alarming speed!
Requires 1 Bundt tin (round with a funnel in the middle)

2 medium sized bramley apples
3 eggs – about 195g
195g self raising flour
195g butter/ stork margarine
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp baking powder
2 tbsp demerara sugar
195g light brown muscavado sugar
Juice of one small lemon

Pre-heat the oven to 160 fan, 180 standard
Grease and flour your tin, sprinkle over 1 tbsp of the demerara sugar. Core, peel and slice your apples into roughly 2 cm slices, about 1/2 cm thick, and toss in the lemon juice, use a few to make a thin layer over the sugar:

Cream the butter and muscavado sugar together, beat in the flour, cinnamon and baking powder, then the eggs one by one, until all mixed together, spoon over 1/2 the mixture over the base. Make a layer with the remaining apples and remaining demerara sugar:

Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until springy to touch and a skewer comes away clean. Allow to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes, carefully turn upside down onto a cooling rack, my tin has a springform clip which helps to loosen. Gently tap it until it releases, a teaspoon will help loosen any stubborn parts! Mine did break a little but as mentionned above, custard does a great cover up!

Here's a picture showing the apple layer inside:
I accept no responsibility if you eat it all in one sitting.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Potato, Parsnip and Smoked Bacon Rosti

I had a battle of wills with this blog post - I have four recipes to bring you and really couldn't decide which to post first!

These Rosti were more fridge surprise, than a planned meal, as I had one lonely baking potato, a bag of parsnips I had bought reduced and some bacon leftover from breakfast, in my head it made sense and I'm glad I made them! The flavours all worked well together and also I got to play with my new coarse grater from Jamie Oliver's range, it did a fantastic job and made light work of the grating, normally a job I try to avoid! I currently have several well used and loved microplane graters, including a coarse one but I prefer the size of the grated item using this, as it made nice big curls and was perfect for Rosti's.

I made four Rosti out of the mixture, though think was a bit over generous with filling the shaping rings, as were very fiddly to turn over! I think the mix would make 8 thinner ones happily and be a bit more crispier.


3 rashers smoked bacon
1 baking potato, about 200g, coarsely grated
1 large parsnip, coarsely grated
½ white onion, coarsely grated
Few pinches fresh Thyme leaves
Tbsp grana padano, grated
1/4 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, about 8 twists/ 1/4 tsp

Firstly, using a large frying pan to cook the bacon rashers until crispy, remove the pan from the heat and drain the bacon on kitchen paper, once cool enough to handle roughly chop and reserve to one side

Next up, grate the potato, unpeeled into a clean tea towel, wring out well and place in a mixing bowl:

Then grate the parsnip and add to the potato mix:

Add the bacon, thyme, grated onion and cheese to the bowl, season and mix well:

Pre-heat the oven to 170 fan/ 190 and line a baking tray

Return the frying pan to the hob and heat to medium temperature, add a drop of olive oil and either using metal cooking rings or by free-form, spoon a couple of tbsp of the rosti mix into rounds, cook for about 4 minutes, gently turn over using a fish-slice or similar tool, and fry for a couple more minutes until golden, transfer to the baking tray and bake for a further 10 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. They will stick a little so do be careful turning! Crispy bits are good though so do not fear!

The pictures are not flattering, the dark nights and kitchen lighting do not make much shine, however they do taste great so thats all that matters surely?!

I served the rosti alongside sausages, though even on their own would be good! Following working two  night shifts, my brain had gone a bit crazy and I did make alongside them a spiced apple compote, unfortunately I couldn't get the flavours quite right so it was abandoned, though will attempt again at some point as thinking it may make a nice sauce for them..

Monday, 15 November 2010

Sausage and Mustard Casserole

Growing up I never liked mustard but over the last year or so I have become rather fond of the stuff and now seem to be adding it to everything! One of my favourites so far is wholegrain mustard, I like the flavour it brings and the fact its not too hot! I'm not sure yet really how brands compare, so just use your judgement when adding the mustard to the dish.

This warming winter casserole is perfect for keeping out the cold on these horrible evenings we've been having lately, a nice big pot of this bubbling away is great to banish those winter blues! 

I used the vegetables that happened to need using up along with some from the freezer, though feel free to play around as to what you have, nothing was really measured sorry as was just thrown together but this is roughly the jist of things! Its easy to make and doesn't require much effort, leaving you plenty of time to snuggle up on the sofa.

