Friday, 30 March 2012

Caramelized Apples with Wholemeal Drop Scones

I was getting ready to post this up last week, and then life typically got in the way and I ended up being rather poorly and stuck in hospital this past week, staring longingly through the window at the glorious sunshine, in between napping anyway! Am sure now I am home it will rain all week!

But enough of the bad stuff, and onto the good stuff! Before going into hospital I finally got around to cooking something from the River Cottage Everyday book, that I was gifted forever back, and loving drop scones so frequently, thought would try out their wholemeal version and pretend to myself its a little healthier! Obviously you can't be good all the time, and whilst they were cooking in the pan I quickly made some caramelised apple slices to go on top!

I'm really not into cereal for breakfast, and these made a welcome breakfast on a lazy morning! I obviously couldn't eat them all in one sitting, and quickly reheated them in toaster over the next two days, so are ideal even if you are just cooking for one, like me. I found them much more filling than the regular ones I make which can only be a good thing!

The apples were made by simply melting a knob of butter with some muscovado sugar, then gently pan frying the slices for around 10 minutes until cooked but not falling apart. Then sprinkled with cinnamon. I think it might have been a granny smith apple...I inherited it as my flatmate was going away at the time! The inspiration for these also came from the same book but pretty much made up as I went along! They were so good and I will definitely make them again!

Makes 20-30 (I halved the mix and got around 18)

250g self raising wholemeal flour
pinch baking powder
pinch sea salt
25g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
275ml milk approx
50g melted butter
a little sunflower oil

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl, stir in sugar. Make a well and add eggs and half the milk, Gently whisk to a thickish paste, slowly incorporating the melted butter and remaining milk until you have a smooth, thick batter.

Heat a large flat or griddle pan, oil a piece of kitchen paper and carefully grease the pan. Add a tablespoon of batter to form a small dics. When bubbles appear, gently flip over and cook for a further minute or until they lift away without resistance. Keep warm in a tea towel whilst cooking the remaining scones. Re-grease pan as needed.

Serve topped with a splodge of yoghurt and the apple!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Prawn and Spinach Baked Gnocchi

Time and motivation have not always been on my side this past few months, and I've swayed from writing out a detailed meal planner for a month, then completely changing my mind and making it up as I go along on the day! On this particular day I really couldn't decide what to make, despite having invited my dad over for dinner. I think I may have originally put something glamorous like tinned soup or cheese and crackers on the planner, and really couldn't offer that up to my guest!

I knew I had spinach in the freezer (so handy) and a bag of some rather lovely jumbo king prawns also in there bought recently on offer, and was trying to decide how to combine them best. One of my favourite dishes is my haddock bake with prawns and spinach, but just wasn't in the mood for it. My mum needed to do some shopping anyway, so after a wander around Sainsbury's I spotted the bags of ready made gnocchi and my mind started doing its usual scheming! Gnocchi are funny little beasts I think, not pasta and not potato either. I do find them rather filling but I was hungry as a horse that day, and decided to experiment! My dad is a good eater and we did eat this between us but you probably could stretch to 3 servings from it. It made a nice change from the more usual pasta bakes I make and everything worked well together.

The only thing I would say is make sure everything is ready to go, and still hot under grill as you are merely finishing the dish off by browning, and not actually baking it. It would probably happily go in the oven for around 20-25 minutes to get the same effect.


2 heaped tbsp. Yoghurt style cream cheese (I like Lidl’s one!) 
225g cooked, peeled king prawns, thawed 
4 blocks of frozen leaf spinach, thawed 
Handful grated cheddar Cheese 
500g ready made gnocchi 

Pre-heat grill to medium hot 

Boil gnocchi for 2 minutes, add the spinach to warm through (or boil separately) and drain, reserving about half a cup of the liquid 

Place the drained gnocchi and spinach in a suitable baking dish (I love my little pyrex one), poke in the prawns. Gently warm through the reserved liquid, season and stir in the cream cheese, pour over the gnocchi, sprinkle with cheese and grill for around ten minutes or until piping hot and all lovely and golden brown 

Monday, 12 March 2012

Carrot, Pepper and Orange Soup

The past few months have taught me that whilst having good quality kitchen equipment certainly helps, and is preferential it is by no means essential. I am currently without my beloved saucepans and have been making do with just my large Meyer sauté and two inherited, very battered, wonky handled and missing lid saucepans. And a warped frying pan! Despite this I’ve made some pretty decent dishes and they certainly have not curbed my cooking! I do frequently now have to check before attempting something that I have the item actually here and not in a friends loft somewhere but overall things have worked out in the end!

