Sunday, 30 October 2011

Penne with Minted Courgette, Pancetta and Mushroom Sauce

I frequently find the best kind of meals are ones that are thrown together out of desperation due to sudden changes to my plans. This lovely little pasta dish was born out of such a situation, and is most definitely my favourite lunch I've eaten this week! It certainly beats hands down the questionable Prawn jacket potato I ate in a cafe the other day, which literally was as it reads. I know I'm not hugely keen on mayo but surely a little sauce even to compensate the rather bland prawns would have improved things!  

Anyway, back to this lovely pasta! Previous attempts at trying to make myself enjoy wholemeal pasta have failed, however with a certain supermarket reducing bags of it to clear at 22p, I thought I would try again, and in this recipe I think I've finally cracked it! For once I embraced the nuttiness of it, though do feel free to make it with regular penne if you are not a convert.

One of my favourite vegetables are mushrooms, closely followed by courgette, so a combination of the two means it already a keeper! The rest came about as to what I fancied and what was lurking in the fridge! I find the little pots of pancetta cubes such a handy standby in the fridge and are great for a quick meal, and pesto is a saviour for these types of dishes as its just so versatile! The sauce is ready in the time it takes to boil the pasta, what's not to like?

This is what my lunch looked like today:

Friday, 28 October 2011

Roasted Carrot and Pesto Risotto

Oh my oh my oh my – a dish that admittedly sounds a bit hmm but tastes a lot of mmm!

This risotto was born out of a cupboard scratch around (hello to my 77p bank balance!) and is arguably one of my new favourites! It has a delicate balance of flavours, and is oh so perfect for warming up with on these sudden chilly nights! Oh for my hands to warm just for once please! Roll on summer 2012!

The risotto is so cheap to make but doesn't taste it and it won’t be long before I will be cooking this one again!

Serves 2-3


4 small to medium sized carrots (mine came from Osterley park farm shop – can highly recommend!)
1 large white onion, finely diced
150g arborio rice
½ glass vermouth
A 1cm slice of garlic butter
Spray oil
1 vegetable knorr stock pot, dissolved in 1.25 litres of boiling water
3 heaped teaspoons green pesto
2 generous tbsp. of freshly grated grana padano

Pre-heat you oven to 180o

Firstly, sauté your onion over a moderate heat in the garlic butter and a good few sprays of oil, until softened but not too golden.

Meanwhile spray a little more oil on a baking tray, take 4 carrots, chop into half, then halve again, and cut into ½ cm or so dice. Place on oiled tray and squirt with another 4-5 sprays of oil. Roast for 20 minutes, giving a shake halfway

When the onion has softened, add the vermouth and allow the alcohol to burn off, stir in the rice and a ladle of stock. Simmer over a gentle heat until absorbed, and repeat until the rice is cooked through- I like mine fairly soft, around 25 minutes. Use a little more hot water if needed to loosen the rice.

When the ‘base’ is ready, stir in the carrots and pesto, plus most of the cheese, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately garnished with any remaining cheese.

I daresay some pretty little herb leaves would finish this dish off perfectly, but sadly it was not in the budget!

Reheats very well the next day!

Monday, 24 October 2011

The evolution of Apple, Oat and Nutmeg Fairy Cakes

I’ve been in two minds on whether to publish this one as the fairy cakes came about during a moment of madness (or perhaps genius?!). Whilst moving house, I found lots of odd bits and bobs in the dried good boxes and fancying a bit of cake one afternoon (just for a change haha) I decided to tart up a basic batch of fairy cakes

For the most part, I am fairly confident with the traditional baking flavours combinations but sometimes the old brain cells go a little crazy and hence these apple and nutmeg cakes were born!

My first instinct flavour wise was more towards the warming spice cinnamon, as what goes better than apple and cinnamon? Though unfortunately I realised mid baking that I couldn't find said cinnamon, mainly as I had forgotten that I had lent it to my mum! I did however find some ground nutmeg and after holding the jar precariously above the mixing bowl debating its addition, I decided why not; its worth a shot, surely? Both are warming spices …

The second additional ingredient was some toasted oats. Prior to the fairy cake idea, I was thinking along the lines of something crumble-y though I didn’t have enough apple, but still fancied an apple/ oat mixture, mainly as anything with oats in it is highly appealing to me. And so also on a whim I quickly browned some rolled oats in the microwave, then promptly singed my fingers testing if they were in fact browned, yep they were! In case you try and repeat this stage, gloves are advisable!

