Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Smoked Trout Macaroni Bake

It seems that winter is starting to claim autumn from us, littering the ground with autumn leaves and whispering a chill to the morning air, thoughts of gloves on some days when I walk to work seems a given, and all I really want to do lately is eat. In my head its salad but when it comes to cooking comfort food is calling me! 

As you may have guessed by now Pasta bake in one of its various and many forms is one of my favourite comfort foods and when naughty pictures appeared on my facebook feed, posted by another blogger called Kavey, of her mums macaroni cheese it had me craving it all week, and after accidentally buying 0% fat crème fraiche rather than the more usual full fat option I decided to give in to my cravings and embark on a slightly healthier version of pasta bake…at least I can kind of pretend its healthier... well I did use high fibre macaroni too! There is a little white wine, mainly as I happened to be partaking in a glass at the time but you could use vermouth, or a little extra stock if you don't drink/ have any in.

Overall it was a good success, though I might sneak in a little more cheese next time! The macaroni wasn't swimming in sauce but not dry either, a good balance really! The smoked trout was delicious – I am not a huge fan of Trout 'au naturel' but thanks to a kind forum friend a few months back I quite enjoy smoked trout now, its nutritious, high in vitamin D, protein and Omega 3. See didn't I say pasta bake could be healthy?

Having had a good success with a smoked mackerel version previously, I decided to test the smoked Trout in a pasta bake form (I did make a few other things to but this was the best of them!). The fish has a good meaty-ish texture and light smoke flavour running through it. There were a few small bones but were quickly removed with tweezers. As its already cooked, its also so easy to use by simply shredding the fillet by hand and combining into the cooked macaroni.

Serves Two


100g macaroni
1 large egg
4 heaped tbsp 0% fat crème fraiche
15g extra mature cheddar, grated
4 large basil leaves, shredded
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
60g smoked trout fillet, flaked
1 tsp cornflour, mixed with 1 tbsp milk
Splash of white wine, dry

*You will need two individual pie/ baking dishes*

Beat the egg with the cheese, basil and 1 tbsp of the crème fraiche and season with salt and pepper

Meanwhile boil the macaroni as per packet instructions, when cooked drain well and reserve 125ml of the cooking liquor. Pre-heat your oven to about 190o (mine is completely on the blink and everythings at about 230o currently!)

Using the now empty saucepan, heat the reserved liquor, wine and 3 heaped tbsp of the crème fraiche, when its boiling whisk in the cornflour mixture, until thickened and season. Stir in the cooked macaroni and trout and fill two individual baking dishes.

Spoon over the cheese and egg mixture and dot the tomato halves and bake for 25-30 minutes or until slightly souffled on top and golden. Serve with green vegetables of your choice.


Many thanks to The British Trout association for my samples. 
Recipe and images remain the property of Anne's Kitchen.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Mezze Made Easy with Olives Et Al

One of my favourite meals to serve is a series of smaller dishes - I so much prefer sharing my foods and really enjoy the whole social side to it as well. Whether you call it Tapas, Mezze or even picky bits I always like to try out new dishes, along with a few favourites too! I always think when sharing food of an old Friends episode, where one of the characters Joey is on a date and the guest steals a chip and Joey is bereft and mutters the immortal line 'Joey doesn't share!' Fortunately none of us are of that thinking and the more sharing the better! Its also a great way of trying out new dishes on a small scale, that way if something doesn't work at least its only a small portion!

The following dishes all got made, using a mixture of what we had in the cupboards and using a few key items the nice people at Olives Et Al gave to me. I've always enjoyed their products - that was until the local farm shop changed management and I couldn't get their olives anymore, however it was very handy to be also given a jar of their Smoky Chipotle Chilli olives - I really do prefer getting olives marinaded in lovely oils – not only you get delicious flavoursome olives but then you have a double bonus in the form of also lovely oil leftover to be used in other treats! One of my most simplest forms is to make flavoured toasted breads. English muffins work well, baguette or ciabatta slices also are great too! To be honest if its made of flour and isn’t cake its worth a shot! Simply brush with the oil and grill!

First up is a really nice, light dish that can be made inexpensively - I used Smoked Salmon trimmings which worked out at about 70p, a small avocado and the lovely Mojo dressing to bring it all together. As Avocado's discololour fairly fast, make sure you mix this dish quickly - it will keep for about an hour without browning. I love this Mojo dressing so much - despite it saying Pink Grapefuit, which really does not appeal this was surprisingly tasty, sligtly smokey and zingy - one of my favourite ones I have tried to date I think!

