Tuesday 13 December 2011

Bun Thit Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork with Vermicelli)

This is my all-time favorite Vietnamese dish. I scour every city I am in to find an equivalent that matches the dish I love. I decided I was going to give it a go and try it myself. I took a recipe I read an adapted it to what I wanted in my dish. It’s a pretty time consuming dish so make sure you have some time to devote to it. The results are well worth it. This serves 2.

Ingredients:
250-300g (½ lb.) pork shoulder or rump. (The cheap frying steaks)
4 spring onions
2 cloves of garlic
2 chillies
1 lime
3 carrots
1 tbsp. jarred lemon grass
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. fish sauce
Iceberg lettuce finely shredded
1 cucumber
Coriander (handful)
Mint (handful)
Crushed peanuts
Oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste
Fish Sauce for serving (recipe follows)

To start:
Put your pork in the freezer for 30 minutes for easy thin slicing.
Finely slice carrot into strips or grate, shred lettuce, chop up coriander, mint and finely slice cucumber into strips. (Set aside).
Dice spring onions, garlic, chilli peppers.

Next:
When the pork is firm to the touch in the freezer, slice it as thinly as you can and place in a large bowl.
To the bowl add spring onions, garlic, chili peppers, lemon grass, sugar fish sauce lime juice marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge.

To Continue:

While that is marinating, bring a large pot of water to boil.
Blanch the carrots in the water and take out and place in ice water, being careful to save the water (Blanch means to lightly cook for a short period of time). In and out.
Put the vermicelli noodles into a large bowl and pour the boiling liquid over and sit for about 10 minutes until plumped.

To cook:

Heat a pan with the oil until the oil is smoking. (I prefer using a cast iron skillet for this)
Take the marinated meat and flash fry in the pan for about 5-8 minutes until the color is a charred type rustic grilled color. (There might be a lot of water you have to burn off before this)

To Serve:

Place the noodles on a plate or large bowl and layer with the coriander, mint, bean sprouts, blanched carrots, and peanuts.
Dress with the fish sauce (recipe below).

Fish Sauce:
I make this in a plastic seal tight container so that I can keep the extra. I kept this recipe exactly as I read it online as I really love the sauce and wanted it to be authentic.

Ingredients:

¼ c. water
¼ c. fish sauce
3 tbsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp. sugar
1 garlic clove crushed
1 chili pepper sliced in rounds
1 carrot shredded or finely sliced

To Make:
Mix together all of the ingredients and mix until the sugar is dissolved.
You can adjust sugar and lime juice as needed to even out the flavor.
Make before you make your meal so the flavors can melt together.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Salsa Especial de Regina (Regina's Salsa)

I love this salsa. I make a varied edition about twice a month but this is the basic recipe. I use it on everything but mostly we pile it on breakfast tacos, eggs, fajitas, enchiladas, beans etc...

Ingredients:
2 desired chilli peppers ( you can use any kind you want)
½ onion
3 cloves garlic
1 can chopped tomatoes (no Italian or any other flavor)
Handful cilantro/coriander (optional)
½ tsp. Pepper
Salt to taste

To cook:
Boil the chillies, onion and garlic in a shallow pan with water covering them.
Boil on a med-low heat until most of the water is evaporated and the chillies are soft.
You can either use a hand blender or a food processor.
Combine the boiled chillies with the tomatoes and blend lightly or to desired thickness (Add a handful of coriander/cilantro at this point).
Salt and pepper as needed.
I keep mine in old jars and it’s better the next day! Lasts about 2 weeks.

Friday 2 December 2011

Bisquick Banana Bread

This is the simplest and most delicious banana bread I have ever made and have always stuck with this recipe. This recipe makes one loaf but easily doubled for two.

Ingredients:
1 ½ c. mashed banana (2-3 bananas ripe)
2 1/3 c. Bisquick baking mix (If in the UK Betty Crocker bisquick baking mix is the exact same thing)
1 c. sugar
3 eggs
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 c. vegetable oil
½ c. chopped pecans or walnuts

To start:

Mash Bananas in a large bowl.
Mix eggs, sugar, vanilla and oil in next and combine.
Next incorporate the baking mix.
Then the nuts.

To Cook:
Heat an oven to 180C or 350F and bake in a greased loaf tin for 35-1hr depending on oven.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Turkey Bacon

I had never eaten Brussels sprouts before coming to the UK, but I hear they’re a bit part of the holiday season. I imagined that they would taste very bitter if boiled, so I wanted to try them differently for the first time and roast them. I absolutely think they’re the most delicious things I could possibly roast besides roasted beet root. This dish makes a great side to roast dishes along with any meat. My recipe serves 2-4. (I browned mine just a bit too much!)

Ingredients:
250g Brussels sprouts, cleaned and tatty leaves taken off
4 turkey bacon slices (regular bacon is fine)
½ onion
2 cloves garlic
Oil for roasting
Salt and pepper

To Start:
Dice the onion, bacon and garlic.
In a skillet heat some oil and fry the onion, bacon and garlic until caramelized.
Set aside once done.

For the sprouts:
Heat an oven to 200C or 400F.
Place the cleaned sprouts on a foil lined baking tray.
Drizzle with oil, salt and pepper.
Mix with your fingers until all is coated with oil.
Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes until golden.
Remove and combine with the bacon mixture in a bowl and serve hot.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Celeriac Puree with Spinach

Celeriac is such a wonderful veg that often gets overlooked. It’s the root base of celery and is quite starchy and delicious. They’re often forgotten as substitutes for things such as mashed potatoes, chips and many other things. I used it as a side dish to salmon in this recipe and it was simply delicious. With the addition of spinach and a few other ingredients it’s a hearty meal and can even be served alone! Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 large celeriac
2 tbsp. soy cream or regular cream (optional)
250-300g washed baby spinach (use more or less depending on what you like)
1 heaped tbsp. mustard (I used maille Dijon)
Salt + pepper

To Start:

This plant is the knobbliest thing I’ve ever seen so you have to thoroughly wash it, make sure every nook and cranny is washed up.
When you’ve done your best at cleaning out the dirt, slice the brown bits off, almost as if you’re peeling it with a knife.
When you’ve broken down to the base of it, it should look like a smooth large potato.
Chop that up into chunks.

To Cook:
Place in boiling water and boil until soft.
Drain and add the cream and puree with a masher or hand blender.
Add the salt and pepper along with the mustard.
Next add the spinach and toss until the leaves are wilted.

This is an excellent side dish for any meat; you’ll be surprised at how low in calories and carbs it is as well! Enjoy!

Thursday 17 November 2011

Simply Roasted Chicken

What’s the big deal, why aren’t more people roasting whole chickens? It’s simply the most economical way to get value for your money when it comes to the chicken. It is also in my opinion the most delicious way to prepare a chicken. It not only provides a wonderful meal, it can provide delicious leftovers for sandwiches, soups, curries...etc. It’s so simple, you just put it in the oven and forget about it, and clean-up is a breeze. My chicken was a small one about 1kg (2lb) to feed just my husband and I but get one big enough to feed your family. And I’ll explain cooking time later.

Ingredients:
1 chicken (I highly recommend you spend the extra money for free range or organic)
1 whole onion
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt + Pepper
2 tsp. dried rosemary (optional)

To start:

Cut the onion in half and peel it.
First things first, cut off the ankles of the chicken, or the part directly below the drum stick, some chickens might come with it already removed or sometimes you can ask your butcher to remove it.
Next wash him under cold water just to get any bits of feathers off.
Place him in your oven safe dish, (this is where you get dirty) drizzle the oil on his skin, and massage the oil into every nook and cranny , this will ensure a crispy skin crust.
Next put the onion inside the cavity.
Season with salt and pepper and rosemary.

To Cook:

Heat an oven to 220C or about 425F, place him inside for about 20 minutes until you see the skin nicely browned.
Turn the oven down to 180C or 350F, for another 45-1hr. Depending on the size, watch the browning on the chicken, if it gets too brown turn down the temperature and slowly roast it until all the juices run clean.
You’ll want to let this rest for a few minutes before carving. Enjoy!

Monday 14 November 2011

Crabby Crab Cakes

I’ve made a trial and error of this recipe a few times and have finally come to one that I really enjoyed making and eating. These were absolutely delicious and I will definitely be making them again. This recipe serves 2, or can serve 4 as a starter.


