Friday, 28 October 2011

Moved house, had a baby!

Thanks everyone for being patient with me. I have recently moved house which was a lot of work and still is, and I also had a baby boy a week ago :) So because of this I have not had much time for blogging. Now I'm trying to find the adapter to my camera so that I can start uploading pictures and blog again... I just wonder which box it could be in!!?

Monday, 4 July 2011

Spinach risotto, apple cake and Chicken

Sorry again for the long wait. I have just been really busy, plus our internet is not working like it should be which doesnt help. But I have been cooking!

This is the 'Apple and Walnut Cake' from Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess. Except after making all sort of substitutions I had really made Anna del Conte's Torta di mele. But what's for certain is that the cake is absolutely delicious! Doesnt really come across in the picture, but trust me, it was lovely. This is an excellent way of using up apples past their best.
The way I made it:
100 g raisins boiled in 75 ml water until water has evaporated (drain though in any case!)
150 ml vegetable oil
200 g caster sugar
2 eggs
350 g plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
450 g apples, peeled, cored and cut into small cubes
Zest of 1 lemon

20 cm springform cake tin, buttered and floured.

Preheat oven to 180'C/Gas 4.

Beat oil and sugar together with an electric mixer, then add the eggs one by one. Fold in dry ingredients with a metal spoon, then stir in apples, lemon zest and raisins. This will be quite a stiff batter. Spoon into prepared tin and smooth the top and bake for 1 hour. Do check towards the end. Let the cake stand in the tin for about 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack. Lovely eaten that day, but even nicer the next!

This spinach risotto is yet another recipe from Ursula Ferrigno's Truly Italian and yet again it was yummy!

Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za'atar and lemon.

This recipe came from Ottolenghi, the cookbook. Very nice book (very very nice baking chapter should you be interested!). Flavourful dish, although we felt it could have done with some sort of sauce.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Ice Cream!

I have been a little absent. Lots going on. To tackle the mice problem we just had to get a kitten as nothing else worked. Along with Miss 21 months he is keeping me very busy. Here is a picture of him sleeping after I gave him a bath! Trust me, he needed it!

I made this ice cream before the start of Junk Free June. Although.. JFJ hasnt gone too well! Unexpectantly quickly we managed to sell our house and we've been going to viewings, cleaning and de-cluttering. The same day as we accepted the winning bid on the house we also had two viewings later on in the evening and we were so tired afterwards that take-out was the natural choice. So there went junk free june. We also celebrated the sale with a few squares of chocolate. Also, have been baking! Ah... well. But generally, junk free!

This is a vanilla and mango ice cream. No churn!

I found it on this blog and have been making it with many variations:

This time I added powdered vanilla and two ripe honey mangoes. Lovely!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Pasta, asparagus and cake

A few weeks ago I won a cookbook (yes, I won!!) after leaving a comment on a give-away post over at Kelly-Jane's blog 'Cooking the Books'. The book I won was Audrey Gordon's Tuscan Summer. The book itself is a comedy really, perhaps a bit too much sometimes, but I admit to laughing out loud a few times. In-between the silly stuff are recipes, and my eyes fell on 'Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta' immediately and I decided this was going to be the first dish to try out.

Verdict: Totally delicious! This is one of those 'heaven-on-a-plate' meals for me. I started off with heating olive oil in a pan, then adding garlic (bit more than stated, I am a real garlic person), nutmeg and a little butter (1tsp for me as I halved the recipe). Then I threw in some finely sliced spinach leaves and left that for a few minutes before I seasoned with salt and pepper, then spooned in ricotta and double dream with a bit of cooking water from the pasta. Left this to simmer for about 5 minutes. When the pasta was cooked, I drained it and added it to the pan and stirred in some freshly grated parmesan. Lovely! Master 10 and Miss 1 both finished their plates.

Asparagus quiche:

I thought I might as well try something else with asparagus. It was very nice, but I do pefer them either steamed and dressed with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper..perhaps a bit of parmesan, or in a risotto. Cooked it a bit long here as you can see. No harm done though.

