Hello, am expecting a baby any day now so the blog may go a little quiet – temporarily! Back soon x
When I saw a lady called Laura had posted a photo of beautiful looking homemade Chinese dumplings on facebook I asked her if she could recommend a simple and authentic Chinese fish dish, and this is what she suggested. You can put pretty much any fish in a tin foil parcel with some spring onions, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and orange juice. Make sure there is a good puddle of liquid in the foil as the fish will soak it up as it steams and you want a little leftover too. I served it with some pak choi, which are crunchy Chinese greens. The resulting dinner was subtle and tasty. You could add some rice or noodles too if you have a big appetite! I have not put exact measurements as think it depends on what you fancy. The following photo does not do the dish justice…
For the fish
Fish fillets (I used trout)
Finely chopped spring onions
Finely chopped ginger
A glug of toasted sesame oil
A glug of soy sauce
Some orange juice
For the pak choi
Toasted sesame oil
Pak choi (available in supermarkets), chopped in to strips
Put individual fillets of fish in a foil parcel together with the spring onions, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and orange juice, and seal. Cook until the fish is soft and flaky, and once done garnish it with some more (uncooked) spring onions. Meanwhile fry the garlic with some sesame oil for 1 minute and add the pak choi until the dark green leafy bits start to wilt but the stem is still crispy (about 4 minutes). Add a decent glug of soy sauce. Serve.
Okay, this recipe contains crisps so maybe posh is the wrong word. And I made it with fusilli rather than macaroni… But it doesn’t matter. It contains some extra ingredients that really liven up the flavour and texture, such as ready salted crisps, anchovies, red onions, hard boiled eggs and cherry tomatoes on top. It’s super easy to make and is a balanced meal.
Red onions are one of my *exciting ingredients* as I think they do a great job of adding crunch, colour and sweetness to certain dishes, such as tuna pasta bake or potato dauphinoise as well as this recipe.
If you’re not a fan of anchovies (also one of my *exciting ingredients*), don’t be scared of using them torn up as a seasoning instead of whole and hairy. They add a salty richness rather than fishiness, and also go well in potato dauphinoise as well as tomato based sauces. Honestly!
1 large red onion, chopped
5 savoy cabbage leaves, chopped
A very large knob of butter
1 – 2 tbsp plain flour
200g cheddar cheese
As much milk as you need
5 anchovies, chopped
Salt and pepper
2 packets of crushed ready salted crisps
8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
First cook the pasta according to the pack instructions. About 5 minutes before it is cooked, add the chopped onions and savoy cabbage to the saucepan. Drain. Hard boil the eggs seperately in boiling water for about 8 minutes and cut each egg in to 12 pieces.
To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in the saucepan then add the flour so it becomes a soft paste. Very gradually add milk until it becomes fairly thick, well combined and easy to stir. Add 3/4 of the cheese, and a little more milk if necessary. Add the anchovies and salt and pepper.
Add the cheese sauce and egg to the pasta, onion and cabbage mixture and stir well. Put it in to a casserole dish, top it with the remaining cheese and crushed crisps and finally the cherry tomato halves. Grill the top until it is golden brown and the tomatoes have softened. Eat!
This is another recipe from the book Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy, based on the brilliant tv series (food and landscape porn, put bluntly). Aubergine is apparently a staple in Sicilian cooking. The simple flavours are lovely – capers, olives, anchovies – and I like the silky texture of the cooked aubergine. I thought the original recipe was lacking a bit of crunch so have added a cheesy/breadcrumb topping (not seen in the above photo as it was an afterthought!). Works well with salad. Serves 4 as a main.
2 aubergines, cut in half lengthways
5 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1 heaped tbsp capers, finely chopped
2 tbsp pitted black olives, finely chopped
5 tbsp breadcrumbs (I blended two pieces of bread)
4 tbsp chopped tomatoes, fresh or tinned
Cheese – grated parmesan or cheddar works well
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees / gas mark 7. Sprinkle a baking tray with olive oil.
