Stupendous halloumi and veg tandoori kebabs with quinoa pilaf

halloumi veg tandoori kebabs

If you try one new dish this year make it this one, my current favourite recipe.  It is quick and tastes bloody gorgeous!  I ate the kebabs with pilaf, which is traditionally a spiced rice dish, but I made it with quinoa because it is probably the healthiest food on the planet.  Alternatively you could eat them in pitta bread with some salad and yoghurt.  The halloumi and veg need to sit in the tandoori marinade for atleast half an hour before cooking.  You will need approx eight skewers (disposable ones are available from supermarkets).

The recipe is based on one from Anjum Anand’s Indian Cooking Made Easy, which I would highly recommend.  The book makes you realise that it is possible to cook authentic Indian food, it is tailored to suit people buying ingredients from supermarkets in the UK and is packed with useful suggestions and information.  If you want to try another straightforward, gorgeous and authentic recipe click on this link for paneer tikka masala: https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/paneer-tikka-masala-authentic-curry-in-50-mins/.  Otherwise, here is the tandoori kebab and pilaf recipe:

Ingredients (serves 4)

250g halloumi cheese, chopped in to bite sized chunks

1 large onion, cut in to chunks

1 courgette, cut in to chunks

1 red pepper, cut in to chunks

For the marinade

120g cream cheese e.g. philadelphia

Small thumb size piece ginger, very finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed/finely chopped

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp ground cumin

Optional – 1/2 tsp ground cardamom or seeds of 4 cardamom pods, ground in a pestle and mortar

Salt and pepper

For the pilaf

1 tsp cumin seeds

160g quinoa or basmati rice

2 handfuls frozen peas

Large handful parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5.

To make the kebabs, mix all the marinade ingredients together, add the halloumi cheese, onion, red pepper and courgette.  Mix it all up, cover and place in the fridge for atleast half an hour.  Put the marinated halloumi and veg on to skewers, place on a non-stick baking tray and cook in the oven until starting to go golden, approx 20 mins.  Turn 3 or 4 times to prevent burning.

To make the pilaf, fry the cumin seeds in some oil in a saucepan for one minute, then add the rice or quinoa.  Add double the water and the peas, and simmer and stir it until done.  Before serving add the parsley and season with salt and pepper.  Serve the pilaf with the kebabs on top, sliding them off the skewers first if you wish.

Easy, quick, delicious marmalade

easy quick marmalade

Yesterday morning I passed a shop with a sign outside that said ‘Seville oranges in season – make that marmalade’, so I decided to give it a try.  Once I started searching for recipes on google I felt a bit disheartened about how time consuming it seemed, but managed to find an ‘absolutely fail-proof easy marmalade’ recipe, using a blender or food processor.  The ingredients are simply oranges and sugar, it only takes 30 minutes to make and tastes great.  Don’t worry if the orange mixture looks thick and dry once you’ve blended it – as soon as it hits the saucepan and is heated with the sugar it becomes glossy and loosens up.  You could add some finely chopped stem ginger if you fancy.  If you want to give some of the marmalade as a gift then decorating your jars with some pretty fabric and string/ribbon/elastic band makes all the difference (click on this link for a photo of my decorated ginger hot chocolate jars: https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/?s=ginger+hot+chocolate).  Alternatively you can use a kilner jar, which looks quite professional.

Make sure you sterilise your jars (recycled jars are fine) the following way first: ‘Wash them well in hot, soapy water, rinse well with hot, clean water and dry with a clean cloth. Then put the jars in an oven preheated to 140 degrees/Gas Mk 1 for 10 minutes. Put the contents into the warm jars, seal and leave until completely cold’ (from www.nigella.com).

easy quick marmalade

Ingredients (makes approx 5 jars of marmalade and keeps for 6 months)

6 oranges (any type is fine)

1kg sugar

Wash the oranges and remove any blemishes.  Grate the zest of two of them using a cheese grater, and put the zest aside.  Cut each orange (peel and all!) in to eight pieces, removing any visible pips as you go.  Place in a blender/food processor until finely ground.  Boil the orange mixture with the grated orange zest and the sugar in a saucepan, stirring occasionally, for 20 mins.  It splatters, so be careful.