Carrot Cake - Dan Lepard:

I had been craving carrot cake for a while and decided to try a new recipe. I have developed a recipe myself which is the one I make most often, but I thought a bit of new input would be good and saw this recipe on Dan Lepard's forum:

It was easy to make and nice and moist. Wasn't too keen on the icing with lemon flavour, which is kind of strange as I normally adore lemon, but on a carrot cake it just didn't do it for me. I still think mine is better, but I'm obviously a bit partial to that one... :)

We are entering June soon and I am planning a 'Junk Free June' after it was suggested on the food forum I don't really eat much junk to be honest, except for the odd chocolate on a weekend. It has been agreed that if one must eat chocolate it should be fairtrade or organic in June and that's totally fine by me. I have also chosen to limit the intake of a few things to make it a 'Junk Free June'. I might not be able to shut these out completely, but I will try. That is no sugar (so no baking in June!), no cream or sour cream..and the likes, no full fat milk in cooking (dont drink it anyways), no bread with less than 50% wholemeal and no white pasta. Since I'm in charge of cooking and bread baking it shouldnt be too hard.

Hmmmm... I better hurry up and bake something this weekend then before June comes! Not terrific timing wise to have ordered two new baking books off amazon...

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Stuffed mushroom, greens and potato wedges

I made green beans from Nigella Feast (green beans in herbed yoghurt - although I had no fresh herbs that day) which is my favourite way of eating them.

Potato wedges were also inspired by Nigella Feast and seasoned with salt, paprika and chilli pepper flakes. 1 hour at 210'C/Gas 7. (I also left them on a lower shelf while the mushrooms were cooking).

I stuffed field mushrooms with a mixture of pesto, tomatoes (seeds removed), garlic, onion, salt and pepper, then topped with cheddar. They were baked in the oven for about 20 minutes at 200'C/Gas 6.

Monday, 16 May 2011

A sweet treat and more...

This was just a salad starter that I made for my husband and myself one evening, followed by spaghetti with a deconstructed pesto. For the starter I used two gem leaves for each of us and filled it with a mixture of cheese, green olives, tomatoes and parsley in a light salad dressing. It was good fun eating salad in this fashion! This is officially one of the best loaves of bread I've made this far:

I mixed 500g flour with 300ml handhot water and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then I dissolved 20g fresh yeast in a couple of tbsp of water and added this along with 2 tbsp sourdough starter, 10g salt and a handful of flour and kneaded for ages and ages. How come I knead for an eternity and still no windowpane??? I did stretch and fold a couple of times and I think it was slightly over-proved in the end but it did not damage the end result. I shouldnt have bothered scoring it though, lesson learned!

Then an other day I made focaccia to go with tomato soup. There was also some left for my husband to take to work as sandwiches.

Nigella's Italian Tomato and Pasta soup:

Ever since I spotted British tomatoes in the shops I've been itching to make tomato soup. I usually make Linda McCartney's recipe, but this time I decided to give Nigella a go, and it is from Nigella Kitchen. It is the very last recipe in the book.

Approx. 575 g ripe and fantastic tomatoes

3 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 large oinion, finely chopped

1.5 litres cold water

1 tsp sea salt

freshly ground pepper

2 tsp caster sugar

150 g soup pasta

sour cream to serve (optional)

Fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

Skin the tomatoes by placing them in a bowl and pouring hot water over them. Nigella says to start frying whole garlic cloves and then discarding them before adding chopped onion. I didnt do that, I sauteed onion and added minced garlic cloves and fried a little longer. I skinned tomatoes, you were also supposed to get rid of seeds and white membrane, but not me thanks! Had quite a few small tomatoes and I just couldnt be bothered. Then add tomatoes to onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Now add water and let it come to a boil, then add salt, pepper and sugar and leave it to simmer for 20 minutes for chunky soup and 40 minutes for smooth soup. I chose the smooth option and proceeded to give it a few goes in the blender, then back in the pan for 10 more minutes along with the pasta. Check seasoning.

Verdict: It is a really nice soup, but I think it would greatly benefit from some more flavour, such as a few parmesan rinds while simmering...mmm.. now that's a thought!

OK... this turned out to be a slightly odd meal! I made a Mediterranean Pepper Salad, from Nadia Sawalha's Stuffed Vine Leaves Saved My Life. I thought it was really nice, but the rest of the family thought the dinner was rather poor. I also made some pasta dressed in lemon infused olive oil, but it was rather boring, I should have just mixed the pasta into the salad. We live and learn. The flatbreads are from River Cottage Bread Book, and not unlike naan, only naan is tastier in my opinion. I also made use of them the next morning for breakfast by sandwiching two together with grated cheese, English mustard, parsley and tomatoes and then frying them on the griddle pan. Very pleasant.