Mojo Avocado and Smoked Salmon Salad

70g smoked salmon trimmings
1 small ripe avocado, cut into ½ cm pieces
8 tsp Mojo dressing

Combine all the ingredients together lightly and allow to chill for 30 minutes before serving

Harissa Lamb kofte

250g lean lamb mince
½ tbsp Olives Et Al Harissa paste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp milk

Mix by hand everything together, then roll into small meatballs, about the size of a walnut and place in a shallow, greased baking dish and bake in a hot oven for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through. Dot with a little dab of harissa to garnish on serving

I have tried a few different Harissa's but liked the Olives et Al one as it was in liquid form and easy to combine with the lamb! Its very tasty but has a kick so do be warned! Beef or turkey mince would work well too here in lieu of lamb.

Chorizo Tomato Stew

This last dish was my own invention, and doesn't involve Olives Et Al in any form but it was so tasty I have to sneak it in! I love using chorizo when cooking as its so versatile, keeps well in the fridge and a little goes a long way and imparts so much delicious and spicy flavour! B is a huge fan of chorizo too so I know dinner will be a hit pretty much everytime I use it!

100g spicy chorizo, cut unto ¼ cm slices
½ red onion finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1x 400g tin plum tomatoes, good quality

In a dry frying pan cook the chorizo until its starting to colour and release its lovely amber oil, add the garlic for 30 seconds, then push to the outsides and add the vinegar, allow  it to burn off the alcohol then stir in the tomatoes. Use a wooden spatula to lightly break them up, season with s&p, turn down the heat and cover, cook for about 40 minutes until the sauce has reduced, stirring occasionally. Season to taste if needed.

Its a lovely dish, rich tomatoey and full of flavour, it also is very good if you stir through some sliced cooked new potatoes for an alternative dinner!

Here is a round-up photo - there is also a very nice roasted vegetable bulgar salad I will post later!

I hope my dishes give you a little inspiration for your next dinner! Do let me know if you try them!

Many thanks to Tedi and Olives Et Al for my samples.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Raspberry and Rose Swedish Princess Tortlettes for #GBBO

Firstly - apologies for my complete internet silence - as posted last week we have no working internet at home, thanks to a naughty fallen tree and CableCom seem in no hurry to re-connect us! However a friend has saved the day and I am stealing borrowing her data to post this in the meantime! Oh how I missed you Twitter! And Facebook! Oh and my Instagram! I have so much to post it was hard to decide what would be first and whilst I have not written out the full recipe - I will if there is enough interest and if I can get permission I wanted to share these bakes, which were a definite first for me! Cheeky minded friends have nicknamed these 'booby cakes' but I will leave you to make your own minds up. I kinda thought they looked a bit piglet-y...

Anyway I am a huge Great British Bake Off fan and when the nice people at Stork offered me to bake along with a recent episode, I rather hesitantly agreed... see I am a fairly good baker but certainly no expert, more the muddle through and hope for the best kind of baker, not to mention too our evil non-temperature gaging oven - we are measuring as they did in Victorian times - stick your hand in and see how toasty it feels! Though after realising I didn't have anything better than to watch GBBO that evening and a I am a firm believer of its better to try it than regret it club, I replied with those fateful three letters... YES!

When I eventually sat down to watch that evenings Great British Bake Off, in the opening credits this weeks bake was narrated as one of the 'Most complicated'........ Ah ha this all makes sense now. This is why we didn't fill in that Bake Off entry form......

..Three hours later, back slightly aching and also after my colleagues discovering I was a secret food blogger (including our post room guy who kindly accepted my giant hamper!) my little pink beasts were eventually born!

Now I won't lie, there are several stages to this bake, lots of measuring, rolling teeny amounts of marzipan whilst turning shades of pink and green but we did manage it, even with a wonky oven and tiny kitchen so I a quite proud! Here are a few images for you to give you an idea:

Measuring the Genoise sponge..
Assembling my Tortlettes...

So these are my very first ever Swedish Princess Tortlettes, that I made in conjunction with Stork.
I somehow won their week though so they must look good! What do you reckon of my efforts as a complete novice to Creme Patisserie, Genoise sponge and tiny cakes in general?