Ingredients:

2 cans of crab meat (170-200g each)
7-8 crackers/biscuits (I used saltines)
2 eggs
½ red pepper
½ red onion
2 tbsp. chopped coriander (cilantro)
1 tbsp. light mayonnaise
1 tsp. mustard powder
½ tsp. cayenne powder (adjust to your own taste)
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper
1-2 tbsp. oil for frying

To Start:
Dice red pepper and onion.
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl until well incorporated.

To cook:
Heat the oil in a non-stick pan.
When hot form the patties in your hand, this mixture should make about 4 patties.
Lay down in the hot oil and cook about 5-6 minutes on each side, ensuring a golden brown crust.
Turn gently once while cooking and allow the same amount of cooking on the other side.
When done serve immediately. Enjoy!

My accompaniment sauce is as follows:
1 tbsp. light mayo
2 tbsp. fiery hot ketchup

Mix it up and slather on top. Delicious!

Thursday 10 November 2011

Easy Strawberry Shortcake Shortcut

Easy Strawberry Shortcake Shortcut

This is a simple dessert, I made from a store bought cake shell called a ‘flan’ shell, or you could use any type of sponge as the base. For my American friends, a simple angel food cake would work perfectly or better yet some pre-made biscuits. The important preparation is the strawberries.

Ingredients:
2 large boxes of strawberries
1 flan base, angel food cake, biscuits etc..
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ c granulated sugar
1 can of whipped cream (or whip some yourself!)

To Start:
Wash and discard any moldy or ugly strawberries.
Slice off the tops and slice any way you’d like and put them in a large bowl.
Add the sugar and the balsamic vinegar, and stir until mixed well.
(I let the sugar mixture to set about 1 hour mixing frequently, the idea is to draw out the juice in the strawberries)

To Finish:
On the base that you chose, spoon some of the juices to moisten, next swirl on a layer of whipped cream.
Next add a layer of strawberries and then a layer of whipped cream and continue until ingredients are finished.
Next spoon the juice over the top. And you’re done!
Enjoy!

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Salmon and Spinach Stuffed Filo Parcels

I might have used a bit too much filo pastry to wrap the salmon but definitely gauge how much you think you need. I think 3-5 sheets per fillet of salmon should work perfectly. This dish can be a bit time consuming but if you give it a little patience and love it will be a delicious dish that you can impress your guests with. This recipe is for 2.

Ingredients:

1 Package (270g) Filo Pastry – Follow the directions to thaw
2 Salmon fillets (250g total)
250g washed baby spinach
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp butter melted
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil

To Start:
Heat a pan with the olive oil
Dice the onion and garlic.
When the pan is hot add the onion and garlic and sauté until fragrant.
Add the spinach and wilt down for about 6 minutes then take off heat.

Make the Parcels:

On a clean surface carefully lay down one sheet and with a pastry brush, brush the melted butter all over the sheet.
On top of that add another sheet of filo, butter and repeat again. 3 sheets should be perfect for one salmon fillet.
When the layering of filo is done, add a salmon fillet in the middle, top with wilted spinach mixture.
Fold the ends up on both sides, and then fold it together like a package, so as to seal it.
Brush the remaining butter on top.

To Cook:
Bake at 200C or 400F for about 10-15minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with a salad or potatoes. Enjoy!

Monday 24 October 2011

Simply Roasted Veg

I know I know, I’m sure a lot of you guys know how to roast your own veg, but this is just such a simple beautiful technique to getting rid of some of that veg that you have laying around wondering when it’s going to get cooked. There’s nothing more simple and rustic to add to a meal than a selection of roasted veg with minimal effort. I’ll use my example and give you suggestions on how to make your own roasted platter.

For My Ingredients:
3-4 bulbs of fresh beetroot
6 carrots
4 potatoes

Suggestions for roasting with it:
Onions (cut very thick)
Fennel
Aubergine slices
Courgettes
Squashes
Etc.

To Start:
For the beetroot wash it up trim off the tops and cut into quarters; lay on one side of the roasting try so it doesn’t bleed in to your other lovely colored veg.
Peel and lay the carrots next, if they need to be trimmed to be the same size, this is ideal.
Peel the potatoes cut them into the same size as the beetroot.

To Finish:
Heat an oven to 200C or ~400F.
Drizzle 2-3 table spoons over the entire pan.
Salt and pepper generously.
Toss each section with your fingers.
Place in the hot oven for 40-50 minutes. Check with a fork to see if the potatoes and carrots have softened, and voila! I love doing oven veg or any type of oven entrée because it lessens clean-up and frees me up for anything else I might need to do to get dinner on the table. Enjoy!

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Mini American Apple Pies

Who said making an apple pie was hard? This is the simplest way to make small bite size apple pies for party favours, or even dessert. Just try not to eat them all at once!! Makes about 12.

Ingredients:

1 package of ready roll light short crust pastry (room temp for 30 minutes)
4-6 apples
1-2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ginger
Pinch cloves
½ c sugar substitute (regular sugar is fine too)
Half of a squeezed lemon
Muffin Tin

To Start:
Peel, core and dice all the apples. (Place them into a bowl filled with half water and the lemon juice)
When the apples are peeled, drain them, leaving a little bit of water.
Place on the stove and add all of the spices, including the lemon.
Simmer until soft.

To continue:
On a flat cold surface spread the dough out, and begin to roll with a pastry roller about as thin as you can get it.
Spray your muffin tin and make sure all the nooks are covered.
Take a large glass and cut out the shape of the bottom part of the pie, and continue until that sheet is done. (should be 10-12 tin spots)
As your apples begin to soften and become fragrant, spoon one or two spoonful’s in the pastry.
Repeat until all are full (don’t over fill)
Roll out the second sheet of pastry and cut out the same amount of top pastry for them.
Lay on top and pinch the bottom and top together

To Cook:

Optional: Glaze the tops with a lightly whipped egg.
Place in the oven at 180C or 350F for about 20-30 minutes or golden brown.

Enjoy!

Friday 14 October 2011

Moroccan Lamb Stew with Tabbouleh

This was the main dish that we made together. It’s a delicious blend of herbs, spices and fruit and nuts. The combination with the lamb made for such a succulent meal. I read a few recipes before deciding to make up a mixture of my own ideas to put together and it came out absolutely wonderful. This dish can serve up to 4.

Ingredients:
400-500g of diced lean lamb (~1lb)
1 large onion
3-4 cloves garlic
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 cinnamon stick
100g dried apricots
½ c orange juice (fresh or from Tropicana)
1 c lamb stock (200-250ml)
Big handful cherry tomatoes
Small handful sultanas or raisins
1 tbsp. honey
½ chopped mint
1 can 400g chick peas
50g ground almonds
50g sliced almonds
2 tbsp. oil

To Start:
Peel and dice the onion, and garlic.
Dice the lamb if not diced yet.
Pull out all the seasonings, orange juice and lamb stock.
Open the chick peas.

To Cook:

Heat the oil in a large deep casserole dish.
When hot add the lamb, onions, garlic and fry until lamb begins to brown.
When brown add the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon stick and continue to fry a further 5 minutes.
Next add the lamb stock, orange juice, cherry tomatoes, raisins, honey, and chick peas.
Bring up to a boil and turn down to simmer for 1 hour.

To Finish:
After cooking on low for one hour, add the apricots, half the chopped mint and ground almonds to thicken the sauce (you can add more if you’d like).
For garnish top with sliced almonds and remaining mint.


For the Tabbouleh:

This is a very simple dish that needs barely any ingredients, but can make a delicious side dish for any occasion.

Ingredients:

½ c bulgar wheat or whole wheat couscous
¾ c. boiling water
½ stock cube (I used vegetable)
1 c chopped parsley
1 whole tomato
Juice of one lemon
¼- ½ c good extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

To Start:
Chop the parsley and tomato.
Squeeze lemon.
Place the bulgar wheat/cous cous in a bowl and sprinkle the stock cube on top.

To Assemble:

Heat the boiling water, when boiled pour over bulgar/couscous, next immediately place cling film on it covering securely.
Wait 15 minutes and fluff with a fork.
Add to it the parsley, lemon juice, tomato and olive oil, season as you see fit.
Mix through to incorporate and enjoy!

