Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Buckwheat Noodles with Wakame and Ginger

This was a really tasty and flavourful salad. I used up the last of the seaweed my mum brought me back from Japan last year and I also added in some dried radish. 

Buckwheat Noodles with Wakame and Ginger
(from River Cottage Light and Easy by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)
(Serves 2-4)

15g dried wakame seaweed
150g soba/buckwheat noodles
1 large carrot
1 large courgette
10g toasted sesame seeds

For the dressing
2cm nob ginger, peeled and grated
2 tbsp mirin
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Put the wake into a bowl of cold water to rehydrate. Follow the packet instructions for how long to soak.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to packet instructions, usually 5 mins.  Drain and run under the cold tap to cool down. Drain thoroughly and then tip the noodles into a large bowl.

Peel the carrots and slice into spaghetti or thin matchsticks. I used a julienne peeler but you could use one of these new fangled spiralizers. Do the same with the courgette but don't peel. Add to the noodles.

When the seaweed has plumped up drain it well and squeeze out the excess water with your hands. Chop the seaweed roughly and add to the noodles and veg.

To make the dressing, mix together the ginger, miring, soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil. Pour this over the noodles and toss so that everything is coated and the ingredients are evenly distributed. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and serve.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Meal Planning Monday

So it's been another busy week. On Monday I went on a tour of the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace, which was fab, they have some absolutely amazing pieces of embroidery. On Tuesday we went to Painting Paradise at The Queen's Gallery, which was a stunning and really interesting exhibition about gardens. They had some beautiful faberge flowers on display that were just gorgeous.

In the afternoon we went to Ladybird by Design at the House of Illustration, this was an exhibition all about Ladybird books which both my Mum and I remeber from growing up. The illustrations were fantastic and it was a wonderful nostalgia trip.

On Wednesday we went to Yauatcha for lunch. I love coming to Yauatcha, there dim sum is so good. We had a variety of dishes and I had a Tokyo Cooler to drink which was a non-alcoholic cocktail featuring peach and guava juice. I meant to do a whole write up - I took enough photos but this week seems to have disappeared.

Friday I went to the Coral Reefs and Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at The Natural History Museum and stopped off in Soho on the way back to try Pilau. Pilau is a pop up serving Indian Wraps. You can choose from Butter Chicken, Lamb and Marrow or Spicy Paneer. I went with the paneer, which was an excellent choice. It's a bit like an Indian burrito in that it includes rice. The other additions I chose were shoestring bhaji, Indian slaw, red onions and lettuce. There was also the choice of three sauces, chilli, mango and apricot chutney and coriander yoghurt. I can't recommend this place highly enough, the paneer was lovely and soft and as a whole it just worked perfectly together. I apologise for the picture I'm not sure how else I could have shown you the inside!

I made one of my favourite sandwiches yesterday; Bun from the farmer's market, a ripe tomato with salt and pepper, buffalo mozzarella and home grown basil. Best Thing Ever!

Yesterday evening I did a Mexican Street Food Course at Recipease in Notting Hill with my sister. We made small corn tortillas and topped them with a sweetcorn salsa, chipotle chicken and tomato, spinach and feta. We also made guacamole and fresh tomato salsa. The meal was incredibly tasty and I loved the chicken, but it was nothing that I couldn't have got a recipe off the internet and done myself. Still it was good fun and I love picking up new recipes.

This week I'm back working for three days. All of the books are being moved out of the library so I have to go in and oversee. I'm also going to play at The Bush Theatre and to see Book of Mormon. Then on Thursday I go on my annual trip to Northumberland for a week and a bit. I'm really looking forward to leaving the big city for a while and chilling out. We have a trip to Edinburgh planned and various other things we might get up to, so no meal plan next week.

Crab and Asparagus Quiche with Salad
Out before the theatre

Salmon Sandwich Pie with Crisps
Courgette and Gnocchi Casserole (WW Cooking for Two)

Out possibly
Chilli Con Carne Meatballs with Bulgar Wheat

Mango Pork Burger
At my parents house

Chipotle Loganberry Chicken Thighs

This was a really lovely recipe that I stumbled across when looking for things to do with the huge amount of loganberries I have collected this year. I made jam a few days before and this was a handy way to use up a little. You could of course use raspberries as with the original recipe or you could use smushed up loganberries or raspberries if you don't have any jam.

