Chorizo and Sugar Snap Pea Giant Cous Cous


Chorizo and Sugar Snap Pea Giant Cous Cous (1)

I hope you were all able to enjoy a little sunshine over the weekend.

I’m trying (hubby isn’t aware of this yet) to turn our property into a smallholding. One day, he may come home to find that I’ve purchased a cow. I’m not at that stage yet, but I did spend my weekend tenderly looking after some plants I have grown from seed which I am hoping will reward me with bountiful veggies in a few months.

So, today, I went to the shop to buy ingredients for dinner and was loathe to spend all of that money on food. One red pepper for 79p?? It’s daylight robbery! Still, as I said, I have a couple of months to go before I can start harvesting any crops (providing I don’t accidentally kill all of the plants in the meantime) so I will have to suck it up for the time being.

As the weather has been beautiful today – stunning sunshine – I wanted something light and fairly salad like, so I decided on a cous cous dish. You can eat this hot or cold, though I prefer it hot, and is wonderful for lunch the next day.

This will serve 3-4 and will take no more than 30 minutes to make.

Chorizo and Sugar Snap Pea Giant Cous Cous (2)

Chorizo and Sugar Snap Pea Giant Cous Cous

1 tbsp olive oil

300g giant cous cous

150g chorizo

200g sugar snap peas

1 red pepper

1 small bunch spring onions

75g green olives

100g feta

1. Gently fry the cous cous in the oil in a large pan for a couple of minutes. Tip in 600ml water, and bring to the boil, stirring often. Cook until all of the water has been absorbed (approx 15 minutes), stirring so that it doesn’t stick. When the water has been absorbed, try the cous cous – if it’s still a bit crunchy, add a little more water.

2. Meanwhile, slice the chorizo and place in a frying pan over a medium heat. Fry until golden on both sides, then add the whole sugar snap peas and chopped red pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes.

3. Finely slice the spring onions, and chop the feta into chunks.

4. Finally, mix the cous cous, chorizo mix, spring onions, feta and olives together well. It’s ready!

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Mexican Bean Stew


Mexican Bean Stew (2)

Do you ever have one of those days where you feel a bit tired and sluggish, and like you probably need to pump your body full of good things? Well, this is the most delicious remedy! It’s full of beans, grains and vegetables (and topped with a healthy portion of dairy too – optional of course!).

I didn’t fancy making this dish today. I had a lovely griddled pork chop dish planned, but on getting home from work realised my pork chops were a bit old! However, once I threw this together I was glad I did. It’s full of deep, earthy Mexican flavours and really is the most simple way of injecting good stuff into your diet.

This will serve 3-4 (just increase the amount of beans and chopped tomatoes if you want to serve more) and takes 30 minutes to make.

Mexican Bean Stew (1)

Mexican Bean Stew

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

3 cloves garlic

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 small glass red wine

1 x 400g tin black beans

1 x 400g tin black eyed beans

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

2 yellow peppers

150g quinoa

1 large handful fresh coriander

Soured cream and grated cheddar, to serve

1. Chop the onion and garlic and put in a large saucepan with the olive oil. Sizzle for 2 minutes, then add the paprika, cumin, ground coriander and cinnamon. Stir well, then tip in the red wine. Allow to bubble down.

2. Add the black beand and black eyed beans (with a little of the water from the tins) and chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

3. Add the chopped yellow peppers and quinoa. Add a little water if it’s too thick, and bring to the boil. Let it simmer gently for approximately 10 minutes until the quinoa is cooked.

4. Turn off the heat and stir through the chopped coriander. To serve, top each bowl with a little grated cheese and a dollop of soured cream. Enjoy the health kick!

Smoked Salmon Fillets with Crushed New Potatoes and Mustard Cabbage


Smoked Salmon Fillets with Crushed New Potatooes and Mustard Cabbage (2)

Following on from my post yesterday, when I went on and on about Spring being here and the weather being wonderful, typically today is ice cold. It started off warm, which meant I did not wear appropriate clothing for the deep freeze which came later. Being a Brit is a great burden (so much weather to talk about…)!

