Friday, 30 January 2015

Tarragon, Turkey and Bean Salad

I borrowed the Salad Days cook book from the library and I've made quite a few salads out of it, all have been delicious. This was lovely and it is worth making the dressing for the beans too for the added flavour.

Tarragon, Turkey and Bean Salad (from Salad Days - Good Housekeeping)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp tarragon, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
2 tbsp creme fraiche
200ml mayonnaise
juice 1/2 lemon
450g cooked turkey, cut into bite sized pieces
400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
50g sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper
spring onion, sliced

For the dressing
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp walnut oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
pinch caster sugar

Mix the herbs with the creme fraiche, mayonnaise, lemon juice and seasoning. Toss the turkey with the herb dressing in a large bowl and set aside.

Mix together the dressing ingredients and season. Toss the cannellini beans with the dressing. Then mix the beans and sun-dried tomatoes into the turkey mixture and serve sprinkled with the spring onions.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Raclette

I had some chestnuts leftover from the some soup I made a couple of weeks ago and thought that this brussels recipe was a perfect side dish. I ate it with some merguez sausages I bought in France, which were disappointingly not very spicy. Either I was a wuss as a kid, I always thought merguez were the spiciest things ever, or these were really unspicy for merguez, they were lovely and full of paprika but not spicy at all, very disappointing. They did go really well with this side dish though adding another layer of flavour.

Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Raclette (adapted from Bon Appetit)
(Serves 4)

200g box vacuum packed roast chestnuts, halved
5 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
3 garlic cloves
pinch of crushed chilli flakes
450g brussels sprouts, stemmed, quartered
100g raclette cheese, grated or sliced
Pre-heat the grill. Cook the brussels sprouts in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until tender on the outside but still crunchy on the inside, about 2 mins; drain.

Heat remaining 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat; add the brussels sprouts, thyme, rosemary, garlic and chilli flakes and cook until tender and browned, 6–8 mins.

Add the chestnuts to brussels sprouts; season to taste with salt and remove the parsley and thyme and transfer to a shallow baking dish. Lay the raclette over the Brussels and chestnuts. Grill until the cheese is melted and bubbly, 4–5 mins.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Meal Planning Monday

Wow, ok so last week was a bit chaotic. I fainted in the shower on Monday morning and then developed some kind of tummy bug. So I ate almost nothing apart from toast and honey for the beginning half of last week, that poached egg on Wednesday evening was the best thing I have ever eaten and then the second half I just let my body have what it wanted and by Saturday I was ravenously hungry!

This week things are already going better, I managed to shower without falling over! I am still desperately tired and forgetful but I have finally made a decision to come off this medication. I was offered anti-depressants to mask the side effect of how I've been feeling but for me that's not the right way to go and I can't go on not feeling, well, like me. So although it'll take 8 weeks for the effects of the medication to go I know there is light at the end of tunnel. So please bear with me until then as blog updating may be a little erratic. I also don't seem to be able to remember to take photographs so although I have been doing a little bit of cooking I think I've remembered to photograph one dish!

I spent a bit of time in the garden on Saturday and pruned back my roses and just did some general tidying up. The week before last I also got an apple tree in the post! Very exciting! I did repot it last weekend into a bigger pot but it'll need a bigger pot yet. It's an Ashmead's Kernel and the only variety of apple I'll actually eat, my Mum has a mature one in her orchard and I can't get enough of the apples. I was so excited when I found one on a dwarf rootstock that I can grow in a pot. This is my new tree:

So onto this week. I have a busy week ahead. I'm going to three theatre performances; Miss Saigon, Di and Viv and Rose and Islands and also going to pilates tonight, so that's four late nights so either I'm eating out or I'm eating things from the freezer that will cook without much effort. I am also meeting some friends for lunch on Saturday and we are going to have pizza at Arancina in Notting Hill close to where I work and then going for a wander around Portobello Road Market. I haven't got as far as Sunday yet!