Makes 4 generous servings

1 mugful pearl barley, soaked in cold water for a couple of hours if possible, though not essential
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic or 1 frozen tablet (I get mine from the world foods section..)
1 tin of tomatoes with herbs
chicken or pork stock, to cover
6 good quality cumberland or similar pork sausages
1 large parsnip, chopped into small chunks
2 medium carrots, chopped into small chunks
1 mug frozen green beans

1 mug frozen sweetcorn
1-2 tbsp wholegrain mustard - to taste
2 tsp dried mixed herbs, plus some fresh thyme if you have some

Using a large casserole dish or similar pan, brown the onions with the sausages and 1 tsp olive oil, remove the sausages from the pan and chop into chunks, removing skins if they are bit papery and reserve to one side.

Add the garlic, carrots and parsnips to the onions, gently cook for about 10 minutes, adding a little stock if needed to loosen, add the barley and tomatoes, cover with stock and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionaly.

Add the sausages, herbs, frozen vegetables, mustard and a little more stock if required, it shouldn't be sloppy nor solid either! Re-cover and gently simmer for a further 20 minutes or until the barley is soft to bite and you are happy with the texture

Serve in deep bowls and fresh bread for dunking

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Blackberry and Apple Crumbles and new Jamie Oliver kitchen toys!

Last week I was a very lucky girl and sent an array of new kitchen gadgets, from the new Jamie Oliver Kitchen kit range! I will admit to being slightly sceptical before receiving them, as to what the quality would be like but have been suitably impressed, all of the items are well made and have a good feel to them. According to the packaging everythings been designed between Jamie Oliver and DKB Household, and  seem to have had real thought put into their development. If you've been watching the latest Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals, Jamie has been using these products, which is a good advertisement! I am hoping to bring you a couple of recipes from the book soon too.
This past week, I have been putting them all through their paces, before reviewing them, and as with any review I do, I promise to be honest and impartial, I have not personally paid for any of these items or been paid to review them.

Amongst the road testing of the products, I must admit overall I love the knives made from Japanese MoV stainless steel blades, they are really, really sharp, very comfortable to use with a grip handle and make light work of chopping, even cauliflower! They all cut precisely and neatly and are a pleasure to use. They also look rather lovely in their solid beech block:
A bonus is that when they are in the knife block, the handles state which one they are, so you don't have to pull out each one to see what it is, a small thing but very helpful! 
For some time I've been planning to upgrade my old but trusty knives, bought ages back from TK Maxx, which I had thought were pretty sharp...though in comparison to these new Jamie ones, they seem rather blunt!! Now I’ve tested them, I would happily both buy and highly recommend them. You can find a video here on making the most of them.

The first round of testing was making chicken fajitas, I bought some chicken thighs and trimmed and sliced them using the smallest Paring knife, which is normally a lengthy job and a bit fiddly. This knife made light work of them and the results were perfectly trimmed strips of chicken in about half the time! I also sliced up peppers and red onions, both easily and neatly, the knife didn’t slip at all and was like cutting butter it was so easy! No real recipe as such, as I tend to vary it each time but mainly consisted of smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano, ground cumin and ground coriander, bound together lightly with olive oil, delicious they were too!

As I wanted test some more items, I made these lovely Apple and Blackberry crumbles for dessert, which I adapted slightly from this months Delicious magazine. The filling was mostly free as I picked the blackberries from a friends garden and the apples were donated from a family friends garden! You can use normal porridge oats, however I had run out so used a paw-ridge sachet to no ill effect!

Makes 2 individual pie dish sized puddings, Easy

2 Bramley apples, roughly 330g
35g caster sugar
1 tbsp dried cranberries
80g blackberries, frozen is fine
60g plain flour – I used Doves Farm gluten free version
1 sachet porridge oats, about 28g
30g Demerara sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon

Firstly, core and peel the apples. I tested the Twist ‘N’ Slide Apple Corer, I’ve not used a corer since I think I was back at school in food tech classes and it took me a few minutes to work out that this one was special, as after easily impaling the apple, you simply twist the handle, push down lightly and out pops the core! Far safer than getting your fingers wedged in it! Of course I realised afterwards the instructions were on the back of the packet! If I’m being honest, whilst it’s a nifty little toy I’m not sure I need a corer in my life, as I am perfectly happy just chopping an apple up, then removing the core, but if you like your gadgets then it’s a very good one!

I then used the All purpose 3-in-1 peeler, straight blade set which is very sharp! Its excellent as quickly removes the peel, with minimal wastage as it peels very thin slices away, a bonus is the little eyelet on the edge of the blade, its great for removing blemishes quickly and easily.

I’ve not used the other two blades yet but they seem very sharp – my tea towel got nibbled! Initially I found it a little fiddly getting the blades back into the holder, however now I’ve worked how to do it, I like it a lot more!

Dice the peeled, cored apples into small chunks and place in a saucepan with the caster sugar and cranberries, gently heat for about ten minutes or until the apples are softening and break under light pressure, remove from the heat and stir in the blackberries. Transfer to your baking dish or dishes.