This soup was really delicious and so warming on a cold wintery night! It was also a good use of odds and ends – the half an orange was leftover from another recipe, and it really lifted the soup from good to greatness without actually tasting of orange! The gentle spicing from the cumin, ginger and ground coriander made it complete.

Carrots are without a doubt my favourite vegetable since childhood, and about the only fresh vegetable other than onions I buy repeatedly! I love their bright colour, and also the fact the market tend to do a giant tub of them for a pound which lasts me about a month! They are such a versatile ingredient and I love experimenting with them and this soup made good use of them!

A sprinkle of some fresh herbs to make it pretty would have been nice but I loathe paying for the little packets and didn’t have any pots at the time…. Though on the fresh herb front I finally last weekend got round to planting my little set of Jamie Oliver herb tins I was given last Christmas, and in a few weeks from now, crossed fingers, the windowsill be alive with Chives, purple basil and oregano!

Not the prettiest of photos but the pretty bowl I 'inherited' helps to make up for it!

Serves 2-3 and reheats well


4 large carrots, diced
1 orange pepper, diced (am sure yellow or red would be fine here too!)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
Pinch of ground ginger
1 knorr chicken stock pot (or veggie equivalent)
2 tsp flora cuisine or olive oil
S&p to taste
Hot water to cover

Heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic until softened without colouring too much.

Add the pepper and fry for a further two minutes, stir in the carrot, spices and the stock cube/ pot, cover with boiling water by just under 1cm, cover with something suitable (a lid would be perfect here!) bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 25 minutes. 

Blitz with a hand blender or in a liquidiser, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Chocolate and Cheese...

When I first saw ‘Philadelphia with Cadbury’s chocolate’ advertised I must admit I was a rather intrigued by the whole chocolate and cheese combination, and wanted to try it mainly out of curiosity! Then by fate an email popped in my inbox a few days later offering the chance to try it! Obviously I quite happily took them up on the offer and within a couple of days er the tub was empty!

On its own, I found my tastebuds initially a little confused by the milky chocolate and cream cheese flavours together, I think you will either really get it or not at all! I am a closet Cadbury’s fan (shh) but would love to see a darker chocolate version!

However when made up into a pudding of toasted sweet waffles and sliced strawberries it worked a treat! The slight tartness of the fruit offset the sweet chocolate/ cream cheese flavour perfectly and made for a winning combination. Better still dad seemed quite satisfied that this was his pudding!

Whilst it did make a quick 'assembly job' style pudding, I am at heart a snack fiend and this is why I ran out of it so quickly! I adore biscuits and have to apply self control around them, in particular my weakness is dark chocolate digestives! However delicious as they are, they also figure at around 87 calories each! With my rough workings, you can swap:

One of these:

For two plain rice cakes (I have fallen in love with Tesco's organic brown ones!), topped with ' choccyphilly ' and topped with a sliced up strawberry for barely a few more calories! Win win I say! A perfect snack for that long time between lunch and dinnertime!  

For two of these!

Its available now to buy nationwide.

Many thanks To Karen at Golin Harris and Philadelphia

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Food to cook when the cupboards are bare

I feel like my life consists of apologies at times but I wanted to let you know I have not vanished off the face of the earth! I am currently studying very hard, cooking not very much and as a result have run out of things interesting enough to write about! Roll on this time next week when the first lot are out of the way!

Following my recent move, the second in the last six months I have been rapidly downsizing my store cupboards, and have been very creative with using up odds and ends! How I ended up with around fifteen varieties of pasta I will never know! Fortunately most of the dishes I've made have been pretty successful, and I have a few quick meal ideas to share with you:

One of them was a surprisingly delicious pilaf kind of affair, started off with frying a little onion and mustard seeds, then adding very weeny bits of cauliflower that needed eating, some leftover cooked chicken, sultanas and rice, covered with stock and gently cooked until all absorbed, then went in the last of a bag of frozen peas and warmed through with a generous amount of fresh coriander. 

It is no doubt to go down in my history as one of those dishes that came out spectacularly well but I probably will never be able to recreate due to the fact things were thrown together with a silent prayer it would come out edible!

Next up was a really satisfying lunch consisting of cream cheese and olive stuffed mushrooms. At the time I had two gorgeously large field mushrooms leftover from another recipe, and not much else!

The filling was made from sliced green olives, aka the last 4 in the jar, mixed with the last tablespoon’s worth of soft cheese (I never waste anything!), stuffed into the mushrooms, topped with breadcrumbs (woohoo another tub dealt with it!) and then baked until all bubbly and golden.

They made for a great little lunch with salad and also gave a good send off to the last of the fridge contents!

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