Now finally for the sweet finale! This is also from Nigella Kitchen and is called 'No-fuss fruit tart', and it definitely lived up to that. No-fuss it was. Basically, all I had to do was to blitz 375 g digestive biscuits with 75 g unsalted butter in the food processor. Press these crumbs into a 25cm tart tin and put it in the fridge while you mix the filling. In a clean processer bowl, mix 400 g cream cheese with 240 g lemon curd, take your tart tin out of the fridge and fill with the cream and curd mixture. Then decorate with berries of your choice. (actually, she lists 125 g each of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, redcurrants or pomegranate seeds and strawberries.. but I sort of just did my own thing). I let it stand overnight in the fridge. It didnt set completely and was still a little runny, but it was very tasty. Very cheesecaky flavour.
Definitely worth making.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

May cooking and eating

Yesterday I flicked through a few cookbooks for inspiration when planning this weeks menu. I take great comfort in menu planning. It makes shopping easier and saves me spending the whole day thinking about what to cook. For Monday I landed on Nigel Slater's Aspargus and Lemon risotto from Kitchen Diaries. Aspargus are in season at the moment and one must make the most of it. This risotto ticked all the boxes for us and the flavour was very satisfying.

Butter: A thick slice, about 50 g.

One small onion, finely chopped.

Arborio rice: 200 g

A glass of white wine or Noilly Prat (I used schloer, a sparkling grape juice)

Aspargus: 400 g (I used 320 g), chopped.

Hot chicken stock: 1 litre (you could use vegetable stock to make this a vegetarian risotto)

Lemons: 2 (I used juice of 1/2 and zest of 1)

Grated Parmesan: 3 tbsp

I used a mixture of olive oil and butter for frying the onion. Had half a red onion lying about so I used that. I also added a finely chopped stick of celery for more flavour. Then add the rice and let it get coated by the butter, and then your schloer. Then pour in a ladleful of stock and let it cook, when it is evaporated add chopped aspargus and more stock. Then proceed with adding stock, lemon zest and juice until rice is cooked. This will take approx. 20 minutes. When you are satisfied , add parmesan (and a nut of butter if you wish) and check seasoning. The recipe serves 2, according to Nigel Slater, but it fed 2 adults and 2 kids last night :)

Pasta with sweet tomato sauce

I had some lovely sweet British tomatoes that I wanted to use. Of course, they are quite excellent uncooked in salads or just for munching.. but I fancied a tomatoes-in-season-pasta-sauce. This is what I did:

1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp butter for frying

1/2 red onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tbsp tomato puree

150 g sweet tomatoes

150 ml stock (vegetable, chicken or beef)

A handful of flat leaf parsley

Basil infused olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Parmesan cheese

110 g wholewheat spaghetti (that was what was left in the pack!)

Saute onion in olive oil and butter until soft, add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds, then add the tomato puree and the fresh tomatoes. Let it cook for about 3 minutes. Put your pasta on, according to packet instructions. Now add your stock and let it simmer on medium heat. When the pasta is almost done and your sauce has thickened, add the parsley to the tomatoes and stir. Turn the heat off and stir in about 1 - 2 tsp of Basil oil (or if you have fresh basil that's all good). Check and adjust seasoning. Drain your spaghetti and add it to the sauce, give it a good stir and plate up! Grate some parmesan over if you wish. This served me and Miss 1 generously.

This will be my entry for Presto Pasta Nights (, which is hosted by Jacqueline over at this week.

Greek lamb chops with lemon and potatoes

I am not awfully keen on lamb, but this is a surprisingly tasty dish which I have made a few times. It's from Nigella Kitchen by Nigella Lawson. I love the spices used here and next time I am roasting potatoes I am going to use this as flavouring (garlic oil, dried mint, dried chilli flakes, sea salt, lemons - zest and juice- and parsley).

Southern potato curry

Another reicpe from I love Curry by Anjum Anand. I fancied adding some greens to this curry which went well. Served with roti and salad.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

I'm still here!

I have been on holiday for a couple of weeks and thus not been able to blog. I was mostly ill whilst on holiday, sadly, but managed to do some cooking. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of what I made. I did however take pictures of yesterday's meal at home and my lunch today.