Chipotle Loganberry Chicken Thighs (from Handle the Heat)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp loganberry jam
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 tbsp chipotle paste
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp oil
8 boneless chicken thighs (skin on or removed)
salt and pepper

In a small saucepan, combine the jam, lime zest, lime juice, chipotle, and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 4 minutes, or until slightly syrupy.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken thighs evenly with salt and pepper. Saute chicken for about 6 mins per side, or until golden brown. Spoon the raspberry mixture over the chicken before serving.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Roast Duck Breast with Herbed Freekeh and Preserved Lemon

This was an incredibly tasty dish and I was so excited that I managed to cook the duck perfectly! This looks like a complicated recipe but actually it's deceptively simple.

Roast Duck Breast with Herbed Freekeh and Preserved Lemon
(Serves 4)

200g freekeh
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
4 duck breasts, skin scored
1 tbsp oil
2 small preserved lemons, cut into tiny dice
50g dried figs, chopped
handful chopped mint
handful chopped parsley
juice 1 1/2 lemons
125ml extra virgin olive oil

Cook the freekeh according to packet instructions adding the olive oil and salt to the water.

Preheat the oven to 220C. Season the duck breasts and heat a frying pan until very hot. Fry the duck, skin side down, in the oil until golden. Turn the breasts over and cook until coloured, this should take a couple of mins. Put the duck into a roasting tin and roast for 7-9 mins. When cooked, remove to a plate, cover with foil, insulate with a few tea towels and leave to rest for about 5-10 mins.

Toss the lion rind with the freekeh, along with the figs, herbs, lemon juice and olive oil. Season with pepper.

Slice the duck breast and toss with the fresh. Serve with a green salad.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Roast Courgette Dip

It's the start of the courgette season, so I thought I'd try something a little different. I looked at lots of different courgette dip recipes and took inspiration form them all. This dip is a little sweet, which was unexpected but yummy. I think I'll try one with tahini next.

Roast Courgette Dip

2 large courgettes, thickly sliced
2 tbsp natural yoghurt
handful mint
1/2 tsp dukkah

Preheat the oven to 200C. Put the courgettes onto a baking tray, spray with cooking spray and bake in the oven for 30 mins. Leave to cool slightly.

Once cool, Transfer to a food processor and add the yoghurt, mint and dukkah and blitz until dip like.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Loganberry Jam

I have had bowl upon bowl of loganberries from my the bush in my garden this year. I have frozen them mostly, or eaten them with a sprinkling of sugar for pudding, and I'm also going to make compote. I also decided after picking over a kilo to make jam! My first attempt at jam a couple of years ago was not a success, I used too much sugar and it was so hard you couldn't actually get it out the pot!

My first try at this was under set, so I put it back in the pan, added the juice of half a lemon and a bit more sugar and resterilised the jars. I'm not sure how it turned out second time round as no-ones tried any yet, but it was definitely set, hopefully so that it can still be eaten!

Loganberry Jam
Makes 3 450g/1lb pots

900g fresh or frozen loganberries
900g white sugar, warmed

Preheat the oven to 100-130CWash, dry and sterilise the jars in the oven for 15 mins. Put the sugar onto a baking tray and put in the same low oven as the jars to warm.

Put the berries into a wide, stainless-steel saucepan. Mash them a little and cook for 3–4 mins over a medium heat until the juice begins to run, then add the warmed sugar and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is fully dissolved.

Increase the heat, bring to the boil and cook steadily for about 5 mins, stirring frequently (frozen berries will take 6 mins).

Test for a set by putting about a tsp of jam on a cold plate and leaving it for a few minutes in a cool place. Press the jam with your finger. If it wrinkles even slightly, it is set. Remove from the heat immediately. Skim and pour into sterilised jam jars. Cover immediately.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Fried Bream Fillets with Pea Puree

This is a really simple dish in terms of ingredients although it takes a little effort to prepare, especially is someone rings you in the middle of pureeing the peas! I served it with a courgette, tomato and balsamic salad and crushed new potatoes.

The peas came from my garden! I have a very small amount of peas with a life of their own and I ended up with about 70g peas so I had to add another 30g of frozen peas. The peas out the pod were delicious though, a reminder than summer is here!