Lamb with Crunchy Veg in a Pitta Bread
Hot Dog and Greens Macaroni Cheese

Curried Lentil and Chard Soup with Homemade Bread
Out before the theatre

Celeriac, Apple and Chestnut Soup with Homemade Bread (River Cottage)
Out at Leon

Tomato and Raclette Quiche with Salad
Pumpkin Prawn Curry and Rice

Spelt and Smoked Salmon Kedgeree (Waitrose Magazine)
Out before the theatre

Out with friends for Pizza
Bread, Poached Egg and White Pudding


Monday, 19 January 2015

Squash Stuffed with Tex Mex Rice and Beans

This was really yummy again. The sweetness of the squash mixed with the spiciness of the chipotle paste worked really well together. This was kind of a southwestern style dish really yummy and filling.

Squash Stuffed with Tex Mex Rice and Beans (from Green Gourmet Giraffe)
(Serves 4-6)

2-3 small squash
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large leek, washed and chopped
250g brown basmati rice, cooked
2 tbsp chipotle sauce
100g cheese, grated
400g tin corn, drained and rinsed
400g tin black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp lemon juice

Bake the squash for about 1-2 hours at 180C until they feel soft, check after 1 hour. Chop off the top and scrape out seeds.

Fry the leek for about 10-15 mins until soft. Mix with the remaining ingredients and taste to check the seasoning.

Stuff as much stuffing as possible into the squash and put back into the oven and bake for about 30 mins. If you have remaining filling, bake in a greased oven dish until top is crispy..

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Pork Belly, Beans and Greens

This was delicious, the pork was meltingly tender and the beans were soft and yummy and I love cavolo nero. The whole thing worked perfectly.

Pork Belly, Beans and Greens
(Serves 4)

500g dried cannellini beans
3 bay leaves
1.2kg belly pork, bones out
2 onions

olive oil
6 little sprigs thyme
1l vegetable stock
200g cavolo nero or other dark cabbage

Soak the beans in deep, cold water overnight. In the morning, drain them, tip into a very large saucepan, add three bay leaves, cover with water and bring to the boil. Remove and discard any froth that floats to the surface with a draining spoon, then partially cover with a lid and turn down to a lively simmer. Leave the beans to cook for a good 45-60 mins until almost tender.

Peel and chop the onions, then soften them in a little oil in a large, solid roasting tin over a low to moderate heat, adding the whole thyme sprigs and a grinding of black pepper. Let them take their time, so the onions are truly soft.

Preheat the oven to 220C. Drain the cooked beans as soon as they are almost tender, and tip them into the onions and thyme. You should include the bay leaves or, if they look tired, add a couple of new ones. Pour in the stock.

Using a heavy kitchen knife, slice the piece of pork belly into eight squares. Salt the skin generously, pushing the grains down into the slashes on the surface. Place the pieces snugly, but not quite touching each other, into the beans, making certain that the pork stands proud of the beans. Bake for 20 mins until the crackling is looking pale gold and lightly crisp.

Lower the heat to 160C and continue cooking for an hour and 15 mins. The pork should be crisp on top, soft but not meltingly so. Remove the pork to warm plates.

Place the roasting tin over a moderate heat, shred the cabbage and stir into the beans and cook for a couple of minutes. Finish with salt, stirring it into the beans. Serve with the pork.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Smoked Haddock and Couscous Salad

This is a bit like a kedgeree but using couscous instead of rice. It can be eaten hot rather than cold but it shapes up really well in a lunch box. I used smoked cod rather than smoked haddock, which is not quite as powerful but still pretty good.

Couscous and Smoked Haddock Salad (from Salad Days - Good Housekeeping)
(Serves 4)

175g couscous
125g smoked haddock, flaked
50g cooked peas
1 tsp curry powder
2 spring onions, sliced
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1 hard boiled egg, chopped
2 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper

Cook the couscous according to the packet instructions.

Mix the couscous with the smoked haddock, peas, curry powder, spring onions, parsley and egg. Toss with the lemon juice and salt and pepper, then serve.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Red Lentil and Spinach Soup

I have a large packet of red lentils just sat in my cupboard so I'm trying to find things to do with them. The first of these recipes is a lentil and spinach soup with a lovely fresh hit of lemon.