This is a paneer and pepper curry from Anjum Anand's 'I love curry'. I loved it, Miss 1 ate it though found it spicy, Master 10 ate it reluctantly (1: Where's the meat and 2: I already had curry at school) and hubby liked it ( come you didn't make palak paneer??). I served it with naan and a salad.

For lunch today Miss 1 and myself had the Corsican Omelette from Nigella Lawson's 'Forever Summer'. I am generally not too keen on omelettes.. they are so...eggy! But this one was lovely, with mint and feta cheese (should have been chevre, but didnt have any). Served with rocket, tomatoes and avocado with a drizzle of lemon oil and sea salt.

Attention sourdough bakers! I had a go at making sourdough during my holiday, but faced two problems:

1) It turned out like a brick

2) Too sour

What to do?

Friday, 15 April 2011

no croutons required entry

This is the first time I enter 'no croutons required', a competition hosted by Jacqueline over at This month we were supposed to pick a topic listed under our birthday month - March in my case. I chose to make an Indian Salad (or Indian-inspired salad if you're in the purist camp!) Indian salad with fresh herbs and blackeye beans - serves 2 as a light lunch

1 fresh red chilli (de-seeded if you don't like it too hot), very finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 scant teaspoon Dijon mustard (yes French, not Indian, I know lol)

Zest and Juice of half a small unwaxed lemon

Small handful each of chopped fresh mint and coriander (or parsley if you like)

Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste

Mix this dressing up in a bowl, then get on with the other ingredients:

1/2 small red onion, chopped very finely

About 10 sweet cherry tomatoes, halved

10 cm piece of cucumber, cut into thin ribbons

1x400 g tin of blackeye beans, rinsed

Add this to the dressing and mix well, then leave for 15 - 20 minutes if you can. Check seasoning again before serving. I ate this with a very non-Indian slice of crusty bread which I thought worked well.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Some more baking

I am baking bread fairly regularly, sometimes every day. 1) like it fresh, 2) small freezer. Now that my husband is converted to homemade bread, I have to bake more often as he takes it to work too. This first bread was absolutely gorgeous and I shall be making it again very soon. It's from Ursula Ferrigno's 'The New Family Bread Book'. It uses half strong brown flour and half strong white, but I think next time I will go just strong brown as I think this bread will carry it really well. And it's only myself and Miss 1 who eat bread with dried fruits anyway and we don't mind a bit of wholemeal. I did not follow the recipe to the letter... and I rarely do. Here is the recipe as I made it. Treacle and Date bread: 250 g wholemeal flour 250 g strong white flour 20 g fresh yeast (or 3.5 tsp dried yeast) 50 g butter, cold and cubed 1 tsp fine sea salt 85 g dates, chopped (note: 100 g would be nice I think) approx 300 ml tepid water For some reason blogger wont let me write this recipe neatly on different lines. So bare with me....(as the ladies on the phone say). Rub butter into the flour and add salt (and dried yeast, if using). Mix your fresh yeast into a little of the water and add to the dry ingredients, then add more water until the dough comes together. Add the chopped dates and knead the dough until smooth. I did about 5 minutes. Form into a ball and leave to rise for 1 hour or when it has doubled in size. Then knock back gently by spreading the dough flat onto the worktop and fold the 'ends' in to the middle until it makes a round shape. Then turn it around and tuck the dough under itself to make a nice ball. Leave to prove for 30 minutes and score the bread so it has several diamond shapes. Bake at G7/ 220'C for about 30 minutes. This all depends on your oven. Mine needed to be turned down to G6/200'C half way through. Lovely as it is or with butter. Even after 3 days it was yummy. Some people has not quite got the hang of scoring yet: This bread is the plain white loaf (with some wholemeal in my case) from River Cottage. UK residents can view it here: (PS. Totally MUST have an outdoor pizza oven like that. First I need a garden though!) For every kg of flour, you need 10 g dried yeast (I used 20g fresh), 15 g sea salt and water to form a dough. Even though I mostly do stretch and fold, I did some good old kneading here and then left it to rise in the fridge overnight. Formed the loaves this morning before the school run and baked them when I came back. Simple and delicious. That people think it's hard to bake bread is a mystery to me. It seems like someone has had a slice of the bread to the left..I wonder who... :D
This bread is half strong white flour and half fine semolina. Didn't take note of how much I put in of what, but I reckon I used about 500 ml of water.