Sterilise the jars as per the instructions above and fill with the marmalade.  Keep in the fridge.

Recipe from the Jerusalem Post

Mexican breakfast with homemade tortilla chips (35 mins)

mexican breakfast homemade tortilla chips

This is my take on ‘huevos rancheros’ or Mexican breakfast, traditionally eaten on rural Mexican farms.  It makes a good hangover cure or a balanced family meal.  The tortilla chips are made from wholemeal tortillas, and give the meal a bit of crunch and fun, as you can put the breakfast on top and then eat it with your hands!  If you love meat, some pre-cooked chopped sausages could be added at the same time as the tomatoes.

Also worth a mention is a new discovery, celery salt (available from supermarkets), which is now one of my *exciting ingredients*.  I discovered it at my mum’s as she uses it lots.  It gives a depth of flavour to all sorts of meals, such as stews, soups, tomato sauces, cauliflower cheese and even to sprinkle over veg/meat before roasting/grilling it.  Here I used it to top the tortilla chips and it worked brilliantly.  For further exciting ingredient ideas check out the category on the right of the blog!

mexican breakfast homemade tortilla chips

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the Mexican breakfast

2 red peppers, chopped

1 large red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed/finely chopped

Pinch dried mixed herbs

Pinch ground chilli (to taste – ignore if your kids will hate it)

2 cans chopped tomatoes

Pinch of celery salt and pepper

Heaped tbsp tomato puree

4 eggs

For the tortilla chips

2 0r 3 tortillas

Oil

Small pinch celery salt

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6.

Cook the peppers, onion, garlic and herbs in some oil until tender, aprox 10 – 15 mins.  Meanwhile, cover each tortilla in oil on both sides then cut each one in to 8 pieces.  Arrange them on to a non-stick baking tray (don’t worry if they overlap a bit) and sprinkle over a little celery salt (remember this is salt so only a little!).  Cook in the oven until brown at the edges.  They will crisp up as they cool.  Set aside.

Add the chilli to the peppers, onion and garlic and cook for one further minute, then add the tomatoes, celery salt, pepper and tomato puree.  Cook for a further 5 mins.  Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish.  Carefully crack over 4 eggs.  Put under the grill until the eggs are cooked but the yoke is still a little runny (don’t worry if you overdo them).  Serve with the tortilla chips.

I have a cold

I have a big cold, have temporarily lost my sense of taste and smell and therefore cannot blog!  This is dull.  I ruined a Sunday roast yesterday by unknowingly saturating it in salt.  So I’d better hold off until I can actually taste what I cook.  Next up is an easy, thrifty Mexican breakfast (that works equally well as a family meal) and then make-ahead mushroom and gruyere souffles (my first attempt at a souffle).  If there is any particular type of recipe you would like me to try, please let me know.  In the meantime I hope your taste buds are working well and…see you soon!

Chestnut chocolate cream biscuits

chestnut chocolate cream biscuits

12 months ago I had barely baked a muffin.  And now look at me!  Seriously though, I am feeling rather smug at having made these impressive looking, tasty biscuits so easily.  Further proof that a lot of baking is very straightforward.  It is the chestnuts in this biscuit that give it an interesting flavour, and you can’t go wrong with chocolate cream.  If you want a plainer and thinner biscuit then leave out the chocolate cream, and perhaps eat them with ice cream as an alternative and much classier wafer.  Or just on their own.  You don’t need to be really specific with the size measurements – just use the photo as a rough idea.  Recipe is by baking guru Dan Lepard.

chestnut chocolate cream biscuits

Ingredients

150g cooked, peeled chestnuts  (I use tinned ones from the supermarket)