Anyway, I wore little shoes with no socks to work, and so by the time I got home I was very cold. Good job, then, that I had this warming Nordic inspired recipe lined up.

Whilst I like sliced smoked salmon, smoked salmon fillets are a different kettle of fish entirely. They are unctuous and luxurious and taste as though you should be eating them with a glass of champagne (hubby did not take the hint and crack a bottle open when I told him this). I bought my smoked salmon fillets, but if you smoke your own then kudos to you.

I used white cabbage in this dish too. Lots of people don’t like cabbage, mainly because it is often overcooked and thrown on the side of the dish as an after thought. But, cook it properly and season it properly (and add double cream) and it will be delicious.

This will serve 2 with leftovers, and will take around 40 minutes to make.

Smoked Salmon Fillets with Crushed New Potatooes and Mustard Cabbage (1)

Smoked Salmon Fillets with Crushed New Potatoes and Mustard Cabbage

2 smoked salmon fillets

1 white cabbage

300ml vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

50ml double cream

2 tsps wholegrain mustard

500g baby new potatoes

1 small handful chives

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Thinly slice the white cabbage and add to a large saucepan. Add the stock and bay leaf, cover and simmer on a low heat for 20-25 minutes, until softened.

3. In another pan, boil some water and add the potatoes. Cook for 15 minutes or until softened.

4. Meanwhile, put the salmon fillets in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

5. To finish the cabbage, stir in the cream and mustard and season to taste.

6. To finish the potatoes, crush gently with a potato masher (you still want big chunks of potato) and stir through the chopped chives.

7. To serve, ladle cabbage and plenty of the cooking broth into bowls, then top with the potatoes and salmon. Yum!

Spring Vegetable Risotto with Feta


Spring Vegetable Risotto with Feta (2)

I don’t know about where you are, but here in Chester it’s been a glorious day – the sun has been shining, the birds have been singing. On coming home from work today, I noticed that my strawberry seeds have finally started to sprout (I was starting to worry I had dud seeds!) and as I sit here typing this I can hear the merry sound of a bumblebee buzzing outside the window. Spring is definitely here!

I always (sadly) get a bit excited when asparagus comes into season – the price plummets and suddenly a new realm of recipes can be made.

I make this particular risotto – using various combinations of veg – probably once a fortnight in spring and summer. It’s a great, tasty way of packing whichever vegetables you choose into your menu. I used asparagus, peas and spinach but you could swap in whatever you like.

Some people might have the misconception that risotto is a heavy, winter dish. This is not true in this case. Simply swap the butter for olive oil and reduce the amount of parmesan you add, and suddenly the risotto is very light and fresh.

This will serve 4 and will take around 45 minutes to make.

Spring Vegetable Risotto with Feta (1)

Spring Vegetable Risotto with Feta

2 tbsps olive oil

1 onion

300g risotto rice

1 small glass white wine

500ml vegetable stock

100g asparagus tips

200g frozen peas

100g spinach

10g grated parmesan

80g feta

1. Chop the onion and add to a large casserole dish with 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Cook gently for a couple of minutes, then stir in the risotto rice. Pour in the white wine and stir.

2. When the wine has mostly been absorbed by the rice, start adding the stock bit by bit, stirring all the time. When you have added all of the stock, the rice should be just slightly al dente – taste it, if it’s too al dente, add some more stock.

3. Roughly chop the asparagus, then add it along with the peas and spinach to the risotto. Stir well until the spinach has wilted, then turn off the heat. Drizzle over the remaining olive oil, sprinkle over the parmesan and put a lid on. Leave it for a couple of minutes.

4. Chop the feta into bitesize pieces, then stir into the risotto. Done!

Pan Fried Duck Breast with White Bean Puree, Leeks, and Spring Onion and Prosecco Sauce


Pan Fried Duck Breast with White Bean Puree, Leeks and Spring Onion and Prosecco Sauce (2)

I’ve been giving myself a bit of a holiday from the blog lately. No particular reason – just lots of things going on!

I’ve still been cooking, but mainly using recipes I’ve already published to make things a bit speedier in the evenings, so I haven’t had anything new to share with you.