Thursday 13 October 2011

Honey Roasted Moroccan Style Carrots

This was another one of our side dishes that I mostly worked on while James did the potatoes. It’s just a nice spin on a classic roast carrot, with some extra spices to give it a kick. This serves two people. This would go well with any roast dish, beef, pork or chicken.

Ingredients:
4 large carrots
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. olive oil
Handful raisins
Juice of one lemon
1 tbsp. ras el hanout
If you don’t have ras el hanout you can use:
Cumin
Coriander powder

To Start:
Peel and cut the carrots lengthwise.
Season with honey, oil, raisins, lemon juice and ras el hanout.

To Cook:
Heat an oven to 200C or ~400F.
Roast for about 45 minutes until tender.

Monday 10 October 2011

James's Ras El Hanout Latkes

So as some of you might know, my husband and I embarked on a culinary journey this past weekend. My husband said he wanted to spend time with me over the weekend cooking a meal. I thought it was a great idea and let him pick the cuisine and I organized the activities. We had a full Moroccan meal that started with simple hummus and pita bread. I’m going to post my recipes separately so they’ll be located easier. Starting with the sides this is a classic Moroccan type pancake. This recipe feeds about 4 people and we had the leftovers for breakfast next morning!

Ingredients:
3-4 medium potatoes
1 small onion
¼ - ½ c flour (depending on how watery the potatoes are)
1 egg
1 tbsp. ras el hanout seasoning
Zest of one lemon
Oil for frying

To Start:
Peel and rinse potatoes and leave in a bowl of water until ready to assemble.
Peel the outer layer of skin off the onion and set aside.
In a large bowl full of water, grate the potatoes into the water to remove some starch.
When all the potatoes are peeled and rinsed, drain the water.
Grate the onion on top of the potatoes.
Add the flour, ras el hanout, egg and lemon zest.
Mix until incorporated.

To Cook:
Get a skillet hot with oil, about 2-3 tbsp.
When very hot ladle spoonful’s to make a potato type pancake.
Cook until crispy and golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side.

Stay tuned to the rest of the dishes!

Note: Ras El Hanout is a moroccan spice blend that you can find a recipe and make yourself or find any any ethnic grocery store.

Friday 7 October 2011

Bananas Foster Pancakes

Bananas Foster is definitely an American classic consisting of bananas fried in alcohol and set to fire with some simple seasonings and served with ice cream. I was getting itchy for a bit of a sweet bite late at night and I invented my own! I don’t like ice cream so you can easily substitute it with whipped cream or custard as I did. Oh, and it requires pancakes, I made mine from a British pancake mix. This recipe is for 3-4 people. Enjoy!!

Ingredients:
3-4 bananas (use whatever you have)
2 tbsp. butter
¼ c dark brown sugar
1 oz light or dark rum
1 oz Cointreau or any orange liquor
1 tsp. cinnamon
3-4 pancakes from a mix
Whipped cream/ice cream/custard serving

To Start:
Slice your bananas in circles.
Get your liquor and sugar together

To Cook:
In a pan melt the butter and get hot.
When hot add the sugar and cinnamon.
When the sugar starts to caramelize and bubble hit the pan with the alcohol, stirring to incorporate.
(Be careful as the alcohol could spark a flame)
Cook the alcohol off about 1-2 minutes and then add the bananas!
Serve inside a pancake and top with whipped cream!

Thursday 6 October 2011

Mustard Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Prosciutto

I literally just threw some things together that I had and it came out quite delicious. This is a great inspiration for something anyone can do in a short amount of time with limited ingredients. The only thing I had that isn’t something in everyone’s fridge is prosciutto, but you could substitute with any kind of ham or cooked bacon. I’ve written it for two so adjust as needed, enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts (skinless)
1-2 tbsp. Maille mustard (Maille is a milder Dijon mustard)
3 tbsp. plain yogurt
2 tbsp. cranberry sauce
¼ c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp. dried rosemary
2-4 slices of prosciutto
1-2 tbsp. olive oil

To start:
In a bowl combine mustard, yogurt, cranberry sauce (if you don’t have cranberry sauce you can omit it or replace it with any other type of jam), parmesan cheese, and rosemary.
Prepare the chicken by holding your hand firm on it, and taking a sharp knife and slicing a pocket into the side of it. Repeat for both breasts.
Fill the pockets with half of the mixture or a few spoonful’s.
Carefully wrap each breast with a slice or two of the prosciutto, depending on how big the slices are you might need two per breast.
Make sure the seam of the prosciutto is at the bottom and the pocket is covered.

To Cook:
In an ovenproof pan, heat the oil until hot.
When hot add the breasts prosciutto seam side down in the hot oil.
Fry on both sides for 5 minutes each.
Finish in a 170-180C oven (~350F) 5-10 minutes.
Depending on the size of the chicken breasts additional time might be needed for cooking.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Tomatoes, Basil and Roasted Red Peppers – Two Ways

This was made as an accident and worked two ways. It was originally supposed to be a sauce for my chicken and I added too many tomatoes and it ended up doubling as a soup starter. So, I will give ingredients and preparations for both. It's super easy, and super delicious! Sorry I don't have a photo, will post one next time I make it.

Soup Ingredients:
1 jar of roasted red peppers (drained)
1 can crushed/chopped tomatoes
1-2 cloves garlic
2 basil leaves
2 tbsp. yogurt
Salt/Pepper
Parmesan cheese

To cook:
Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
Blitz with a hand blender until its soup consistency. (Be careful with the splash).
Garnish with a dollop of yogurt and Parmesan cheese

Sauce Ingredients:

1 small jar of roasted red peppers (drained)
¼- ½ can of chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
2 basil leaves

To cook:

Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
Blitz with a hand blender and serve hot over chicken, fish, pork or beef.

Thursday 29 September 2011

Orange Chili Beef

It seems that Asian food has been a theme with my meals lately, but it’s just so convenient to whip up a stir-fry in a hurry. As much as I wanted to use loads of vegetables in this recipe I restrained and just used a few and it came out absolutely delicious. So enjoy!

Ingredients:
350g (~12 oz. or so) beef strips
3 carrots
1 whole bunch of spring onions
200 g button mushrooms
2 tbsp. corn flour (corn starch)
¼ c light soy sauce
¼ c water (possibly more)
½ beef stock cube
½ tsp. dried chili flakes
1 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. honey
Garlic puree
Juice of one orange
Orange part of the rind from one orange
2 tbsp. vegetable oil for frying

To start:

Start by sprinkling the corn starch over the beef and completely covering it with the corn starch, place in the fridge while you gather your other ingredients.
Peel and slice the carrots, spring onions and mushrooms. Set Aside.

Make the sauce:

With a sharp knife, carve around the orange and get all the orange rind off without getting the white part. Slice into tiny strips and add to a bowl
Next add to a bowl the juice of the entire orange.
To that add the honey, fish sauce, soy sauce, water, beef stock cube, and garlic puree and mix well to incorporate.

To cook:
In a large skillet heat oil until hot.
Add the beef and fry till half of the meat is browned, making sure to separate your strips well.
Then add the carrots and spring onions. Saute for a further 5 minutes until the beef is caramelizing and turning golden.
Next add the mushrooms, continue for about 3-5 more minutes.
Add the sauce and stir, to incorporate.
If it begins to thicken up too much add a little extra water to thin it out.
Serve over rice or vermicelli noodles.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Colors of the Rainbow Chicken Stir-Fry

This is the stir fry I accompanied with my light stir fried rice. The ingredients are objective and you can use whatever you have. The sauce as well, it’s just a guide to help creativity. I do use a lot of ingredients but I happen to buy a lot of ingredients that all build up flavour to make things taste delicious. I’ve attached photos of the veg I used as well as for the sauce so that anyone can see what goes in. This is also great vegetarian. So here goes!