Pre-heat the oven to 160 fan/ 180 regular

Rub together the flour and butter, to form fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the oats, Demerara sugar and cinnamon, use your fingers to pinch into little nuggets, sprinkle over the fruit and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool a little before serving with either custard or cream.

Thanks to Aaron Huckett at Publicasity.

**updated 03/05/2012 - Everything is still going strong! The knives and grater are still a joy to use!**

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Nigella's Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Potatoes

After seeing this recipe cooked on the recent TV series by Nigella Lawson, I just knew I had to make it soon! I prefer chicken on the bone in general, love both chorizo and potatoes, what more could I ask for?

The best part about this dish is how easy it is to make, as in theory its just chicken pieces, the potatoes, sliced chorizo, bit of onion and a twist of orange and whacked in the oven, however that would be far to easy for me and I decided instead to buy and joint two whole chickens instead, as they were on offer...needless to say I'm never going to win any prizes for butchery but it worked out at very good value, as I now have a sort-of-crown of chicken in the freezer for next time and we had enough meat leftover for our lunchboxes, and this was after feeding five of us with this dish! I also managed to pretend I was a sort of Nigella by using my old favourite Joseph & Joseph chopping board! Though she does luckily seem to have them in every colour going, mine is plain old white!

Unfortunately I still have not managed to work out a way to get the pictures from my Iphone to here, without distorting so they do not show the dish in its best light, however it really was delicious so I urge you to try it! If anyone has any suggestions please let me know! Edited: Have cracked it now thanks :)

This bad picture is the two assembled trays, ready to go into the oven. The recipe calls for red onions but I managed to forget and buy white ones, this was also down though to me deciding to cook this for dinner, halfway around Tesco's and trying to remember the ingredients!


What really lifts the whole dish is the orange zest, it gives the dish a subtle hint and helps to cut through the lovely reddish orange paprika-hued oil and juices, without tasting too orangey!
The smell when this is cooking in the oven really gets your tastebuds going and had us all eagerly waiting it to be cooked through, so much so this is the final picture, inside my oven! Just couldn't wait to take pictures sorry!

This is the recipe, which I roughly followed, mainly from memory. It says about basting halfway through, though I did it every 5-10 minutes as it looked a little dry on top.

2 x 15ml olive oil
12 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on - mine was a mix of thighs, legs and wings
750g chorizo sausages, baby ones or cut up - not sure if this a typo, I used a 250g packet and seemed about right..
1kg new potatoes, halved
2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tsp dried oregano
grated zest of 1 orange - I used two though as mine were quite petite

Pre-heat oven, 220o/ fan 190o

Oil the chicken, place in two baking trays, divide the remaining ingredients between and bake for an hour or so, turn the trays around in the oven, swapping shelves if needed and baste. Though I did it every 5-10 minutes as it looked a little dry on top. And thats it! How easy and simple, for a really delicious dinner too!

I also seasoned the dish with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, though realised after it was not stated in the original recipe, not sure if I imagined her doing it perhaps?

A salad would be nice with this, however it was a cold night and I did buttered savoy cabbage instead, plus a tray of roasted red and yellow peppers,with garlic and a pinch of smoked paprika over, which was a great side dish.

And of course I just had to snap this little fella!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Cranberry and Orange Brownies

Mmm brownies! Don't they smell so good when cooking? Believe me they smell even more heavenly if you throw some chocolate scented with orange oil into the equation! I was stalking the cooling rack rather impatiently, waiting in anticipation for them to be cool enough to eat and handle!
I nearly always bake the brownies from BBC Good Food but decided to try a different recipe for a change, which called for just the chocolate and no cocoa powder or other enhancers, as I wanted to see how the chocolate performed on its own. Also, a 50g quantity of chocolate helped as I had already started nibbling on this lovely chocolate before deciding to test it in a recipe! There was one square left as this goes to print..

Brownie recipe adapated from Just Like Mother Used To Make, by Tom Norrington-Davies

125g unsalted butter, plus a little extra to grease your pan (or cheat and use silicon 'tin' and baking parchment sheets!)
50g bitter chocolate, I used Orange Mantra
50g self-raising flour
pinch salt
125g caster sugar
25g dried cranberries (original recipe calls for 125g broken walnut pieces but have a guest with nut allergy so steered clear!)
2 large eggs beaten
drop vanilla essence (I use extract)

Pre-heat your oven 180o/ 160o fan/ 350f. Grease/ line a 8inch baking tin/ tray
Melt the butter, remove from the heat and add broken up chocolate, stirring gently until all melted

Sift the flour, sugar, salt and cranberries. Fold in the butter mixture, then the eggs and vanilla, it will look quite runny at this stage!