I hope to start a sourdough adventure when I come back from holiday.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Proud moment

Yesterday was a good day. A great day even. I finally decided to give homemade pasta a go. People had been telling me that it was indeed a very simple task but I was never convinced. I felt it would probably be a lot of faffing about and it would most definitely end in disappointment. Also, I don't have a pasta machine and thought that was pretty much a must. When I read Claudia Roden's Book of Jewish Food some time ago, it came to my attention that the Jews back in the days used to roll out their pasta dough. And I thought, well I suppose they must have done that in Italy too before the pasta machine was invented. And then yesterday, as I was flicking through Katie Caldesi's The Italian Cookery Course, I saw that she had written instructions for both hand cut pasta and machine cut pasta and the instructions were very clear and it seemed straight forward enough, so I thought, why not?

Her recipe said 100 g of flour to one egg, so I used 200 g of Doves Organic Pasta Flour (tipo '0') and 2 large Organic Eggs. I kneaded the dough for about 10 minutes and left it to rest wrapped in clingfilm for 30 minutes. Then I rolled it out until it was so thin that I could see my hand through it, rolled it up and cut it into strips. It put it straight into a large pot of salted boiling water and cooked it for 2 -3 minutes. Then tossed it in freshly made pesto and served it. I was going to make a salad to go with it and had set about marinating red onion in balsamic vinegar, but got so busy with the pasta that I didn't get the time. And I also wanted to eat the pasta as soon as possible while it was fresh from the pan. Even picky Master 10 liked it, and he was very worried beforehand!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Mushroom Stroganoff and baking joy

We had our wedding anniversary recently and we're both very keen on mushrooms and so the choice fell on a most delicious dish, Mushroom Stroganoff. I turned to my very favourite cookbook - Nigella's Feast - and to the tried and tested Mushroom Stroganoff recipe in the 'Meatless Feasts' Chapter. I didn't get the chance to take a photograph when it was all dished up, but took one as it was bubbling in my beloved Le Creuset buffet pan. You can find the recipe here: Next up is Floyd's Daily Bread: Made with a poolish it has lovely flavour and the high hydration gives a great texture.

This is my favourite Focaccia from Ursula Ferrigno's Truly Italian. That book is a real gem and a must have for any lover of the Italian Cuisine in my opinion.

I first saw this cinnamon pull apart bread on Joy the Baker's blog.

I admit that I didn't follow her recipe, but used my usual sweet dough recipe and copied her way of layering the dough.. although to be fair, hers is a little bit prettier.. what can I say, I am a rustic baker! As usual I didn't pay attention to the order I uploaded the pictures, but I think you can see what is the finished product.


Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Danish Tebirkes, A Vegetarian Lunch and Lebanese Pasta Bake

Tebirkes Some of you might have heard about Danish Tebirkes before, some of you might be introduced to them this very moment! Birkes in Danish are Poppy seeds which the breads are topped with. I didn't have any and I'm sure any Dane would tell me off if they knew. I don't really feel that bad about it. So what are they? Tebirkes are made from a dough that has cold butter folded into it and has thus a buttery and flaky taste and appearance. Much like croissants, but these are much easier to make. It's all made in one go and left to prove, then baked. I felt that there was something missing in this recipe which is why I will try to adapt it a bit and post it when I am happy with it. It's very easy to put together for a weekend breakfast and also freeze well if you should choose to do so. Indian-style Chaat

I love a traditional Channe Chaat (chickpea salad), but this particular day I did not have any chickpeas nor any tomatoes, so I had to improvise. If you have tomatoes, do add it because it really tastes nicey-nice.

1 400g can tinned blackeye beans

3 medium potatoes, cooked and cubed

1 avocado

1/2 red onion, sliced

2 tsp (or to taste) Chaat Masala (should be fairly easy to obtain)

Chilli powder (to taste)

Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Juice of 1 small lemon

A handful of fresh coriander , chopped (optional)

Mix all the ingredients and and season to taste. I love eating this as a simple lunch. It is very easy to prepare, you just have to wait for the potatoes to cook, which can be hard if you are starving. This serves two adults. It can be kept in the fridge to the next day if you are eating alone (cover with clingfilm or else the smell will poison the rest of your fridge!).