Stir-fry Ingredients:
300-400g chicken fillets
200g (~1c) Sliced mushroom, any of your choice
1 rib of celery
½ onion
½ red pepper
½ yellow pepper
2 small carrots
Runner beans/ mange tout/ sugar snap peas – whichever you like
1/8th head of cabbage
1 thumb sized knob of fresh ginger

Asian Sauce: (none of these measurements have to be exact)

¼ c light soy sauce
½ c (~100mls) water
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 tbsp. corn flour (corn starch)
1 ½ siracha hot chili sauce (make it as spicy as you’d like)
½ tbsp. rice wine (mirin)
½ tbsp. garlic puree (if you don’t have it just use regular garlic)
½ tsp. dried chili flakes
½ tsp. ground ginger
2 tbsp. vegetable oil for frying

To Start:
Blend all the seasonings and spices together for the sauce and let sit.
Slice the onion, peppers, celery, ginger, carrot, mushroom, cabbage into whatever sizes you like and set aside.
Slice chicken breasts in small slices for fast cooking, set aside.

To cook:
Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok, when hot add the chicken and fry till almost cooked through.
Next add all of the vegetables and stir fry in the pan till about 50% soft.
Add the sauce over the veg, if it begins to thicken too much add some extra water.
Cook for 5 minutes and serve over egg fried rice!

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Lamb Moussaka with Courgettes

Moussaka is a dish found in many Mediterranean areas including Greece, and I’ve only eaten it at Greek restaurants. I have always wanted to try to make it, and in this case I replaced the traditional aubergine with only courgettes, because it’s what I had at the time, and this came out to be a really lovely meal accompanied by peas, but I do think some roast potatoes would go along nicely. It freezes well. Or serves 4.


Ingredients:
500g lean lamb mince (~1lb)
3 courgettes (zucchini)
1 large onion
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. dried basil
Pinch of cinnamon
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. flour (divided half and half)
1 Packet Coleman’s savory white sauce mix OR white sauce recipe (see below)
1 egg yolk
½ c. grated cheddar cheese
Salt

Simple White Sauce:

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 ½ c milk (~300mls)
Salt and pepper
touch nutmeg if you have it

To Start:
With a sharp knife ), slice the courgette lengthwise as thin as you can get (if you’re not sure do thin round slices).
Place the courgettes in a colander and salt liberally so moisture is released.
Dice onion and garlic, set aside.

To Cook:
In a large pan, sauté the mince lamb with the onion, garlic, basil, cinnamon and oregano.
When completely brown, try to lean the pan out and spoon some of the grease into the bin.
After most of the grease is gone add the canned tomatoes and 1 tbsp. flour.
Stew for 10-15 minutes on medium heat.

To Make the White sauce (with packet):

While the mince is cooking, follow directions on the white sauce packet, see below for cream sauce from scratch.
When the white sauce has come together and thickened, add 1 egg yolk and half of the grated cheese.
Set aside.

To Assemble:
After draining some of the liquid off the zucchini, rinse thoroughly and pat dry to remove salt.
In a shallow casserole dish or baking pan, begin layering the zucchini with the mince lamb mixture until both the courgettes and lamb mixture are used up.
Make sure to layer to leave ½ at the top of the dish.
Carefully pour the white sauce over the top of the casserole.
Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Cook in a 170C (350F) oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown on top.

White Sauce topping: (If no packet)
Melt butter in a pan.
Add the flour and mix thoroughly until a paste.
Move that paste around in the pan for 1-2 minutes on a low-medium heat just to get some of the flour flavor off.
Slowly add 300ml (~1 ½ c milk), and stir with a whisk to ensure no lumps (may need a bit more milk to thin it out).
When thickened add half the cheese and yolk.
Continue with the recipe above.

Addendum: I have since revised this recipe with potatoes on May 7, 2014 Moussaka with Courgettes and Potatoes

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Easy-Peasy (Lightly) Fried Rice

Of course this isn’t the normal heavy heavy fried rice you typically think about when you think "fried rice", but I was making a stir-fry and wanted something a little more exciting to accompany it besides the boring old plain rice. Enjoy this, I will post another delicious stir-fry soon.

Ingredients:
2 c cooked cold white rice
1 large lightly beaten egg
Handful of shredded cabbage (optional)
½ c frozen peas
1 medium onion
2-3 tbsp. light soy sauce
½ tsp. ginger (optional)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil

Note: It’s good to cook the rice the day before, or use leftover white rice. The firmer texture holds up better during the refrying process.

To Start:
Dice onion very fine, along with cabbage if you’re using it. Set aside.
Lightly beat your egg in a separate bowl.

To Cook:
Heat oil in a large pan until hot.
Add the onions, cabbage, peas and dried ginger. Sauté about 3-5 minutes until onions are soft.
Add the rice; flatten out in the pan to get a good sear.
Add the soy sauce and the egg and mix to incorporate thoroughly.

Enjoy this on its own as a main meal adding shrimp or leftover chicken, or as a side to a stir-fry.

Monday 19 September 2011

Baked Meatballs

I just threw together this recipe because I had some pork mince in the freezer as well as some leftover marinara sauce. It’s a very simple meal to cook with very easy clean-up, low in calories when prepared with the right mince. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
500g lean pork mince (1lb – you could use any other type of mince as long as it’s lean)
½ onion
¼ green pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tbsp. ketchup (eye ball it)
1/3 c bread crumbs
1 egg
Salt + Pepper
Garlic Powder (garlic paste works great too)

To start:
Dice green pepper, and onion and put into a medium bowl.
Add the mince, bread crumbs, egg, and seasonings; mix well.

To cook:
Preheat the oven to ~170C (350F).
Spray with oil a muffin tin with at least 12 cups in it.
Roll the meat mixture in to balls and drop one in each cup.
Continue until mixture is finished.
Place in the oven and cook for 30-45minutes.
Serve over pasta with your favourite sauce, or add into a sandwich, the possibilities are endless.

Sunday 18 September 2011

Crispy Corn Flake "Fried" Chicken

Well, I know I love fried chicken. The crispy skin and the juicy flesh melting in your mouth…I have been craving a delicious piece lately and I wanted to tighten up the recipe and thin it down so it’s not pouring with grease. Not much preparation in this, just batter and pop in the oven for one hour. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
500g chicken (1lb) – thighs, and drums
1 egg
1 c flour
½ c milk
2 tbsp. paprika
2 tbsp. garlic powder
2 c corn flakes
1 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste

To Start:
Set out two bowls; in one bowl mix together milk, egg, flour, spices and blend together until smooth.
In the other bowl, crush cornflakes and add salt and pepper.

To cook:
Preheat your oven to about 170F (350C)
Line a cookie sheet with foil.
Dip your chicken in the flour and egg mixture and let drip to take off some of the excess, next roll in the corn flakes and set on the cookie sheet. Repeat this with the remaining chicken.
Bake for about 1 hr. Poke with a fork to make sure the juices are running clear.

If you want to be true to the south, you should serve with smashed potatoes and corn on the cob. Enjoy!

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Easy Stewed Tomatoes and Okra

Easy Stewed Tomatoes and Okra

Back home I used to get cans of stewed tomatoes, and I miss them, there’s only a slight difference between regular canned tomatoes and the stewed. They are stewed with peppers, celery and onions. It makes it convenient to add extra level of flavour without doing anything yourself! I remember I used to always heat up a can and then add a bag of frozen okra. I’ve tried to recreate it and it’s a great side dish or would be a great main dish if you add chicken or prawns, over rice. Enjoy.

Ingredients:
1 400g can chopped tomatoes (Any kind)
400g frozen bag chopped okra
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
½ green pepper
½ tsp. cumin
½ vegetable stock cube
Pinch of sugar
1 tbsp. olive oil

To Start:
Dice onions, pepper, garlic. Set aside.
Heat oil in a pan until hot.
When hot add onions, pepper, and garlic.
Sautee for about 5 minutes, until they soften.

To finish:
Add the tomatoes, okra, stock cube, and seasonings.
Cover and let stew down for about 15-20 minutes.

Serve hot, over rice, or as a side dish to any main.

Friday 26 August 2011

Pan Fried Lemon Fish

I used Plaice fish for this recipe but I think it would be great with any light flavored fish, like white fish, cod, haddock or sea bass, anything with a mild flavor. Really simple meal, throw it together and you’re done with dinner. Serves 2. Sorry I forgot to take a photo!

