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Thursday, 29 January 2015

A Taste of Summer

Baby it's cold outside, but the food is so delightful. I know it's freezing and there's been a fair bit of snow around here but these tarts are scrumptious and will make you feel like you're in the med (provided you're heating's turned up!) wherever in the world you are - hi to the people who are reading my blog elsewhere in the world - it's very exciting to see that people in New Zealand, Canada and Germany amongst other places are perusing my blog. What do you think of it?

A few days ago I showed you how to make pesto from scratch. There was a reason for that, other than the fact that it's delectable. I found a recipe in delicious. for pesto tarts that I thought would be perfect for a light lunch with my friends whilst we revised (especially if you serve it with a salad). Alternatively you could make individual ones for an elegant starter at your next dinner party. If you're going to make them individually then you will have left over puff pasty that I suggest you cut into little shapes and top them with something like sundries tomato paste or cheese and serve as canap├ęs so that it's not wasted. One 320g box of ready rolled puff pastry will, with careful fitting, make 14cm circular tartlets (I used a small breakfast bowl as a guide). The way that I'm suggesting you make it should serve 3-4 people as a light meal and makes sure that nothing is wasted.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Don't Say Never Trust A Skinny Cook: Spanish Chicken

How are you all? University classes start up again for me today, and I'm really excited about my modules this semester. One module is called Identity and Power and is about French colonialism, another is named Culture and Conflict, covering first world war poetry, a book by Georges Perec about WW2 and then the war in Algeria makes up the third conflict that we study - it will be really interesting to learn about the world wars from a French perspective as up until now I have only studied in as part of the English GCSE and A level curriculum. My final module (ignoring the compulsory grammar one) is about careers and business management, which will hopefully be interesting and useful in the "real world"! As such meals are being planned in advance again, so there should be no shortage of interesting recipes for the blog, like this one that I'm sharing with you today. My current plan for meals next week involve a "light" katsu curry (see next Monday's Don't Say Never Trust A Skinny Cook), a lentil dish and the old favourite (with a homemade paste), thai green curry.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Can You Ever Find That One Recipe That You Want To Make?

Image from Eat Your Books

So, this is just a quick post because I have discovered (with help from Waitrose Magazine) something extraordinary. There's a website that allows you to list all of your cookbooks and see all of the recipes in them. You can't print the recipe off the site, you have to go to your cookbook shelf but it will tell you which book and in the case of magazines, which edition, and what page number it is. You can search by book, by recipe or by ingredient. It's incredible! The site is called Eat Your Books and it's free for up to 5 books (which isn't much help if you like cooking) but for unlimited access it's 25USD a year, so not too bad. Plus, the Waitrose magazine gave me a voucher code for a three month free trial (you do not have to put your card details in), which I'm going to share with you.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Pesto Take Two

As some of you may remember, I tried and failed to make pesto back in September. Last week I came across another pesto recipe and decided to try it so that I could make pesto and mozzarella tarts. In case it also failed, I bought a jar of ready made sauce! Well, I'm happy to report that this recipe (I think it was from delicious.) works perfectly, though I have changed the amount of parmesan as it was slightly overpowering. This does mean that the ingredients are now terribly easy to remember as they're all the same quantities or by eye.

You'll ideally use a a mini food processor for this but If you were feeling up to it a pestle and mortar should work too, just don't try to overload it. I promise that if you make this you won't regret it, or go back to jars as it only takes the amount of time the 10 minute pasta takes to cook.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Don't Say Never Trust A Skinny Cook: Harissa Chicken With Lemony Veg Couscous

I finished my exams the other day! Now I just have to forget the wordplays I used to remember my translation theorists' ideas (Venuti was interested in the visibility of translators, and Schleiermacher was all about moving the reader to the text and vice versa) as they all very helpfully (other than the poetry translators) matched their theories to their names. Sadly these exams have lead to me just cooking my failsafe recipes, like my easy tomato sauce and the delicious leek and bacon pasta bake (sadly neither with homemade pasta) so I had difficulty in finding time to test a new recipe for this series, until I flicked through the recipes I'd noted from this months foodie magazines and discovered one from Delicious. which uses harissa, a paste that I've been interested in using for a while but didn't know how. I have changed the recipe in places and opted for chicken rather than cod, as it was easier to get hold of in a hurry.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Chicken Yakitori

I'm revising for exams at the moment (french cinema in particular) and feel the need for mouth-watering but easy and healthy meals (Christmas had too much good but fattening food). I originally wanted something veggie to eat last night but then I spotted this recipe on delicious. and thought it looked, well, delicious. My version was for 2 people and actually includes noodle amounts - I just did a 200g pack of udon noodles and it was a bit too much so the recipe has less. Plus, buying a pre-made pack of stir fry vegetables is all well and good if the shop actually has them in stock. Waitrose, however, didn't and I wasn't going elsewhere as it was raining! Instead I made my own and personally, I think it tasted better - 'fresher'. I also used more vegetables than they recommended (which might be why I needed less noodles) because they were vegetables I liked (shock horror to anyone who knows me!). If you do your own mixed veggies then it only takes the time needed for the chicken to marinate, if not less.