Lebanese Pasta Bake with chicken and mushroom w. vegetarian option

We had some leftover roast chicken (as one has) and I wondered (as one does) what to do with it this time. Then I remembered a dish suggested by one of our Lebanese members @ and I decided to make it.

Basically, you make a roux and then add chickenstock and milk powder to make the sauce. Fry some mushrooms and add whichever spice you fancy (I really like thyme and parsley with mushrooms) and then season. Boil some pasta, tagliatelle is good, although this time I had farfalle. When it is al dente, drain and mix with the sauce along with fried mushrooms and shredded cooked chicken. Top with a generous grating of parmesan and bake at 200'C/Gas 6 for 30 minutes. I haven't specified quantities, but it all depends on how much leftover chicken you've got and how many you are cooking for.

I would quite like this as a vegetarian dish too, which I am intending to try. I am thinking.. obviously swap chicken stock for vegetable stock, perhaps griddle or grill some vegetables, such as courgettes, aubergine and peppers (You might have had roast vegetables earlier that you need to use up?) and add a generous amount of mushrooms, and parmesan-style cheese. If you belong to the meat-substitute-quorn-eating group, then you could always try it with chicken-style quorn pieces. Although I think it would taste fab with vegetables.

Some of the pictures in the wrong order.. I will try to upload them reverse to how I intend to post next time.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

My favourite food Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne

I love lasagne, but this is the best version in my opinion. A tomato sauce with a rosemary, thyme and a hint of chilli, a mixture of ricotta and spinach and a cheesy bechamel sauce...and arrest me if you must, I love it topped with cheddar rather than parmesan. Guilty. I just love the way cheddar melts, more than anything. I made this lasagne on Friday. They were all out of Ricotta in my local supermarket, so I made my own. It tasted very nice too, I must admit. I know it's not traditional with bechamel in spinach and ricotta lasagne, but I love it anyway (As you can see, I'm not a purist). Luckily, I made a large portion so I could eat it this evening too while the others ate Tarragon Chicken. Not only that, I can also eat it tomorrow! Good times.
I know it is a little naughty to re-heat spinach, but one makes exceptions. I served it with lots and lots of salad. Yesterday the avocado was still not ripe enough to eat, but today it was, thank God! I find myself slightly in panic if I don't have avocado. But that's another post.
What's your favourite lasagne?

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

I'm still trying to figure out how to make the pictures come where I want them to be, so please bare with me. Also.. I do appologise for the quality, viritually no daylight in grey wintery Northern England to take nice pictures, so I kind of have to move the food where there is a little bit of light. One is also lucky enough to get a glimpse of the bin in the background here.

I love pilaou and recently I made channe pilaou (chickpea pilaou) from black chickpeas. It's only I and little Miss 1 who are keen on this because Master 10 does not care for rice that has been fiddled with (plain boiled thank you) and hubby doesn't jump for joy because 1) there is no meat and 2) meat has been replaced with chickpeas (or beans/veg/etc). But I adore this and can eat a large plateful with salad and mint chutney (fresh mint, fresh coriander, greeen chillies, onion, more salt than you think - mix it in a blender/processor and mix a small amount with natural yoghurt. The rest can be frozen and you can break a piece off whenever you need it and dissolve in yoghurt).

Channe Pilaou
225g basmati rice (ideally soaked for 30 minutes prior to cooking)
1 tin chickpeas (any kind)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, cut into half moons
4 -5 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cm piece of ginger, finely grated
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
5 black peppercorns
5 green cardamoms, bruised
1 black cardamom
1 1/2 tsp Maldon sea salt
Stock powder (such as Marigold) to taste, or salt if you dont wish to use stock powder)

1) Fry onion in oil until it starts to brown
2) Add garlic and ginger and fry for about 30 seconds, making sure the garlic does not burn. Now add the whole spices and fry for a minute.
3) Rinse the tinned chickpeas in water and add them to the pan along with 100 ml water and the Maldon salt and cook until water has evaporated.
4) Now add the drained basmati rice and pour over water so it just covers the rice and chickpeas. Bring it to the boil and turn it down to a simmer and cook for 10- 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it though, you dont want it to stick to the bottom of the pan.
5) When the water has evaporated, turn the heat off and let it cook in it's own steam for 5 -10 minute with the lid on. This will make the rice nice and fluffy.
6) Check seasoning and serve with salad and chutney.