Ingredients:

2 Plaice Fillets
1 lemon
1 onion
3-4 cloves garlic
3-4 leaves basil (fresh or frozen, not dried)
1 glass white wine
½ chicken stock cube
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp olive oil

To cook:
Dice the onion and garlic, set aside.
Lay the fillets on a plate and salt and pepper them.
Squeeze half the lemon on the fish.
In a large sauté pan, heat oil, when hot add the onions and garlic, and quickly sauté.
When soft, add the flour, and cook into oil for about 5-7 minutes.
Sprinkle on the stock cube.
Add the glass of wine and reduce down to on low.
Add the basil leaves and salt and pepper to taste.
Next add the fish fillets to the sauce, cover and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
To finish squeeze the other half of the lemon on the fish and serve.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Hugo's Pasta Mama

My 51st post is not even my recipe! But it comes from a restaurant in Los Angeles called Hugo’s and I saw it on a special about favorite comfort foods. This looked so delicious I had to track down the recipe and make it, and it was amazing. It’s so simple and I just looked at the ingredients and simplified it for me as I made it for myself as a test. So you can adjust the pasta and eggs according to your size needs. It’s also a really good idea to weigh your pastas and rice, it makes eating the right portion easier. I suggest this because as an American in this country weighing my food was another transition to get it right, and turned out it was the best thing for my eating habits, no longer eating for two!


Ingredients:

1 serving of pasta (I used egg tagliatelle)
1 large egg beaten
1 garlic clove
Handful parsley
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 tbsp olive oil

To start:
Make the pasta according to the directions, set aside.
Mince garlic.

To cook:
Add oil in a skillet until hot, sauté the garlic.
Quickly add the pasta and stir around. 1-2 min. If your pasta has gotten dry add a few tbsp. water.
Add the egg, parsley and mix thoroughly until the egg is cooked.
Add the parmesan and serve warm.

Monday 22 August 2011

Beefy Rice Skillet

This is one of those throw together dinners that turned out delicious. It also fed us for a few days which was a plus. So it will serve a family of 4 easily with a side salad. I served mine with steamed cabbage.

Ingredients:
400-500g ground beef (Or 1lb)
1-2 small courgettes (zucchini)
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
½ red pepper
1 can crushed/chopped tomatoes
1 c white rice
2 cups water
1 tbsp. oil
1 beef bouillon cube
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. chili powder
*TINY* pinch cinnamon (it brings out the flavor, don’t overdo it ;)


To Start:
Dice onion, red pepper, courgettes, garlic; set aside.

To cook:
Heat a large skillet with oil and brown the beef.
Add the veggies and sauté for about 5 minutes.
Next add the rice and the seasonings and cook for 5 minutes being careful not to burn the rice.
Add the can of tomatoes and water; bring to a boil then turn down to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Friday 19 August 2011

Gina's Tuna Pasta Mama

This recipe was requested by a couple people and here it is! There are a few ingredients that can be omitted or changed in quantity if you want more or less of it. I usually only make this for myself and use whole wheat fusilli pasta, and boil it for longer than it says so it turns soft enough to resemble white pasta with all the whole grain nutrition! Also if I keep my portion of pasta down I can compensate with veggies and get a couple portions of pasta salad! Try it!



Ingredients:
75g (per person ~3/4c) whole wheat fusilli pasta
1 can tuna drained
2 hardboiled eggs
1 tomato
Half green pepper
1 ribs celery
1 small can of black olives (~100-150g)
½ red onion
½ c frozen peas
3 tbsp. – ¼ c light mayonnaise
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. of ranch dressing packet
Fresh pepper

To start:
Start the water to boil the eggs and continue until you peel them.
Start the water for the pasta, and continue until done.
Note: place the frozen peas in the colander and when you drain the pasta the hot water will thaw the peas.

To finish:
Fine dice tomatoes, green pepper, celery, onion, and egg and place into large bowl.
When the pasta is done add to the bowl, mix up with the seasonings and mayonnaise adjusting seasoning as you like.
This will keep well for two days.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Beef Stroganoff According to Gina

This is one of my favorite things to throw together as a quick weeknight meal. The only thing I strongly advise is to watch carefully the temperature before you decide to add the sour cream. The sauce will break and it will look ugly and curdled. Other than that, simple easy! Feeds 4. It was so good I forgot to snap a photo!

Ingredients:
350-400g (14 oz) beef – I like to use the stir-fry strips.
200-300g mushrooms – any kind you like
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
½ beef stock cube
Hot water
1-2 tbsp. tomato puree
1 c low fat soured cream (or cream, crème fraiche, yogurt)
1 tbsp. oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme

To start:
Dice onions, garlic, set aside.
Slice mushrooms.

To Cook:
Heat oil in a pan.
When hot add the beef, onions and garlic. Stir-fry till beef becomes browned.
Next add the mushrooms and thyme then fry for a further 5 minutes.
Add the puree, stock cube and a little water to get the juices moving.
Take off heat and just stir until the pan has cooled a bit.
Add the soured cream, and stir continuously.
Season, and serve over rice or egg pasta.

Monday 15 August 2011

Simple Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce

This came to me as I got some delicious tomatoes and basil in the veg box so I decided to make a light meal that turned out to be extra delicious and very simple with few ingredients. You can make this and store in the fridge for a few days. It would also be a great appetizer on top of toasted bread, or you can add shellfish. Get crazy. This serves 2.

Ingredients:
6 whole tomatoes (more or less depending on how big they are)
5 cloves of garlic (yes this has to be)
1 small onion
2 tbsp. olive oil
6-10 fresh basil leaves
Water for thinning out the sauce
Salt and lots of freshly ground pepper
Handful of parmesan cheese
~150g of fresh egg tagliatelle

To start:
Dice the tomatoes, onions, garlic.
Shred the basil.

To cook:
Heat the olive oil in the pan; when hot add the tomatoes, onion and garlic.
Turn down the heat to a simmer. Cook the tomatoes stirring constantly for 5-10 minutes.
Smash down the tomatoes as much as you can to release the juice.
If it cooks too fast and the juices run out you can add a little water to thin it out.
When it’s cooked down, add the basil, salt and pepper.

Serve over al dente pasta and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and more pepper.

Friday 12 August 2011

Crujiente Papas con Paprika

So this is the simplest recipe for a quick side dish, thanks Diana for checking my Spanish. These are "Crispy Potatoes with Paprika". The crispy potatoes you get from baking without having to fry them which is a plus! The paprika adds a really nice warm feel to them. Try!

Ingredients:
New Potatoes (small potatoes, adjust quantity to your needs)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. garlic powder
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

To cook:
Wash potatoes, and par boil them for 10 minutes.
Drain and put on a foil lined baking tray.
Smash the potatoes with the back of a spoon, not to mush, just to open them.
Drizzle the olive oil all over the potatoes.
Sprinkle all the seasonings on top.
Bake in a 200C (~400) oven for 16-20 minutes.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Creme Fraiche Baked Salmon

Sometimes trying to find something different to cook for dinner with the same proteins can be difficult. I’ve really learned to just start making the most of what’s in my kitchen and ordering staple ingredients that can have multiple uses. It’s important to me that the food I put in my body is not only tasty but good for me. You can’t get much better than this, a delicious and elegant recipe for all occasions. Made the recipe for 2 but easily can add more fish.



Ingredients:
2-4 salmon fillets or Scottish trout fillets
½- 1c reduced fat crème fraiche
2-3 garlic cloves
½ c freshly grated parmesan cheese
Handful of parsley

To Start:
Chop garlic, parsley and grate cheese (reserve a few pinches of cheese for the top of the fillets).
Mix all together with crème fraiche.

To cook:
Spread the mixture on top of the fillets and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on each fillet.
Place on an oiled foil lined baking tray.
Bake at 180C or ~350F for 10-12 minutes.

And voila, you’re done. Serve with salad and potatoes. Keep an eye out for my crispy paprika potatoes that I made with this.

Saturday 6 August 2011

Easy Weeknight Thai Curry

I didn’t realize how easy this recipe was going to be to make but when I set out to make it, the cook time was unbelievably fast. I recommend this as a quick dinner, and it’s very easily adaptable to what you have around the house. I reduced the fat by using a low fat coconut milk, but a full fat coconut milk will yield a thicker sauce which might appeal to some. Serves up to 4. My photo my not have come out the best but it is very delicious!!