175g dark soft brown sugar

200g unsalted butter, softened

225g plain flour

¼ tsp baking powder

100g dark chocolate

50ml double cream

125g icing sugar

Whizz the chestnuts and sugar to a smooth paste in a food processor, then add 150g of butter and purée again. Spoon into a bowl, work in the flour and baking powder evenly, then scrape on to a plastic sheet and chill for 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 150 degrees/gas mark 2. Roll the dough to about 0.75cm thick, then cut out round biscuits about 5cm across using a cookie cutter. Lay these on a baking sheet lined with nonstick baking paper (or a non-stick tray). Bake for approx 35 minutes, and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Melt the chocolate, then set aside until barely warm but still soft. Beat the remaining 50g of butter and cream with the chocolate until smooth, then add the icing sugar and beat again. Spread a good dollop on the base of one biscuit and sandwich another on top.

Kids snack – sweetcorn fritters

sweetcorn fritters kids snack

Whoop!  I’ve found another way to sneak veg in to my 2 year old fussyman.  These sweetcorn fritters are very cheap, only take about 25 minutes to make a batch of approximately seventeen, and can be frozen.  They are the perfect snack size for when you are out and about.  In the future I’ll be trying them with: finely chopped broccoli or red pepper, grated courgette or carrot, and spring onions.  If you want to liven the fritters up you could use paprika, soy sauce, bacon or feta cheese.

Continuing the kids snack theme, I’ll be trying out some healthy kebabs, as kids seem to like ‘lunch on a stick’.  I’ll let you know if it’s a success!  For further kids snack ideas simply click on the ‘kids meals/snacks’ category on the right side of my blog.

sweetcorn fritters kids snack

Ingredients

100g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp dried herbs or small bunch chopped fresh herbs e.g. mint/parsley/coriander

Salt and pepper

1 medium egg

150ml milk

198g can sweetcorn

Put the flour, baking powder, herbs and seasoning into a large bowl.  Make a well in the centre, add a medium egg and gradually beat in 150ml milk to form a smooth batter.  Drain a 198g can sweetcorn kernels, then add to the batter mix with anything else you fancy.  In a frying pan, add a tablespoon of oil. Once hot, fry dessert spoonfuls of the mixture for about 2 mins each side until golden and crisp.

Based on a recipe from www.goodtoknow.co.uk

Creamy fish bake with sweet potato wedges

creamy fish bake

This balanced, creamy fish bake with herby potato wedges will warm you right up.  It should go down well if you’re cooking for friends or having a family meal.  Carrots, onions and fennel would also work as alternative vegetables.  Whatever combination of fish you use, make sure some of it is smoked fish, for extra flavour.  This dish serves four and takes about 25 mins to prepare plus 30 mins cooking.

Ingredients

800g sweet potatoes, cut into wedges

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp mixed herbs

300g leeks, trimmed and sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed or finely chopped

25g pack white sauce mix (or some butter, flour and milk if making your own)

300ml milk

300g frozen peas

100g young leaf spinach

Handful of chopped parsley

320g fish pie mix or mix of fish such as cod/coley/smoked trout or salmon/prawns

40g mature Cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6. Toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and the mixed herbs. Put on a baking tray and bake in the oven for approx 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a pan and cook the leeks for 10 minutes, adding the garlic for the last minute.  Make the sauce with the milk to pack instructions.  If making your own white sauce melt a large knob of butter in a saucepan on a lowish heat, add approx 1 tbsp plain flour until smooth and then gradually add milk and keep stirring until the right consistency.

Pour the sauce into the pan with the leeks, bring to the boil and cook for 2 minutes before adding in the peas, spinach, parsley and fish pie mix. Pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle over the cheese.  Put under a medium grill for 10-15 minutes until golden and bubbling and the fish is cooked through.  Serve with the sweet potato wedges.
Recipe by Sainsburys