And last but not least, going back to the earlier apple mention, I didn’t actually have any apples, just a jar of apple sauce that had also migrated with me and needed using up, so thinking it wouldn’t do any harm I added a few generous tablespoons to the bowl. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I was quite sure I had noted a few American baking recipes involving apple sauce so its addition seemed fairly logical, compared to the nutmeg and oat additions...

Sixteen minutes later and a kitchen smelling rather mmm they were ready, and when just about cool enough to handle I tucked in. And then I remembered I am not actually that fond of nutmeg. It has its place don't get me wrong, though for me, in these cakes it wasn’t one of them. However, the girls at work and my mum really did enjoy them, so at least they were not a complete write off!

I shall be remaking these fairy cakes again, with the apple sauce, as it kept them moist, and the oats as their toastiness added another sort of nutty dimension to the mix but above all I will be definitely reclaiming the cinnamon from my mum!

Awful picture but custard is the saviour of all puddings I think!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Pork Korma with Potatoes and Spinach

There is something I need to say first about this recipe. Its not Korma as you know it. I generally avoid any of the heavy, cream laden Indian recipes, and so Korma’s as a result have never really appealed to me. In fact my stomach recoils in horror to be honest at the thought of actually eating one! However, this recipe is a real exception as I completely love it! Out goes the cream, in comes yoghurt, ground almonds and pork mince!

A few months back I was given for my birthday a voucher for WH Smith’s and spent a good hour happily perusing their cookery section, and finally settled on a copy of Readers Digest Healthy One Dish Cooking much to the relief of my poor family members waiting patiently... 

Now the one thing I must mention about the book is that the title for me was a little misleading, I used at least four dishes whilst making this recipe, however it does all end up in one dish so technically is correct…!

Quite often after getting a new cookery book, and lots of reading through, despite the original appeal it ends up being neglected but I made this curry within days of buying the book, and I've cooked it again several times since! Infact I am getting impatient to make it again, will have to squeeze it into my meal planner somewhere! 

I love the mildness of the dish, the gentle aromatic flavour from the mild spicing, and more importantly how you can have seconds without feeling too guilty! It also reheats very well the next day, as it allows the flavours to mingle nicely together. The third time around I added a little ground turmeric for colour and I think its definitely worth adding some!

The yoghurt/ cornflour/ almond stage of the recipe felt a bit wrong when making and I was rather worried the first time around but please bear with it, as it will honestly be so good!

The book actually contains lots of very tasty looking recipes, all low in fat etc but still remaining highly appealing! Definitely worth a flick through and I am planning to cook a lot more from it.

Serves 4, generously

2 large onions. sliced
450g lean Pork mince
300ml low fat natural yoghurt
75g Ground almonds
600ml hot Chicken stock
25g toasted flaked almonds
750g small new potatoes, havled
250g young leaf Spinach (I thawed frozen spinach, more economical!)
2 crushed garlic cloves
2 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp Cumin seeds
8 green Cardamoms, crushed and pods discarded (I.e. keep the seeds!) 
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp ground turmeric - optional

1) Heat the oil in a large saute pan or casserole and cook the onions over a medium heat for around 10 minutes or until softened and lightly browned, transfer to a bowl for later

2) Using the same pan, add the pork, garlic, cardamom and cumin seeds, cook for 5 minutes, stirring often to break up the mince. 

3) Return half of the reserved onions to the pan, the turmeric if using, the stock and cover, bring to the boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes

4) Add the potatoes and bring back to a simmering point, then re-cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, around 20 minutes.

5) Blend the cornflour to a paste with 6 tbsp of the yoghurt and the ground almonds. Stir into the curry and bring gently to the boil, stirring, simmer for a further minute to thicken slightly. Season to taste

6) Add the spinach leaves, reserving a few smaller ones for garnishing. *if using frozen, add at the end of stage five and cook for around 3 minutes to heat through*

7) Mix the remaining onions with the toasted almonds, serve the curry garnished with this and the reserved spinach leaves.

Serve immediately, you probably won't want to eat much more with it as its pretty filling but I have served up naan's and also I've made chickpea flatbreads, which were good for dunking!