Ingredients:
400g diced chicken breast
300g baby aubergine (baby eggplant, this is optional but reall is delicious)
1c slice fresh or frozen okra
2 tbsp. thai green curry paste
1 tbsp. lemon grass paste
1 can reduced fat coconut milk (full fat is fine)
1 small onion
1 chili
Handful Coriander
2 garlic cloves
½ lime
Basmati rice for serving

To start:
Dice onions, garlic and chili.
Slice aubergine in half or quarters.
Slice okra.

To Cook:
Heat a pan with oil.
When hot add chicken, aubergine, okra, onion, garlic, chili and stirfry until chicken is nicely brown.
Next add the coconut milk, coriander, and lime juice.
Cover with a lid and cook for about 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Friday 5 August 2011

Grilled Marinated Prawns with Creamy Blue Cheese Sauce

I would normally never make something as rich as this for a dinner, but I had a few ingredients lying around, and a tiny bit of patience to cook with. I wanted something hearty and tasteful but also was within the confines of my restrictive diet. I have to tell you about this product before I continue with the recipe, hopefully you can find this alternative to cream in every grocery store, but it’s delicious and has nearly a quarter of the calories that regular cream has. It is absolutely delicious and acceptable in replacing in any dish with cream. If you’re not able to find this then a simple cream sauce will work equally well (if you want to know how to make one let me know).

Ingredients for Marinated Prawns:
300-400g fresh Prawns
Handful fresh parsley
1 small chili
3 tbsp oil
3 garlic cloves
Juice half a lemon

Ingredients for Pasta Sauce:
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsp flour
250ml Alpro Soya Cream
50-100g blue cheese (as much as you like, depending on how much you like it)
½-1 c milk (depending on how thick you like it)
¼ grated parmesan cheese
1tbsp. butter

To start Marinate the Prawns:
Chop, chili, garlic, parsley add to a zip lock bag.
Add oil and lemon juice and put in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.

For the Sauce: (Also good time to start up the pasta water)
Melt the butter in the pan and add the garlic, when the garlic becomes fragrant turn the hob down to the lowest setting.
Add the flour and make sure it’s incorporated completely and cook the paste for about 5-6minutes, being careful not to darken the ‘roux’.
Next add the cream and milk stirring with a wisk to remove lumps. Cook about 5-8 minutes on low heat, pepper only at this point.

Next Cook the Prawns:
Heat a grill pan on high heat.
Dump all the prawns in the pan and flash cook them until just done. Turn off heat and let rest.

To Finish:
Add the parmesan cheese into the sauce, if needs more milk to thin it, add some.
Add the drained pasta with a little water into the sauce, and then add the prawns. Voila!

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Lighten Up! Southern Jambalaya

This recipe is definitely not Texan, but I can say it’s been part of my life as I am from the South. If I cook it the traditional way I use American long grain rice and chorizo sausage (Spanish dried sausage), and it really got greasy, so I tried to change a few ingredients lower some of the fat, and add some more nutrition. I replaced the white rice with whole grain brown basmati rice and replaced the sausage with a smoked reduced fat pork sausage. This recipe makes a lot, enough to feed more than 4, but it also freezes well and makes great freezer meals.



400g (12-14oz) diced chicken breasts
200g prawns (shrimp)
1 200g link of sausage (preferably reduced fat)
1 large onion
3-4 ribs celery
1 bunch of spring onions
1 large red pepper (or whatever colour you want)
3-4 cloves garlic
2 c brown basmati rice (or whatever you have)
4 cups water (about 2 pints)
1 chicken stock cube
4 tbsp. Paprika divided
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. olive oil ( you will need less if you use chorizo sausage)


To start:
Dice celery, onions, pepper and garlic set aside.
Dice into chunks the chicken, and slice the sausage set aside.
Make your stock.
Keep your spices out.

To Cook:
In a large stock pot, heat oil.
When hot add chicken, sausage and half the paprika and sauté about 8 minutes until the chicken is half cooked.
Remove from pan.
If you need more oil add another tbsp., and then add the vegetables, garlic and brown sugar. (if dry add ¼ c water. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften.
Add the rice and the stock, stir and bring to a boil, about 5 minutes.
Continue stirring, and add the remaining spices.
Make sure the pot is at a steady simmer and keep it there for 20 minutes.
Return to stir, and add prawns/shrimp, sliced spring onions last 5 minutes of cooking.
The Jambalaya will be done when the rice is soft. If it hasn’t gotten soft enough simply add more water.

Monday 1 August 2011

Oven Fish Sticks 'n' Zucchini Strips

Try this dish and you’ll never go back to boxed frozen fish sticks ever again. I had some salmon fillets and I wanted to try something new, as well as a new side dish, instead of the boring 'ol chips or fries. This recipe serves 2.


Ingredients:

250g salmon fillets (I used 2 fillets, about 5-6oz each)
1 c bread crumbs
¼ c parmesan cheese
½ c flour
2 egg whites
2 medium zucchini
1-2 tomatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
Garlic powder
Salt /pepper

Dipping Sauce ingredients:
2 tbsp. light mayo
2 tbsp. Maille Dijon mustard
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch Paprika

To start:
Make a breading station - three bowls
1- flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder
2- bread crumbs and parmesan cheese
3- egg whites slightly whipped

Next:
Pre-heat oven to 200C or 400F
Slice zucchini into thin half centimeter strips (the idea is to make them look like fries).
Quarter the tomatoes
Cover a baking sheet with foil.
Lay zucchini flat and spread apart so that each piece is exposed.
Sprinkle with tomatoes.
Lightly drizzle the olive oil over the zucchini and tomatoes, and salt and pepper.
Place into the oven.

To finish the fish: (Using one hand only for the breading part makes a huge difference)
Line another baking dish with foil and use spray oil to prevent sticking.
Cut the pieces of salmon into half inch pieces, about the length of your finger too.
Dip each piece in flour completely covering it.
Next dip into the egg whites.
Next dip into the bread crumb and make sure completely coated.
Place on the baking dish, and repeat until all salmon is done.
Place in the oven and the zucchini should be done at the same time the salmon is finished in 15-20 minutes.

Preparing the dip:
Mix all ingredients and serve individually in dipping bowls.


Note: Forgive my sloppy plating, I started eating before I realized I hadn’t snapped a photo!

Thursday 28 July 2011

Easy Zucchini Bread

Keeping with my American recipe, and my American background I’ll stick to calling this bread what I’ve known it as my whole life. Why make the change to courgette? This is a delicious bread that’s great for after dinner, snack time, or even dessert. I’ve cut down on some of the calories and fat by substituting the oil with cranberry and apple sauce. This keeps the moisture in the bread and helps it cook. Alternatively you can substitute the white sugar with a sugar substitute to further decrease the calorie count. Makes 1 loaf, but easily doubled for two.



Ingredients:
1 ½ c flour (I use half whole wheat, half white flour)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
2 small eggs
½ c apple sauce
¼ c cranberry sauce (jar or can works)
1 c white sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c grated zucchini
½ c sliced almonds ~50g

To start:
Sift together all dry ingredients in a medium bowl, flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon.
Next combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, cranberry sauce, apple sauce, grated zucchini and almonds.
Slowly mix together the flour until completely incorporated.

To finish:
Pour in a greased loaf pan and put into a 350F (180C) oven, and cook for about 45min-1hr.

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Cous Cous Stuffed Peppers

I love peppers, who doesn’t love peppers? I have to say they’re one of the most versatile and nutritious ingredients that I use in almost every dish that I make. With one red pepper containing loads of vitamins along with your daily requirement of vitamin c they’re something more people should consider using, unless of course you’re allergic. The peppers along with tomatoes belong to a family called the nightshades. They’re known to cause some uncomfortable side effects and some people stay away from this class of vegetable. But if you try this recipe it would make an excellent starter, side dish, or even a main meal with a salad.



Ingredients:
3-4 Peppers varying in colour
1 c whole wheat cous cous (non-whole wheat is fine)
2 c vegetable stock
1 celery stalk
Half onion
2 cloves garlic
1 Can chopped tomatoes
Handful Mozzarella for melting on the top (use as much as you prefer)
½ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. basil
½ tsp. red chili flakes
½ c fresh flat leaf parsley
Pinch Saffron (optional)
5-6 pieces of sun dried tomato (optional)

To Start:
Dice: celery, onion, garlic, parsley, sun dried tomato. Set aside.
Make the stock.