Tonight is different though. We’ve been watching Masterchef, which I love although whenever the poor amateurs have to go in a professional kitchen I get a bit panicky. Hubby and I used to play a game when we had time, based on a Masterchef challenge, where you can make any meal using just the ingredients already available in the kitchen. That was great fun.

This weekend, hubby was away most of the time and so I said I would make him something special for tea tonight. When I asked what he wanted, he said ‘your calling card’. This is the first challenge on Masterchef, and it’s supposed to be your signature dish. I don’t really have a signature dish, and I’d never made this one before, but I really enjoyed the process of putting together a more complex, time consuming dish than the ones I normally make.

I soaked the duck breasts in brine (made from salt, water and bay leaves) overnight before starting. I woud recommend you do this if you make the dish – it really helps the meat keep in the moisture.

This will take an hour (not counting the soaking time above) and will serve 2, with leftovers.

Pan Fried Duck Breast with White Bean Puree, Leeks and Spring Onion and Prosecco Sauce (1)

Pan Fried Duck Breast with White Bean Puree, Leeks, and Spring Onion and Prosecco Sauce

2 duck breasts

For the leeks:

4 rashers smoked bacon

2 leeks

10ml double cream

For the puree:

3 cloves garlic

10g butter

2 x 400g tins butter beans

10ml double cream

For the sauce:

20g butter

20g plain flour

6 spring onions

2 large glasses prosecco

1. For the duck breasts, first make your brine. You’ll need approx 20g salt, 200ml water and 4 bay leaves. Mix together in a bowl, then add your duck breasts. Make sure they’re completely covered in the liquid, then cover with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight.

2. For the puree, finely slice the garlic and add to a sauce pan with the butter. Cook gently for a minute, then add the butter beans and water from one tin, and just the butter beans from the other tin. Simmer gently until the beans are soft, then whizz with a food processor. Add the cream and a little water if it’s too thick, then season.

3. For the leeks, chop the bacon into small chunks and cook over a high heat until golden. Lower the heat and add the finely sliced leeks along with 50ml water. Simmer gently for 15 minutes, then add the cream and seasoning.

4. For the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour and spring onions. Take off the heat and stir in the prosecco a little at a time. Put back on the heat and bring up to the boil, stirring all the time. Turn off the heat, then season (you may want to add a little sugar if it’s too tart).

5. For the duck, remove from the brine and rinse under the tap. Dry the fat, then place fat side down in a cold pan. Turn on the heat and cook, fat side down, for 15 minutes. You may need to drain away some of the fat during the cooking. Flip the duck and cook on the meat side for 2 minutes, then remove from the pan and rest for no less than 5 minutes.

6. Done! Serve the sliced duck breast with the leeks and puree, and the sauce poured over the top. Enjoy with a glass of prosecco!

Chicken Katsu Curry


Chicken Katsu Curry (2)

Wagamama serve a dish called Chicken Katsu Curry. I have never actually eaten it, but in theory it sounds wonderful. Crispy, breaded chicken with a flavourful curry sauce and fluffy rice.

As we are trying to save money, rather than head out to try this dish, I thought I’d make my own version at home. It was all guess work really, but it turned out well – hubby declared it ‘restaurant quality’, but he is the biggest fan of chicken in any sort of crispy coating so he is biased.

The chicken and curry sauce worked really well together. It’s not the sort of meal you could have every night, but for a hump day treat, why not give it a go?

Try this recipe, and if you’ve had the Wagamama version you’ll have to let me know if it’s at all similar 🙂

This will serve 2, and takes around 40 minutes to make.

Chicken Katsu Curry (1)

Chicken Katsu Curry

4 tbsps vegetable oil

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp tumeric

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp garam masala

2 tsps curry powder

60g plain flour

400ml coconut milk

2 tbsps tomato puree

2 chicken breasts

2 eggs

100g panko breadcrumbs

250g cooked rice, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.

2. Start by making the curry sauce. Chop the onion, and put in a large saucepan with 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil. Cook gently for 5 minutes, then add the chopped garlic and all of the spices. Stir well. Add 1 tbsp of the plain flour, stir, then add the coconut milk and tomato puree. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt if required.