Leftover chicken suggestion:

Yesterday I made a all in one herby chicken dish, which had vegetables and chicken cooked together in the oven with herbs and garlic. It gave us some leftover chicken and I always use leftover chicken for sandwhiches, even if it is in a curry, I pick the chicken pieces out and transform them into something that can go inbetween slices of bread. This time was no exception, but it needed some spicing up.
I'd say this was probably about 250 - 300 g chicken. I added 3 tbsp mayo, 1 tsp Tandoori Masala, pinch of salt, good grinding of pepper, 1/2 tsp chilli pepper flakes and a small handful of fresh coriander. If I was to eat this at once I would have added red onion and tomato, but since this was for hubby's lunch today I didn't want any soggy tomatoes and I thought I'd spare him for raw onion breath at work. The result was really yummy!

Sunday, 6 March 2011


What's better than freshly baked yeasted goods for breakfast? Nothing beats it. The house is filled with the luscious smell of bread and tempts you long before it comes out of the oven, let alone your plate. I'm an enthusiastic baker, both yeast baking and cakes. Bread is being baked in my kitchen more often than some people change socks (it also smells a lot better than such people's socks, by the way).

I prefer home made bread to shop bought bread and the kind that comes in plastic is just dreadful. It is so easy to make bread, I am surprised that it is not more wide-spread than it is. I am not sure why people don't bake their own. Perhaps it is too time-consuming? But.. it is not really. Once you know what to do it's as easy as hoovering your living room, just a lot more fun.

Most of the time I just make it up as I go along, I know how much liquid I need to make a certain loaf size and then I just add whatever flour I fancy. But I do try to follow recipes now and then, just to broaden my horizon as to which combinations you can do, what techniques to use and do expand my list of baking skills to a little more than loaves and buns.

One of those lovely little things you can make are croissants. Mmmmm... delicious. And very dangerous, unless you have really good self control. It takes a bit more time and work than the common loaf, but is totally worth it. I have tried both Rachel Allen's recipe from Bake (good) and the one from Bourke Street Bakery (very very good), the latter requiring a little more work than the former.

Then there is the popular no-knead bread which seems to have plagued the blogging world since it saw daylight a few years a go. I didn't really want to try it at first, it felt like cheating. But I am very glad I decided to give it a go. Now I make it occasionally and it's lovely and rustic.

At the moment I have Rhyley's Granny's honeyed porridge bread in the oven and it smells delicious. Here is the link to her recipe:

I think everyone should have a go at making their own bread at least once. Trust me, you'll be hooked!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Cowboy Stew

This is a dish I remember from my high school years and I was introduced to it by a class mate who had learned it from her mum. I dont cook it very often, to be honest I dont cook the same dishes often but rather I tend to try as many different things as possible to broaden my horizon. Think of all the food still out there to be discovered!! It's a never-ending journey. Luckily. But whenever I do make this stew I really enjoy its comfort and how easy it is to prepare.

What you need is

Beef mince

Red pepper


Garlic (optional.. I am a garlic person, but I have made it without too and it is still as delish)

Baked Beans

Single or Double Cream



Big pinch of stock powder

Brown the mince and when it's done add red pepper and sliced mushrooms and fry until cooked. Add minced garlic (if using) and season. Then you tip in your can of baked beans and add the cream and let it bubble for about 10 - 15 minutes. Check seasoning. I normally serve this with either plain rice, potatoes or mash, with a side salad and sometimes broccoli.

I havent specified any amounts here, just because it depends on the size of your family. For 2 adults, one 10 year old and a baby, I use 300 g mince, 1 pepper, handful of mushrooms, 1 can of baked beans and 150 - 200 ml cream.

It an easy dish, admittingly not very sophisticated or particularly charming, but it is tasty and warms you up on a cold day.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Yet another food blog...

I have resisted starting my own blog for quite a few years now, but it seems like the temptation has got the better of me. I used to be an active blogger but stopped about five years ago. Instead I've browsed other blogs and have obsessively been reading cookbooks. That is, until now.

My favourite cuisines are the Italian (when, when, when am I going to realise I am not Italian?!) and the Indian. Hmmm..and French and Middle Eastern. I do like a good cheese, and not to mention nice crusty bread (carb addiction). And obviously chocolate.

Food and Recipes coming soon...