Many thanks to the Stork team for my hamper to make these!

Disclaimer: I received no payment to make these. 
All images remain the property of Anne's Kitchen unless authorized in writing.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Trees Are bad

Many apologies for my complete blog absence - a very naughty oak fell last week and took our internet with it! I am hipefly back on line soon but am at the mercy of crap phone signal and my phone until then!  

 There has been lots of food and I will blog when I can get back on the wifi! 

Smoked trout and leek parcels: 

How to recycle stale chappatis: 

And lots more! I shall leave you with my Swedish princess Tortlettes I made to coincide with last weeks great broths bake off: 

Monday, 8 September 2014

Speculaas Glazed Bundt Cake

Its amazing how a bit of random internet browsing, whilst making something else has led to me making repeatedly the Soured Cream Bundt cake that I blogged back in July from BBC Good Food. It really has become one of my favourite bakes, in fact it must be at least the sixth one now, including baking one on holiday at my Auntie's house in her very pretty tin (note to self: smuggle in suitcase next visit!): 

Anyway as much as we all love the original version, I am rather fond of a new spice in my larder in the form of Speculaas as proclaimed back in August and wondered if the two should meet... I am one for indecision at the best of times but it turned out to be a most wonderful meeting and they are now best of friends. Just call me Mrs Matchmaker!

To facilitate their meet, I decided to add a little of the Speculaas mix to both the cake batter and the glaze, which worked a treat. It came out a glorious colour - this is before the glaze has fully set, then it becomes a bit more crystallized and even more delicious! Patience is a virtue!

Also though I do love the original glaze, it makes lots, so with this version I scaled it back slightly and it was just perfect. Sweet, fragrant crackle encasing a heavenly soft, sweet scented sponge. Really it doesn’t get much better than this.


125g softened butter
180g caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
180g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g sour cream
½ tsp Speculaas spice mix
Pinch salt


80g caster sugar
40g butter
3tbsp water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp speculaas spice mix
Optional – sprinkles of choice to decorate


Cream together the butter and sugar, until light and fluffy. Your mixer will do the hard work for you if not its time to flex those biceps!

Add a little of the egg at a time until its all combined along with the vanilla.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, speculaas and mix half of it into the cake batter, along with half the sour cream until combined. Add the remaining flour mix and sour cream and beat well until all nicely combined. 

Spoon into your prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden, risen and a skewer comes away cleanly. Cool for at least 5 minutes before carefully upturning onto a cooling rack and allowing to cool fully before glazing.

Place the glaze ingredients into a small saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for about 3-4 minutes until it is starting to reduce and thicken. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before painting or spooning over the cake. Allow the first layer to set slightly before repeating with the remaining mixture. I quite enjoy this stage, its a proper test of my patience - be calm, take your time and enjoy the gentleness.

Allow your glazed cake to set for a good few hours - overnight is best if you can resist its lure that long.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Zesty Lime and Coriander Spatchcock Chicken

This September marks the 20th Anniversary of Freedom Food, the RSPCA’s food accreditation scheme and in conjunction with Sainsbury's, who sell over 60% of the UK's Freedom Food certified products, and I have developed a delicious recipe for you to enjoy, using a Freedom Food certified whole Chicken. 

Freedom Food was developed to promote higher welfare foods but with a more affordable price tag and hopefully my recipe can inspire you to explore the range. I do try to buy free range or at least freedom food products where possible but I admit I am not perfect and by buying the best we can, it affords a little peace of mind that we are doing the right thing. This whole meal including the sides came in well under £10, approximately £7.50 for the four of us.

Now this recipe is possibly not for the faint hearted...It involves a little bit of butchery..but its relatively easy so don't fear! I have via trips en France acquired a few pairs of poultry shears but if you have a sharp heavy knife or decent scissors you can also achieve the results.. by spatchcocking the chicken, it cooks quicker, its easier to carve and also marinade too - a win win situation! I have given instructions but if in doubt simply look for online guides to show you how!

When it comes to marinading things, especially those involving chillies you want to be careful on the whole eye face contact afterwards...for which I can't recommend having been there got the tee shirt but I can recommend using CSI style gloves for this manouvere! You can pick them up pretty cheaply and they save a lot of mess and facial burn risks!