Next:
In a bowl place the cous cous and all the diced vegetables on top including the saffron.
Pour the hot stock over the cous cous and cover tightly with cling film. Let this sit untouched for 10-15 minutes.

To Finish:
In a baking dish, arrange your peppers. I like to cut them in quarters because they can be quite big.
When the cous cous is done remove the cling film and carefully scoop into pepper shells.
When the peppers are completely full and the cous cous is gone, pour the chopped tomatoes all over the top.
Sprinkle with the oregano and basil, top with the mozzarella.
Cover tightly with foil and bake at 200C (400F) for about 45 minutes or until they’re softly roasted.
You can opt to take off the foil the last few minutes of baking and get a nice colour on the mozzarella.

Monday 25 July 2011

Comfort Soup - Chicken Tortilla

I'm constantly bringing traditions from home into my new life here, this is one of my favourite recipes, and I had the chance to make it again a couple of weeks ago when my husband got sick. Shortly thereafter I found myself ill as well, so the big pot helped soothe my soul. Although a lot of people like chicken noodle soup as a cure for the soul's aches and pains, I enjoy the Tex-Mex twist and familiar flavours of home. Make sure you have a big stock pot to cook this in. Keep it handy in the freezer for a colder autumn day and it'll will guarantee come in handy to cure what ails you.

Ingredients:
400g (12-15oz) on the bone drums or chicken thighs
3 ribs of celery
1 medium green pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 can tomatoes chopped
2 medium onions
50-100g (2 large handfuls) coriander (cilantro)
½ American long grain rice (not the easy cook stuff either!)
½ tsp. cumin
1tsp salt
Garlic powder
1 tsp. pepper
4pts water

To start:
Chop celery, one onion, pepper, and clove of garlic.
Heat the water in a stock pot, and add chicken, chopped celery, onion, pepper and garlic. Season liberally with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. When it has reached a boil, turn down to a simmer for about 30-40 minutes.
When the chicken is falling off the bone remove and set aside on a plate to cool.

Continue:
Bring the water back up to a boil.
Dice and add another onion.
Re-season with garlic powder, and salt and pepper as needed.
Add the rice, and can of tomatoes.
Take the meat off the bones and remove it back to the pot, and cook for 15 minutes until rice is done.

To finish:
Add the cilantro the last five minutes of cooking.
Serve with Tortilla chips and shredded cheese, garnish with avocado.

Friday 22 July 2011

Wine and Dine Lamb Shanks

So this is the recipe I talked about making last weekend. It came out just as I expected it, delicious succulent meaty and juicy. The meat could not have fallen off the bone more delicately and it was exactly what the doctor ordered in my house. Although this isn’t going to be on my weekly menu as I’ve got a very strict restriction on meats, it will definitely be a wonderful treat throughout the winter months. This recipe serves 2 as I cooked it for two, but if doubled it would be just as good for 4 people, enjoy! Note: I can’t stress enough, to cook this dish you need an oven-proof casserole, or else you’ll be melting your cookware!



Ingredients:

2 Lamb Shanks
3 fat carrots
6 small-medium potatoes (3 per person)
1 yellow onion
1 red onion
6 garlic cloves (whole, the more the merrier)
2 c lamb stock (one lamb stock cube)
2 glasses of red wine
4-6 tomatoes
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
¼ c flour
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp. light oil

To Prep:
Take a dinner plate out and put the flour on the plate.
Lay the lamb shanks on the flour and hit them with salt and pepper, then roll them in the flour. Setting aside leaving them to rest and get the chill off.
Peel and chop the carrots into large chunks.
Clean the potatoes.
Chop the onions in to large chunks as well.
Peel the garlic but do not chop.
Dice the tomatoes but set aside.

To cook:
Heat the casserole dish with the oil.
When hot lay the shanks down and brown on all sides for about 10 minutes.
Add the carrots, potatoes, garlic, rosemary, thyme sprigs, garlic, and give a few turns in the pan.
Add the stock, wine, and tomatoes last.
Bring to a boil and put into an 180C oven for about 1 ½ - 2 hrs. It’s worth the wait.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

According to Gina: Everyone Has a Role in Using a Casserole

Over the past weekend I was just in the shop getting a few things and I decided I wanted to try my hand at a very meaty and potatoes dish, so I had my eyes on a bone on piece of something to cook. I stumbled across lamb shanks. I’ve never cooked lamb shanks before but I had a good idea of what to do with them, and instantly started my mind going. They were so big I didn’t know how to even cook them. I have several shallow casserole dishes, that to be honest aren’t even worthy of cooking a proper casserole or lasagne in, too shallow and messy, especially for this mighty bone of a job. My husband is putting up with me running around the store chucking things in the basket that I might need, herbs, spices, flavours running through my head, how do I make it fast? How do I make it easy? Two things that never escape my mind while running around juggling ingredients. Trying to decide what you’re going to put in something to make it taste just exactly as you taste it in your head takes a toll on the ‘ol hubby following around. The bit that has his attention at high, is the lamb shanks he’s carrying around in the basket.
As I’m going through the flavour profile that I want, which is always simple and fresh, I’m still thinking on what I’m going to cook these ginormous shanks in! What will fit the potatoes, and carrots I want to add, plus all the delicious jus! And then I pass it…the aisle with all of the home ware on it. Mind you it’s not a great aisle, and it’s just my local supermarket, but it just crossed my mind to go and peek to see if they had anything applicable.
Usually I’m picky about my home wares. I like to buy things that are going to prove to be quality and have multiple uses. I would never buy one single thing with the intention of using it for one thing. I stumbled upon this huge cream coloured casserole dish and almost exactly what I wanted, minus the trendy posh ‘Le Cruset’. Who needs a logo when you can see right in front of you, that the £29.99, solid cast iron casserole that could take someone’s foot off if dropped, wasn’t all you ever wanted? It was nearly half the price of a high priced one but with all the same materials. Cast iron speaks for itself ladies and gents; if it looks sturdy and good then it probably is good, no matter where you purchase it.
In my recent acquisition of new parts for my well-oiled kitchen, I attained some ceramic pots from France that is the most adorable addition to my kitchen. I received them as a birthday present and have tried them out only as soufflé pots but when I get a blow torch it’s on for crème brulee. Seems that I have the French theme going on in my kitchen right now, what am I going to make next, a coq au vin? All that I know is that my mind is on cooking, and getting the right pots gets me excited to make the best food I can make, and make it profitable! What you use in your everyday life should reflect in your cooking. If you hate your utensils then get new ones and find a peace with the food that you create and be the master in your kitchen! Look out for my lamb shanks and soufflés.

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Carne Guisada (Ghee-SA-tha)

I grew up with this recipe as a very big staple in our meal regime. We would eat this at least two times a month, with tortillas and fresh Spanish rice and refried beans just like mom would make it. But I know perfectly well that it’s not easy cooking like your mom or grandma but I decided to try my hand at it anyway, to remake this classic Tex-Mex recipe. Note: This goes excellent with my Simple Spanish Rice. Serves 4.

Ingredients:
400-500g (14-16oz) cubed beef
½ onion
½ green pepper
1 chili
½ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp. flour
2 c water
1 beef stock cube
Freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp. tomato puree
1 tbsp. olive oil

To start:
Dice the beef if not in cubes.
Slice onion, pepper, chili, and garlic.
Prepare the stock 1 cube to 2c water.

To cook:
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan.
Throw the beef, onions, pepper, chili and garlic in. Sauté for 5-7 minutes until meat browns.
Add the flour and spices, and cook for a further 5 minutes, being careful not to burn the flour.
Add half the stock and tomato puree and stir, add as much stock as you need to get to the thickness you like (I start off with half the stock to make sure it doesn’t get too thin).
Simmer on the hob for about 15-20 minutes until meat is completely cooked through and tender.
Serve with tortillas and my Simple Spanish Rice.