If you say that 80g of vegetables are one of your five a day (it is according to the NHS) then my mix counts as just over 2 portions per person, and half a pre-bought mix is just under one and a half potions. Actually, that's quite an easy way to work out if you're eating enough veg - weigh it! I'm never sure if the amount of peas and corn that I cook is enough, so now I'll just make sure there's at least 80g per person when I cook veg.

Chicken Yakitori Recipe
Serves 2
If you don't want to make your own vegetable mix then use at least 225g of a pre-bought pack (more if you want)
Check how long the noodles take before you need them - mine took 9 minutes in boiling water so I started them off before the stir fry

2 medium chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips (see Chicken and Cashew nuts recipe for how)
3tbsp soy sauce
2tbsp honey (the original recipe says clear, and obviously squeeze honey is the easiest to measure but I don't have any so I just used the jar of cloudy honey from my aunt's bees and it worked well )
1tbsp dry sherry
1tbsp sesame oil (it smells so good!)
2tsp cornflour
150g dried udon noodles (I used clear spring ones bought from Waitrose)
Mix of vegetables - either 225g of a preprepared pack or your own mix, I used the below mixture and have suggested substitutions where needed, it totalled about 350g of veg:
  • 1 red pepper (or any colour)
  • 4 chantenay carrots (one small regular carrot also works)
  • 5 baby sweetcorn (regular sweetcorn could be used)
  • handful of sugar snap peas (garden peas, mangetout, okra)
  • handful of beansprouts (can be left out)
  • 4 spring onions
  • the leaves of one pak choi bulb (handful of spinach)
Mix the soy sauce, sherry and honey in a big bowl until the honey has dissolved to form a marinade.
Cut the chicken into long strips and add to the marinade, leave for 15 minutes (or do this before you go to work and leave, covered, in the fridge until you're ready for supper).
Whilst the chicken is marinading, prepare the veg if you're doing your own  - I cut the pepper and pak choi into matchsticks, spring onions, baby corn and sugar snaps into rounds, and I used a peeler to make ribbons of carrots (chantenay carrots are very cute and the perfect length for ribbons but consequently are a bee to peel into strips).
Start cooking the noodles so that they're ready when the vegetables and chicken are cooked.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick wok and add the chicken - keeping the excess marinade separate.
Mix the cornflour into the remaining marinade to make a sort of sauce (the cornflour will make it stick to the chicken etc).
Once the chicken has cooked, add the veg and stir fry for 1 minute.
Pour the cornfloured marinade into the wok and stir for 2-3 minutes until everything is coated in the sauce but the veg is still crunchy.
Drain the noodles and ladle into large bowls, adding the chicken and veg on top.

Almost ready

Monday, 5 January 2015

Don't Say Never Trust A Skinny Cook: Butternut Squash Mac And Cheese

Cheesy but healthy
So, this is the first of my themed posts, Don't Say Never Trust A Skinny Cook, that showcase healthier meals. I'm rarely on a diet as such, because I've learnt that I'm never going to be supermodel skinny, and nor do I want to be, but I do want to be healthy. That comes from eating well and exercising. I have a gym membership that I actually use and I love the idea of eating well 80% of the time and indulging 20%, although it's more 50/50 for me at the moment, but at least I'm trying! Once a week, on a Monday, I will post a healthy recipe for you to try mid-week, it will either involve ingredients that you can pick up in your local shop or that you'll already have at home. Please let me know in the comments what you think of the recipe and if this will help you aim for that 80/20 goal!

Saving space - the pasta and and squash cook in one pan
January is the last time of year that you want to start a diet as it's so cold and gloomy, but it's the time that most of us do. This dish is comfort food turned healthy, I've already posted one recipe about mac and cheese that was a gorgeous cheesy blowout. This recipe has the name but uses butternut squash instead of white sauce and you can tailor the amount of cheese to your tastes (mine probably had more than it should!). It tastes very similar to the unhealthy version though, as it's so creamy. Thanks to the squash it has one of your five a day, and you could serve it with salad to add more. I know the temptation with these sorts of recipes is to add some meat to it but try to resist the temptation - I added pancetta originally and it was too salty and just didn't work with the creamy sauce. If you have to have some then maybe use this as a side dish and cook pork or chicken separately?