3. For the chicken, place the breasts between a piece of clingfilm and bash with a rolling pin to squash a little. Take 3 dishes. Pour the remaining flour into the first, break the eggs into the second and beat them, pour the panko breadcrumbs into the third.

4. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan. Coat the chicken breasts first in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. Add to the hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden. Transfer to a baking tray and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes until cooked through.

5. To serve, slice the chicken and serve with the curry sauce poured over the top, and a pile of rice on the side. Enjoy it!

Seared Tuna with Roasted Veggies


Seared Tuna with Roasted Veggies (2)

This is another great dish for the transition period between the colder and warmer weather. I’m craving fresh vegetables, but I’m not yet willing to go for full-on salad.

Today, I woke up full of hope for a warm day when I saw the sun peering through the curtains. I was so hopeful, in fact, that I dressed before checking the weather forecast or sticking a hand out of the window. I regretted this fact when I stepped outside baring my ankles to the world and discovered that it was freezing cold and there was an enormous rain cloud heading right in my direction.

However, I am maintaining hope that the warmer weather will arrive soon, and so I went against my instinct to make a giant pot of chilli or macaroni cheese.

This still a lovely warm meal to fill your belly. The roasted veg is tasty and the addition of baby vine tomatoes helps to freshen it up. Perfect with a juicy tuna steak! One of my greatest joys in life (although I am not sure hubby appreciates it) is sucking the roasted garlic from its skin, something which this dish allows.

This will serve 2 (with extra veggies leftover for a packed lunch) and will take 50 minutes.

Seared Tuna with Roasted Veggies (1)

Seared Tuna with Roasted Veggies

3 tbsps olive oil

2 tuna steaks

300g new potatoes

2 courgettes

2 small vines of tomatoes (Vittoria are good)

4 cloves garlic

A little balsamic vinegar and curly parsley, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.

2. Halve your potatoes (cut larger ones into thirds) then place in a large oven proof dish. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, then place in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, the potatoes should be soft and starting to turn golden. At this point, add your roughly chopped courgettes and put back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Add the vine tomatoes for a final 10 minutes.

3. Close to the end of the cooking time for the veg, drizzle your tuna steaks with the remaining olive oil, and sprinkle with a little salt. Get a griddle pan to a very high heat, then add the steaks. Cook for 2 minutes on each side (they should still be lovely and pink in the middle).

4. To serve, dish up your veg. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over it and sprinkle over some chopped parsley. Serve with your tuna steak on the side. Enjoy!

Chicken Pittas with Spicy Rice


Chicken Pittas with Spicy Rice (1)

Due to a busy weekend and general laziness, this is actually the recipe I cooked on Friday night. However, I’m sure it works just as well on a Tuesday 🙂

When I asked hubby what he would like to eat on Friday, I was given this very specific request “Chicken Pittas with Spicy Rice please”. I have never made such a recipe before, however on delving further realised that this is what he eats whenever we visit a particular popular Portuguese chicken restaurant. I am sure you know the one I’m talking about.

I’d never tried the spicy rice at this restaurant before, and so tried to make it as close as possible to the description I was given by hubby. In the end, it wasn’t spicy in any way whatsoever (but it was delicious) – you could pimp it up with some chilli powder if you wanted to.

This is a great recipe to try when you want a healthier (and cheaper) version of this particular restaurant’s menu!

This will serve up to 4, and will take no more than 30 minutes to make.

Chicken Pittas with Spicy Rice (2)

Chicken Pittas with Spicy Rice

For the pittas:

4 pittas

1 tbsp olive oil

250g diced chicken breast

1 tbsp smoked paprika

100g halloumi

Lettuce, to serve

For the spicy rice:

500g cooked white rice

3 tbsps tomato puree

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp olive oil

3 spring onions

1 red pepper

1. For the spicy rice, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the sliced spring onions and chopped red peppers and soften for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato puree, cook for a further minute then add the rice and enough water to loosen it – 200ml should do. Stir in the smoked paprika and cook until heated through – around 7-9 minutes (stir often so that the bottom doesn’t catch).

2. For the chicken pittas, sprinkle the smoked paprika over the chicken along with some salt and pepper. Heat a griddle pan over a high heat, then add the olive oil. When hot, add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often, until cooked through.