Pour into your tin and bake for up to 30 minutes or until soft in the middle and appear cooked through. Allow to cool in the tin until mixture slightly comes away from the sides, transfer to a cooling rack, cut into desired shape and go wait in another room until cooled down or you will have burnt fingers and tongue.

The brownie texture reminded me a little of the kits I remember my mum buying when I was young, which came complete with a little cardboard tray for baking them in! Fortunately they are good memories but rather improved, as these ones were quite moist and unburnt in comparison! The beautiful Orange Mantra chocolate, which can be found at Chocolate and Love's website really did shine but with divided guest opinions, if you are a die-hard milk chocolate fan these brownies are probably not going to be your cup of tea, however if you like the dark side, I thoroughly recommend!

I had attempted to use my new Ipod touch to take the pictures of these but not a great success, will go back to old phone I think!

Just look at the pretty packaging:
What's more its Organic, fair trade, dairy, gluten, GMO free and suitable for vegans! (the chocolate, not the brownies sorry!) How can you resist?

Many thanks to Eliza and Chocolate and Love for sending me the gorgeous bars :)

Monday, 1 November 2010

Spiced Carrot and Sultana salad, Lamb Koftas and more!

Following on from the gorgeous Chickpea fritters, these are some of the other dishes I made alongside our feast, though please excuse the awful pictures, the lighting was very bad!

Spiced Carrot and Sultana salad

This makes a tasty, interesting side salad, packed with fresh flavours

200g freshly grated carrot
50g sultanas
Lots of lemon juice (bottled is fine)
½ tsp freshly ground cumin seed
½ tsp freshly ground coriander seed
¼ tsp chilli powder
1 tsp runny honey
1-2 tsp dried oregano
S&P, to taste
1-2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil, preferably a nice fruity one

Simply mix together all the ingredients, adding lemon juice to taste and enough oil to make it glisten! It is really worthwhile grinding the spices freshly, I used my latest kitchen toy. This salad is best made several hours ahead so that the flavours can infuse together.

The salad is shown in the middle of the dish, we also had some surprisingly good olives from my local Budgen's, mini cheese kabanos, roasted peppers and my precious jar of Caponata that I had been saving, which I bought at a food festival back in the summer, which was really tasty, must remember to buy more jars next time!

Moroccan Spiced Courgettes

This is probably best made with smaller courgettes than I used, as I had to adjust the cooking time by at least double! The recipe is taken from the ‘Best of Morocco’ book. Think I still need to adjust time/ temperature slightly as was only just about cooked through but overall the dish was pretty well received – it was all eaten so always a good sign!

500g small courgettes
Lemon juice, chopped fresh coriander and parsley, to serve

For the Charmoula:

1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves
¼ red or green chilli, seeded and sliced
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 190o/ 350F

Cut the courgettes lengthways and place in a baking dish, snugly together

Blend together the Charmoula ingredients with 60ml water, spoon over the courgettes and cover with foil. Bake for 15 minutes, baste and un-cover and cook for 5-10 minutes more (or in my case about 35 minutes more!) Serve with the lemon, coriander and parsley, though I forgot the lemon and not very keen on parsley so just the coriander for us!

The picture isn't pretty but it tasted good!

Lamb Kofta

I used this recipe from BBC food site, minor amendments were that I used smoked paprika instead of the paprika and also added some finely chopped fresh mint leaves, as I just love the combination together!

For the lamb kofta kebabs
500g/17½oz lean minced lamb
3 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic, peeled, chopped
½ chilli, finely chopped
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the grill to high. (not too high though unless you want a very smoky kitchen!)

Place all of the kebab ingredients together in a bowl and mix together with your hands until the meat sticks together.

With damp hands, take a handful of the kebab mixture and shape into a long sausage shape around a metal skewer. Repeat with the remaining kebab mixture, using a new skewer each time (or fit two kebabs onto each skewer, if space allows).

Place the skewers under the grill for 10-12 minutes, turning them halfway, until the lamb is golden-brown and cooked through. Slide the kebabs off the skewers serve.

Spinach Pilaf

Not sure why I haven’t blogged this one before but I also cooked this lovely simple rice dish, just without the lamb addition this time as we were already having the lamb koftas, however I can recommend the whole recipe for a simple and tasty mid-week dinner!

Serves 4

olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 cardamom pods , lightly crushed
300g basmati rice
550ml chicken stock
100g spinach , washed and chopped

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan, add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until softened then stir in the spices and rice. Pour over the stock, bring to a simmer and cover with a tight-fitting lid.

Turn the heat down and cook gently until all the stock has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir through the spinach for the last minute of cooking until wilted.

Here is a picture of my plate loaded up with everything!

And if you are anything like me, you find the packet of pitta breads in the bread bin, after dinner is finished……
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