*According to the book its 552 cals and includes 2 of your 5 a day :)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Creamy Turkey and Broccoli Pasta bake

My dearest readers - apologies but this is yet another meal I cooked from the previously unpublished archives but it doesn’t mean it was a bad dish by any means, in fact it was rather delicious! Being newly single after many years of cooking for two, and more, along with working overtime, and studying, it doesn't leave much time for cooking anything particularly new and blogworthy but I will be back in gear soon now things are falling into place, and come November I am hoping to bring you some rather exciting posts that I have lined up, so please bear with me! 

As previously mentioned on Anne's Kitchen, I am a big fan of turkey - providing it is of course cooked well! We all have had experiences I am sure of suffering dried up turkey for three weeks post the Christmas season; however it doesn’t have to be that way! One bonus of turkey being so lean, is that you can sort of justify adding more cheese or other naughty but nice delights to the dish, its all about balance you know ;-)

This rather economical pasta bake was made with strips of turkey breast, I gently fried them until golden brown, then mixed into a white sauce, which was made using a mixture of milk and vegetable stock (made from Marigold bouillon), plus a little wholegrain mustard to give it a boost in flavour. To be honest nowadays if I can get away with adding wholegrain mustard to a dish, it goes in! The broccoli was added to fusilli pasta when it was nearly cooked, to save on using an extra pan, and was from the freezer. Frozen broccoli is not my favourite of frozen vegetables, however used in this manner you really can't tell the difference and its about a third cheaper compared to fresh, plus no chopping involved!

Once everything was mixed in nicely, it was topped with a generous helping of grated mature cheddar and baked until all golden and crispy on top. 

I can’t honestly remember any exact quantities but I do remember it tasting good, and I always feel pasta bakes don’t require exact measurements, just go with the flow and hopefully the above rough instructions give you an idea!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Philly Meatball Pasta

This recipe originates from a recipe card, sent through months back from the nice people at Golin Harris, on behalf of Philadelphia and I am somewhat overdue in posting!

The meatballs were quick and easy to make, and I really liked the creamy sauce. Its a great work night dinner that doesn’t require too much effort and delivers on flavour! I particularly liked the mustard in the sauce as it gives a gentle kick! I really do find any excuse nowadays to add wholegrain mustard to a dish!

Serves 4

300g linguine (I used spaghetti)
6 cumberland or similar sausages
Splash sunflower oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (I used a red onion instead)
1 clove garlic, sliced
150g light philiadelphia
2tsp wholegrain mustard
75ml approx. beef stock
1 tbsp chopped parsley, optional

Boil pasta as per packet instructions

Meanwhile skin the sausges, and roll the meat into small balls. Brown in a pan until cooked through and reserve

Fry the onion and garlic in the pan , until softened. Stir in the philly, stock and mustard and gently warm through. Add the parsley, if using, and the meatballs. Heat through, add to the drained pasta and serve immediately.

Apologies for the bad picture - it looks a lot better in real life!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Why you should always write down what went in..

What type of Blogger are you? Do you get an idea, plan your dish from the start to the final photo, or like me make something, realise its actually rather great then try and remember what went in, and when, then go to take a photo with your lovely new toy but the camera battery has gone dead after being unused since you moved home last month?

Last night I really couldn't decide to what to eat for my dinner. The latest cold that's doing the rounds is trying to sink its teeth into my immune system, which had my head all blurred and I threw together some lentils, frozen spinach and a few other random cupboard finds and prayed a little it would be edible...

And typically it turned out rather blooming tasty and I have only a vague memory of what went in, and when. It's gorgeously creamy, with hints of spice and despite being neat free, is very filling and satisfying.

Fortunately I did have some remaining working braincells and made enough for my lunch today, tomorrow and another stashed in the freezer so I can extend my enjoyment of the dal for a little while longer!

So until I recreate this really rather delicious dal, I shall leave you with a photo to enjoy. Taken from my phone as I've still not charged the camera ;-)

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Creamy Garlic and Herb stuffed Chicken

Firstly, apologies for lack of blogging and visiting everyone elses blogs! Life has once again gotten in the way, plus I’ve not been actually cooking that much... Not that I am eating ready meals by any means but I've not made anything particularly blogworthy!

This is one from my computers archives, I only remembered to take a picture of it before cooking, though it gives you a good idea of how it will turn out! Greed prevailed and it was half eaten when I'd remembered that I had not taken a picture! 

Its not a new idea by any means but sometimes simplicity wins hands down! It is super quick to prepare and very tasty for such minimal effort!

01 09 10