3. To serve, slice the pittas and stuff with chicken, finely sliced halloumi and salad. Serve with the rice on the side. Amazing!

Carrot, Beetroot and Watercress Salad


Carrot, Beetroot and Watercress Salad (1)

March is a month of contrasts, isn’t it? Particularly here in the UK, some days there can be balmy, mild sunshine which shows off the multi-coloured budding flowers and the blossom on the trees. Other days, like today, there can be a miserable, leaden grey sky and a howling icy wind which destroys the buds and blows the blossom away. I, like most people I’m sure, prefer one of these types of day significantly more than the other.

There was one of these rare sunny days recently. It reminded me that in a few short months, my sister and her fiance are getting married. They’re getting married abroad, which means a beach holiday (and the bikini which goes with it), and it was as such a notification that perhaps the time is here to wean ourselves off stodgy winter warmers, and towards lighter, more bikini body friendly meals.

This particular salad is a happy medium. It is served warm, so is nice when the weather is as miserable as it is today (I resembled a drowned rat when I got home), and is packed full of healthy veggies.

It’ll take approximately an hour in total to make, but it’s very low maintenance and the majority of this time is spent sitting on the sofa, drying off next to the fire. This will serve 3-4.

Carrot, Beetroot and Watercress Salad (2)

Carrot, Beetroot and Watercress Salad

500g baby carrots

6 raw beetroot

2 tbsps olive oil

1 tbsp runny honey

2 tbsps lemon juice

250g ready to eat lentils

100g watercress

75g goats cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Trim the ends of the carrots and place in a large baking dish. Cut the top and tail off each beetroot and slice them into wedges (no need to peel). Add these to the dish along with half of the olive oil. Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes, until soft.

3. To make the dressing, mix the remaining olive oil with the honey and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Towards the end of the cooking time, heat your lentils – either on the hob or in the microwave. Place in a large bowl and mix with the watercress and cooked carrots and beetroot.

5. To serve, share out the salad between bowls and top with a few blobs of goats cheese and a drizzle of dressing. Enjoy!

Pan Fried Salmon with Noodle Broth


Pan Fried Salmon with Noodle Broth (1)

I have unfortunately not been well the last few days – hence my absence from the blog – but I am feeling much better today and was ready for something nourishing and delicious to get rid of the last vestiges of my illness.

This is something I always crave when I’m not quite feeling right. The salmon is obviously wonderfully healthy, packed full of protein and healthy oils. The broth contains garlic, ginger, coriander and lemongrass – they also contain lovely, healthy things (I swear by ginger when I’m not well; I’ll chop fresh ginger and have it in a cup of boiling water – try it, it will cure anything). Mix this with noodles and coconut milk and you have a hug in a bowl.

Helpfully, the meal is also ready in 15 minutes, so perfect when you are tired.

This will serve 2, with extra broth left over.

Pan Fried Salmon with Noodle Broth (2)

Pan Fried Salmon with Noodle Broth

2 salmon fillets

2 tbsps olive oil

1 thumb sized piece ginger

2 cloves garlic

1 stick lemongrass

2 tsps tamarind paste

1 small bunch fresh coriander

400ml coconut milk

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp palm sugar

300g straight to wok style or pre-cooked noodles, any type will do

200g sugarsnap peas

Spring onions and peanuts, to serve

1. Start by finely chopping the ginger and garlic, and adding it to a large pan over a medium heat with half of the olive oil.

2. When it starts to sizzle, bruise the lemongrass with a knife and add this to the pan, along with the sliced coriander stalks and tamarind paste. Cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes, then add the coconut milk and the same amount again of water. Add the soy sauce, fish sauce and palm sugar.

3. Bring the broth to a simmer then add the sugarsnap peas and noodles. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, while you cook the salmon.

4. To cook the salmon, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and add the salmon, skin side down. Cook for 5 minutes, until the skin is crisp, then flip over and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

5. Stir the chopped coriander leaves into the broth. To serve, ladle the broth into bowls and top with the salmon. Sprinkle over some chopped spring onion and peanuts. Enjoy!