I spent ages trying to decide what to make with the chicken but after much deliberation I decided to go vaguely down the Thai route, using zesty lime juice, fresh fragrant coriander and a little chilli to add a little zing to the party! It worked really well, I just wish my oven understood the crispy setting - I am sure it will go a far more delicious shade of golden n crispy in a regular oven! 

Serves 4


1 x whole Freedom Food Chicken
15g fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp Nam Pla (fish sauce)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

You will need 2 x metal or bamboo skewers to keep the chicken in place but its not essential so don't worry too much if you don't have some!


Start by turning your chicken over and using your shears or equivalent sharp implement remove the backbone, cutting through either side of it. Remove any excess fatty bits or skin.

Turn the chicken back over so its breast side up and use the heel of your hand to press down so that the chicken breast and legs are all one equal layer

In a small bowl combine the coriander, chilli, lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, oil and season with salt and pepper.

Glove up and get massaging your chicken all over. Place on a large, shallow baking tray and using the skewers, thread through to form a kriss kross, to keep the chicken in one layer.

Marinade for a couple of hours, though one hour will be okay..

Pre-heat the oven to 180o, then cook the chicken covered in foil for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, baste with the juices and roast for a further 15-20 minutes, or until juices run clean and its cooked through. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before carving.

The easiest way is to use a sharp knife to remove the legs, then remove the breast meat. This way you can also please your squeamish guest who dislikes meat on the bone! 

Personally for me the legs are the best bit - juicy and flavoursome! What is your favourite part?

To go with my chicken I tested out my Steama cooking basmati rice for the first time - I flavoured it with a little coconut and seasoned on serving with soy sauce, nice and simple! I also added steamed broccoli dressed with sesame seeds and a drizzle of sesame oil:

Many thanks to Sainsbury's who provided vouchers to cover the cost of the meal and my time developing the recipe. 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Roasted Chilli and Tomato Fusilli

Whilst I do at heart believe a sharp knife is the foundation of a smooth running kitchen, its also quite nice to play with new tools now and again as well! Over the years I have gone through a variety of herb choppers, including an Italian food mill that was mostly a nightmare to clean after use, 2 electric mini choppers that were also both messy to use and clean after, a blender – too big for the job and also a pain to clean, several chopping boards and possibly even more items but on this occasion I got to play with an OXO’s new herb mincer (RRP £12) which I was sent to review.

It was quite fun to play with apart from maybe being a little too flimsy in that twice I dislodged the protective cover whilst chopping, though admittedly I was using it inside a mixing bowl which was on the small side, which probably didn’t help! (On a chopping board this didn't happen) Overall it made light work of chopping the basil leaves and kept the pine nuts in quite nice sized pieces, so it was overall quite a success, when I was a bit more gentle with it! My other comment is that I had to use a knife to safely remove stray herbs that got inside the mincer but it was easy to do. I also decided to test it to chop the chilli – great as it meant no chilli burn fingers and good if you don’t want it too finely minced – my chilli was quite big and it kept it in largish pieces but no so large it would be a mega chilli hit in the mouth!

I also received OXO UK's little salad dressing shaker (RRP £10) which I used to make the marinade up in. The dressing bottle was very busy kitchen friendly, the lid screws off easily so its easy to fill with your ingredients, with convenient measures on the side of the bottle and its stopper is leak proof even with vigorous shaking! I used all my prepared dressing on the tomatoes but it would definitely keep air tight with other home made dressings and it’s far prettier than sticking the more usual ripped label jam jar on the dining table! It was easy to clean afterwards and I really like this item for both practical and aesthetic qualities.

In my kitchen I use a variety of oils and vinegars depending on both mood and cuisine but chose Filippo Berio’s extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to make my pasta dressing , they both work well together and complemented the tomatoes perfectly. Their balsamic is sweet enough to bake without being too acidic and the oil is pleasant on the palate without being too grassy or punchy like some of my other speciality oil’s. Whilst these were both sent for review, I do buy their extra virgin olive oil on a regular basis as it’s a good all rounder type of oil and stores well.

So whilst summer is seemingly vanishing fast, I captured the last of it in my simple pasta dish, containing some beautiful tomatoes I bought in the market, which apparently are salt water grown. Something new to me but they were bursting with juicyness and tasted so good! They were a glorious hue of scarlet and their scent was heavenly! I used to grow tomatoes a few years back on my old balcony and really miss their evening scent, happy memories!

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