Lentil and Spinach Soup (from Kahakai Kitchen)
(Serves 4)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 brown onions, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin1 tsp ground coriander200g red lentils
750g vegetable stock
1l water
juice and zest 1/2 lemon
300g baby spinach, roughly chopped
sea salt and black pepper
Heat a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the oil, onion, cumin and ground coriander and cook for 6 mins or until the onion is well browned. Add the lentils, stock, water and lemon zest and bring to the boil.
Cover and allow to simmer for 15 mins or until the lentils are soft. Squeeze in the lemon juice and stir through the spinach..
To serve, stir through the salt and pepper , then ladle the soup into mugs or bowls. Serve.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Meal Planning Monday

I'm having a few problems with some side effects from medication that I'm taking which is sapping my energy and my enthusiasm, so please forgive me if the blog is not updated as often as it used to be. I have an interesting week next week. Two trips to the theatre and then I'm going to France for the day on a cheese cruise. I also got a new cook book for Christmas; River Cottage Light and Easy by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, so I'm trying out a few new recipes from that book this week.

Celeriac, Apple and Chestnut Soup with Bread (Light and Easy)
Out before the theatre

Smoked Salmon and Pea Pasta Salad

Turkey, Tarragon and Bean Salad (Salad Days)
Out before the theatre

Cheese and Tomato Quiche with Salad
Ratatouille with Saffron Rice (Jamie's 15 Minute Meals)

Lamb and pitta with Crunchy Veg
Home at my parents

Out for lunch in France
Something from France

Veggie Burger
Kipper Chowder (Light and Easy)

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Mushroom and Brussels Sprouts Hash

We had some extra brussels sprouts leftover from Christmas plus I bought a packet from Tesco for 10p! This was something a little different to do with brussels sprouts besides Christmas dinner and it was very tasty and a lovely carb free brunch of lunch.

Mushroom and Brussels Sprouts Hash (from Closet Cooking)
(Serves 2)

1 tbsp oil
1 small onion, finely diced
225g mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp thyme, chopped
450g brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced
salt and pepper
2 eggs
Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat, add the onions and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms release their moisture, it evaporates and the mushrooms start to caramelize, about 15 mins.
Add the garlic, thyme and brussels sprouts, saute until tender, about 5 mins, let sit until the bottoms start to caramelize, about 5 mins, mix everything up, let sit for 5 mins and mix it all up. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Create small wells in the hash, add the eggs and cook until the desired level of doneness. Put under a hot grill to cook the tops if desired.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Chicken and Ham Sandwich Pies

These are the coolest things ever and also the yummiest. These are just absolutely brilliant if you want a sandwich but don't have time to make one, make a whole batch in advance then freeze them and then you can just pull one out when you need it. They are seriously good and such a brilliant way to make a sandwich!

Chicken and Ham Sandwich Pies (from Good Food Magazine July 2011)
(Makes 10)

2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped
100g thick sliced ham, chopped
6 spring onions, finely chopped
100g strong cheddar, grated
3 tbsp full fat soft cheese
2 tsp English mustard
500g pack bread mix
plain flour for dusting
1 egg, beaten

Make the filling by mixing the chicken, ham, spring onion, cheeses and mustard with some seasoning, stir well to combine, then pop in the fridge until later. You can do this up to a day ahead.

Make the bread mix following pack instructions. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces, shape into balls then roll out on a floured surface into circles 12cm in diameter.

Heat the oven to 200C. Grease 10 holes of a muffin tin. Put a dough circle into one of the holes, push in lightly, then fill with 2 tbsp of the filling mix. Gather the dough together with your fingers and pinch to create a little parcel that looks a bit like a big flower – don’t worry about totally sealing the dough as the filling will bubble through anyway, which makes the parcels look even better. Keep doing this until you have used all the dough and filling mix.

Brush the parcels with beaten egg and cook for 25-30 mins until golden and risen.Serve with a spoonful of your favourite chutney, if you like.