Fried Bream Fillets with Pea Puree (from River Cottage Fish)
(Serves 4)

1 large bunch mint, leaves chopped (keep the stalks)
400g peas
cooking spray
1 1/2 garlic cloves, 1/2 finely chopped, the other skin left on, bruised with a knife
75g unsalted butter
2 bay leaves
4 bream fillets
salt and pepper

Bring a pan of water to the boil and throw in the mint stalks. Add a pinch of salt and the peass and boil for 4-5 mins until the peas are tender. Drain and reserve the cooking water. discard the mint stalks. Put the peas in a blender and set aside.

Put a small pan over a medium-high heat, spray with cooking spray and add the chopped garlic. Sizzle gently until the garlic just begins to colour, then quickly pour into the blender with the peas. Add 50g butter, salt and pepper and the chopped mint leaves. Add 2 tbsp of the pea cooking water and blend to a puree, adding a little more liquid if needed, it should be like coarse hummus.

Put a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, spray with cooking spray. Throw in the bay leaves and the bruised garlic to flavour the fat. Season the fish fillets all over and lay them skin side down in the pan. Cook for about 3 mins until the flesh has turned opaque, then flip them over and cook for 30 secs. Serve.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Crab Salad

This is such a simple salad and yet really refreshing and flavourful.

Crab Salad (from Nom Nom Paleo)
(Serves 3-4)

2 cans crab meat
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice
1-2 tbsp mayonnaise
salt and pepper

Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well to combine. Serve over salad leaves or in a pitta.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Meal Planning Monday

So it's been a fab and busy week this week. On Monday night I went to see Heston Blumenthal talk at the V&A and although he was a bit rambley it was a very interesting talk.

Tuesday was really busy, I met a friend for lunch at Kingly Court just off Regent's Street and we went to Pizza Pilgrims. Both of us had the Calzone and I found it a tasty pizza but a bit salty.

In the afternoon I went to see Minions, which I loved and then we went to Le Delice in Walthamstow for tea and cake. I had the pear flan which was delicious.

On Thursday I went to the Sky Garden on the 35th floor of the Walkie Talkie building in the City. There were stunning views and you could walk the whole way round and see all over London.

On Saturday I went to my parents house and in the morning we went to Oundle Food Festival, which was fab with lots of different local stalls and I came home with lots of goodies. There did seem to be rather a lot of pickle/mustard/chutney/jam stalls though, so I'm not sure who they all got on.

There was also lots of knitted things scattered around. This is what the front of the bookshop looked like!

On Sunday we visited met some friends and visited The Fan Museum in Greenwich and went to their Orangery for tea which was super. We had scones with clotted cream and jam followed by a piece of lemon drizzle cake and a piece of brownie all for £7.

When we got home I gave my next door neighbour some loganberry brownies and she gave me some treats leftover from Eid.

This week is still busy but hopefully slightly less so. Monday I am going on a tour of the Royal School of Needlework, which was my Mum's birthday present. Tuesday we are going to Planting Paradise at the Queen's Gallery and to a friends for lunch. Wednesday we are going to Yauatcha for lunch and I might actually find some time to grocery shop! Thursday and Friday are free days. Saturday is As Is at Trafalgar Studios and then on Sunday I am doing a Mexican Street Food Class at Recipease with my sister. Meals until Wednesday are as hoc and then from then on it's a bit more structured.

Out for lunch
Jerusalem Artichoke and Spinach Pasty

Burger with Courgette Chips
Courgette Gnocchi Casserole (WW Meals for Two)


Bengali Spiced Trout Parcels (Skinny Meals in Heels)
Lamb Shank with Parpadelle (Donna Hay)


Mexican Street Food

Friday, 17 July 2015

Chicken and Bacon Ranch Gnocchi Casserole

This was a lovely and very cheesy dish. I definitely need to experiment more with making my own gnocchi, which I'm sure are much better than the packet stuff. I added a handful of spinach in to the dish as it needed using, and this was a lovely addition.

Chicken and Bacon Ranch Gnocchi Casserole (from What's Cooking Love?)
(Serves 6-8)

450g gnocchi
3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
6 rashers bacon, cooked and sliced
120ml ranch dressing
370ml milk
200g grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp chives, chopped

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Meanwhile cook the gnocchi according to the packet instructions.

Heat up the ranch dressing, milk, and 100g of the cheese in a saucepan over medium heat until the cheese melts and the mixture becomes creamy.

In a large bowl combine the cooked gnocchi, cheese sauce, chicken, bacon, garlic powder, and chives. Then spoon the mixture into a greased baking dish. Top with the remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake for 20 mins or until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.