Monday 18 July 2011

Sea Bass and Broad Bean Foil Packets

This is a technique that’s very easy to use, and maybe one that some people forget to use, I know I did. I was tired of just oven baking a fish and constantly watching it to make sure that the fish was getting done without overcooking, and then I just remembered that I could wrap individual portions into parcels and bake in the oven at a set time and the steam and moisture would cook and keep moist whatever was in the packet. You could really use your imagination with this as any vegetable can go inside with whatever seasoning you like. This is my recipe and it serves the two of us but since it’s in parcels you just adjust the ingredients as needed.



Ingredients:
2 sea bass fillets
1kg broad beans (prepared- see below)
½ punnet cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
1 lemon
1 handful parsley leaves
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2-3 fresh basil leaves per packet
Tin foil

To prepare the Broad beans:
Bring a pot of water to a boil.
Shell all the broad beans.
Blanch them for 3-5mins in boiling water.
Take them out and put in cold ice water to stop the cooking process.
Peel the outer layer of skin off the beans to reveal a bright green bean, set aside.

Note: This is a timely but rewarding process; you could easily skip it and try this recipe with any other type of bean, such as French.

To making the packet filling:
Quarter all tomatoes and add to a bowl. (Smash the tomato out a bit so the juices come out)
Chop garlic, parsley finely and add to bowl.
Next lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and broad beans and mix thoroughly.
Set aside and let sit 5 minutes.

Build the packet:
Lay out sheets of foil big enough to double over and fold in the packet contents securely without any air getting free.
Lay down the fish pour a portion of the tomato, broad bean mixture on top and secure tightly.

Bake at 200C or 400F for about 20-30mins.

Thursday 14 July 2011

Cauliflower Mash-up

This recipe was adapted from the typical meat and potatoes approach to dinner. I wanted to try and lighten it up to where I didn’t have to feel so weighted down after a meal by potatoes. I decided to try the cauliflower and now we have it every time. It’s really a great side dish as well even if you don’t want to replace the potatoes.

Ingredients:

1 large head of cauliflower
3 cloves garlic
2 leeks (or just use half a small onion or omit)
2-4 tbsp. cream
Salt/pepper

To start:
Cut florets off the cauliflower, cutting around the bitter core.
Smash the garlic.
Slice and clean thoroughly the leeks, and if using onions just chop them.
Toss everything in a steamer and steam for about 10 minutes or until everything is very soft.

To finish:
When everything is soft, blitz in a food processor or hand held blender with the cream. Salt and pepper to taste.
My suggestion is to serve immediately with a hot steak and marinated mushrooms.


Note: Although this is really easy, I suggest you use a steamer to cook the cauliflower, rather than boiling it because it prevents a watery texture. If you have to boil it, use a paper towel to make sure it’s completely dry when you begin to mash.
If you don’t have a food processor or a handheld blender, you could put some elbow grease into it and mash it up with a potato masher. Enjoy!

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Marinated Veggies Are Happy Veggies

This is a good and very simple marinade for any vegetable and it holds up well with high heat and can be used to sauté or grill vegetables, although I prefer grilling. After moving here I’ve been faced with a lot of hurdles regarding cooking. I used to use my favourite HEB zesty light Italian dressing as a marinade, but after seeing the selection of salad dressings I’ve had to revert to my creativity for answers regarding marinating vegetables. You can make this ahead of time and keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Ingredients:
¼ c olive oil
Juice of one lemon
½ red onion
3 garlic cloves
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Couple handfuls of any herbs (I use parsley and sage, but coriander, basil etc will do)
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
½ red pepper

Dice up garlic, pepper and onion into a fine dice, and mix everything together until incorporated (My trick is use a jar and just shake it all up when you’ve added all the ingredients).
Ideally marinade your veg an hour or two before cooking, although overnight wouldn’t hurt.

Suggestions of Veg: Mushrooms, corn on the cob, zucchini (courgettes), eggplant (aubergine), onions, peppers etc..

Monday 11 July 2011

Easy Ceviche

Ceviche is something that associates its origin with Latin cuisine but has lent a helping hand to a lot of different occasions. Ceviche traditionally is made by cooking raw fish by citrus fruit; lemons, limes, oranges. I tend to make mine with pre-cooked shrimp, squid, or whatever I have, takes out some of the risk. Ceviche is excellent and makes a great starter or a great addition to a table of nibbles at a party. There are a few basic methods of whipping up one, and a variety of versatile ingredients to add. It’s good fun, low in fats, and just a good addition to a your normal chips and dips snack session or as a posh starter to a meal. This recipe can serve 4 as a starter, or several more as on a table. Remember, nothing has to be exact; it’s all about how you like it. So season, and add as little or as much as you want of any ingredient.

Ingredients:
250g pre-cooked prawns/shrimp ( ½ lb.)
1 large hass avocado
2 juicy limes (we want about ¼ c liquid)
1 lemon
6-10 cherry tomatoes
2 handfuls of coriander
Quarter of red pepper
Half red onion
Salt

To Start/Finish:
Dice onion, red pepper, coriander, tomatoes and avocado and add to a large bowl.
Dice the prawns a little to stretch them out, add to bowl.
Add citrus to bowl.
Season with salt to your liking.
Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!

Thursday 7 July 2011

Catch-up on Life Chicken Cacciatore

So this dish is traditionally an Italian stew, but I just happened to have these ingredients and jazzed it up with a few spices and it really is the simplest one pan meal for a family. I made mine and served it on wholegrain rice to give it an extra burst of nutrition. Serves 4.

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts
1 red pepper
½ yellow pepper
1 medium onion
150g mushrooms (chestnut and button)
1 can chopped Italian tomatoes
2-3 cloves of garlic
½ -1 tbsp. olive oil
1 glass of white wine
½ tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. basil
½ tsp. red chili flakes
Salt/pepper
Garlic powder
Pinch of chicken bouillon cube

To start:
Heat a pan with some of the oil, while it’s getting hot salt, pepper, garlic powder one side of the chicken breast.
When the oil is hot lay the seasoned side down, and season the side flipped up.
Let those brown in the pan for about 4-5 minutes per side.

To Continue:
As the chicken breasts are browning in the pan, slice the peppers, onion, mushrooms, garlic.
Open the cans pour the glass of wine.
Set seasonings aside.

To finish:
When the chicken has cooked 4-5 minutes per side and is nicely browned, remove from pan and set on a plate. Set aside.
Add a dab more oil to the pan to get hot, when hot add the onions and peppers and stir-fry for about 5 minutes until you can see them getting tender.
Next add the mushrooms and garlic and sauté until they start to get tender.
Pour the glass of wine into the vegetables and boil until the liquid has been reduced by half or so.
When reduced add the can of chopped tomatoes, oregano, basil, chili flakes and pinch of bouillon cube.
When the pan is at a boil return the chicken breasts and juice on the plate back to the pan and continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes with a lid on. Serve over rice when done.

Monday 4 July 2011

Drunken Whole Wheat Bread 'n' Butterless Pudding

This is the most adaptable throw it together thing you can make. You cannot mess this one up! Just get your feel for the ingredients and add an extra bit of milk, take away some bread, and voila you have a delicious anytime sweet treat, I made mine with a leftover loaf of whole wheat bread, and soy milk which adds to the fibre, also adds less fat and calories with the soy milk.



Ingredients:
¼- ½ loaf of day old bread
1 ½ - 2 pints milk, or soy milk
4 large eggs
½ c brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch nutmeg
½ c raisins or sultanas soaked in Cointreau or amaretto (if you’re naughty)

To Start:
Slice the bread and dice it into 1 inch cubes, and leave them in the casserole dish you’re going to cook the pudding in, you want to dry it out and make sure it’s stale before you put it in the custard.
You can leave it out all day if you’d like. But 1-2hrs should be good.

For the pudding mix:
In a large bowl mix the milk, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg until the mixture is completely incorporated.
Next add the drunken raisins and about ½ of the liquor if you soaked them.

To Finish:
When your bread is stale and ready to be combined with the pudding mix, add the bread pieces slowly to the custard and press it down and make sure it all gets soaked in, and that there are no dry pieces of bread. Extra liquid is ok but you want to make sure that there is enough liquid to soak into each piece of bread, so by doing it slow you might not need all of your bread.
Pour back into your casserole, and make sure any extra liquid is all poured on top of the bread.
Bake for 40-50 minutes at 160C or ~350F.
This can be served with custard over the top or ice cream if you dare.