Using a spoon, take the inside flesh of the aubergine halves out of the skin, leaving a casing that is approx 1cm thick. Chop the flesh finely. Mix the flesh, anchovies, capers and olives with 3/4 of the breadcrumbs, tomatoes, a large drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper.
Put the aubergine skins on the baking tray and spoon in the stuffing. Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs on top followed by the cheese. Bake for approx 30 minutes.
This savoury Italian style tart is delicious, looks great and is so easy you may feel like a cheat! A lovely summer dish that goes well with salad, as a starter or main. It’s made with shop bought puff pastry which is brilliant for making all sorts of savoury tarts, as you can top it with veg, cheese such as feta, goats cheese or manchego cheese and other ingredients like olives, herbs or pine nuts . More savoury tart recipes to come.
Summer antipasti tart serves 4 – 6 as a main and is from
375g pack ready-rolled puff pastry
3 tbsp green or red pesto
300g cherry tomatoes, halved
150g mixed antipasti (from a jar, such as artichokes, roasted peppers and aubergines), drained. I used artichokes.
150g feta, crumbled
Fresh basil, to serve
Lay the puff pastry on a baking tray. Score a 2.5cm margin around the edge and prick the base with a fork. Top with the pesto, cherry tomatoes, mixed antipasti and feta. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6 for 15-25 minutes. Top with fresh basil to serve.
These snacks – fruit and seed muffins and fruit cereal pots – should be a hit with kids, are full of goodness and contain no sugar apart from what is naturally in the fruit and honey.
Fruit and seed muffins
These muffins (my version of a recipe from www.bbcgoodfood.com) are packed with berries and seeds, so much so that I thought the measurements must be wrong! But they worked and my son Freddy devoured them, thinking he was getting a naughty snack. They are good to make with kids, even tiny ones, as you can put the ingredients seperately in little bowls that they can add to the mixture by hand, spoon or pour them in. They can stir everything together and sloppily fill the muffin cases with a little spoon, then see the difference 25 minutes in the oven makes! You could make your own version using different fresh and dried fruit and nuts. This recipe makes twelve and they can be frozen for up to 1 month.
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
50g melted butter or marge
140g fresh blueberries
60g seed mix
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases. Put the flour and baking powder into a bowl. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then stir in the melted butter, milk and honey. Add to the flour with the remaining ingredients. Combine quickly without overworking (it’s fine if there are some lumps left – you want it gloopy rather than fluid). Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases. Bake for 20-25 minutes until well risen and pale golden on top. When cool, they’ll keep in an airtight tin for two days and in the freezer for a month.
Fruit cereal pots
This is a very simple snack that layers up any fruit, whatever cereal you happen to have (e.g. muesli/fruit and fibre/granola) mixed with seeds, honey and some natural yoghurt. Kids can enjoy chopping the fruit (with a special child plastic knife if need be), spooning in or sprinkling on the ingredients and then squeezing the honey on top (Freddy loves this).
Whatever fruit you have, fresh or canned (skinless fresh or canned peaches/nectarines/apricots are good for little ones who are learning to chop as they are soft)
Cereal mixed with seeds (e.g. pumpkin seeds or mixed seeds)
Top the chopped fruit with the yoghurt, then sprinkle over the cereal mixed with seeds. Drizzle over the honey and eat!
(Photo from www.goodtoknow.co.uk)
More sun is forecast this weekend so I’m making the most of it and made some of these (although I ate one before remembering to take a photo so have used the website image!) I can confirm they are delicious and taste just like a simple strawberry sorbet. There are only four ingredients too so the whole lot cost about £2.50 to make. You can strain the strawberries after you have blended them to remove the pips but I don’t think there is any need. Makes approx 6 lollies and took about 8 hours to freeze, but this must vary according to your freezer. Enjoy the sun!
50g caster sugar
250g strawberries, hulled and cut in half
1 medium orange, squeezed
Put the sugar and water into a saucepan and boil for 3 to 4 minutes until syrupy. Puree the strawberries, combine the strawberry puree, syrup and orange juice then pour the mixture into ice-lolly moulds. Freeze until solid.
Mmmm – baked feta really works! This lovely light dish (from www.uktv.co.uk) is full of fresh flavours and textures that compliment the tang of the feta. It works well as a main meal, or could be downsized as a starter. It would probably work well with goats cheese too. Perfect for a summer evening. Serves 4.
For the feta
3 tomatoes, sliced
4 blocks evenly-sized feta cheese, each about 70g
1 tsp ground or crushed chillies
handful of mint, roughly chopped
For the tabbouleh
Handful each of parsley and mint, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
50g puy lentils, cooked according to packet instructions
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1 lemon, juice only
For the feta, preheat the oven to 170 degrees/gas mark 5. Line a baking tray with a large piece of foil. Lay the tomato slices on the foil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Put the feta on top, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle over the chillies. Put another piece of foil on top and seal the edges to make a parcel. Bake for about 8 minutes if the feta is at room temperature, or about 15 minutes if the feta comes straight from the fridge. Remove and open the parcels then sprinkle over the mint leaves just before serving.
For the tabbouleh, combine the tomatoes, cooked lentils, diced onion, sliced herbs and the spices then season with salt. Dress with lemon juice and olive oil. Serve with the feta and tomatoes on top.
This is a tasty North African dish of subtle spices that my boyfriend agrees is blog worthy! The fish is pressed in to a spice mixture and fried, and the couscous has lots of flavours added to it. It would go nicely with a big dollop of plain yoghurt and/or tomato salad. The original recipe (from bbc.co.uk/food) is with haddock but I went for coley as the cheaper (and more sustainable) option. You may have noticed I like cheaper options..!
The coley turned out great, all succulent and golden on top. This is the first time I have used harissa, a smoky, fiery paste that is used a lot in North African dishes, and apparently goes best with fish, chicken or lamb. You can get it in supermarkets. Here is a link to more harissa recipes
And here is today’s recipe:
For the coley
4 skinless coley fillets
Salt and pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
Pinch dried chilli flakes/ground chilli
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter/marge
For the couscous
1 tbsp harissa paste
500ml fish stock
50ml olive oil
1 tbsp raisons
1 tbsp pine nuts
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 large lemon, juice and zest
For the coley, sprinkle the ground cumin, ground cinnamon, ground coriander, chilli, salt and pepper onto a plate and mix together. Press the fish into the spice mixture, until completely coated on both sides. Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the coated coley fillets for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until crisp and cooked through (the coley is cooked through when the flesh is opaque and flaky).
For the couscous, bring the harissa paste and fish stock to the boil in a pan. Add the couscous and cook for approx 30 seconds until it has absorbed all of the stock, stir then remove from the heat for 5 mins. Fluff the prepared couscous with a fork, then stir in the olive oil, raisins, pine nuts and parsley. Add lemon zest and juice, then stir until well combined.
To serve, divide the couscous equally among four serving plates. Place one piece of Moroccan-style coley on top of each serving of couscous. Drizzle over some olive oil. Serve with some plain yoghurt and/or tomato salad if you wish.
If I had to describe this gratin (originally by Nigel Slater) in one word it would be hearty. I’ve cooked it loads and love it! It’s very nutritious but creamy enough to feel a bit indulgent, and has a lovely crunchy topping.
Serves 4 as main dish.
Two cans of chickpeas
2 tbsp olive/other oil
3 red onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed/chopped
1 tbsp flour
450g ish of spinach
250ml veg or chicken stock
300ml crème fraîche
80g grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese (approx)
A few handfuls of breadcrumbs (I just put 2.5 pieces of bread in a blender)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4. Warm the oil in a pan, then add the onion and garlic. Leave them to cook, with the occasional stir, until they have softened and taken on a little colour, approx 10 mins. Stir in the flour. Add the chickpeas, spinach, stock, crème fraîche, salt and pepper, then simmer for a few minutes. Tip everything into a large baking dish or roasting tin. Strew with the grated cheese and breadcrumbs then cook for 45 minutes or so until a golden crust has formed. If it looks cooked but the top needs to be more crunchy, just pop it under the grill for a couple of minutes!