Welcome to Yet Another Cooking Blog.

As you may have guessed, this is a blog about cooking - in particular my cooking. It has been mentioned to me several times that I seem a little obsessed with food, so I have decided to blog about my menus, my successes, my failures and anything else that springs to mind

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Week 52 dinner menu

Monday - Roast capon, new potatoes and pickles
Tuesday - Crispy beef with chilli, egg fried rice
Wednesday - Roast gammon, leftover capon, mash and pickles
Thursday - Capon curry and rice
Friday - Chicken fajitas with sour cream, guacamole and salsa
Saturday - Raclette
Sunday - Spaghetti amatriciana, garlic bread and salad

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Satans christmas cake

This years recipe has been given to me by a friend, who inherited it from an ex mother in law, who became known as Satan (hence the name of the cake).  This cake should be made at least 8 weeks before it is due to be eaten, so that it has time to mature.


225g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground mixed spice
200g butter
200g dark brown sugar
2 tbsp black treacle
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
4 medium eggs, lightly beaten
800g dried mixed fruit
100g chopped mixed peel
150g glace cherries halved
100g blanched almonds, chopped
3 tbsp brandy

Bottle brandy or whisky


At least one week before you intend to bake the cake, put all of the fruit into a large bowl, and  pour over plenty of brandy or whisky so that the fruit can soak it up.  If you feel it would be too boozy for your taste, you can substitute apple or orange juice (I used mainly calvados, with a little apple juice).  Stir occasionally and top up if it drinks all of the liquid too quickly.

Cooking time : 3-4 hours

Oven gas mark 2/150 deg C

1.  Grease a 20cm round or 18cm square deep cake tin and line the base and sides with a double layer of greaseproof paper.  If you have some brown paper (parcel paper) or corrugated cardboard wrap a layer around the outside of the tin and tie with string (this helps to keep a little of the heat off the edges of the cake)

2.  Sieve together the flour, salt and mixed spice.

3.  In a separate bowl, cream the butter, sugar, treacle, and vanilla essence together until light and fluffy.

4.  Beat the eggs into the wet mix, a little at a time, adding a tbsp of the flour mix with the last amount.

5.  fold in the remaining flour, then the fruit and almonds.

6.  Turn into the prepared cake tin and make a slight hollow in the centre.

7.  Bake in a cool oven for 3-4 hours, testing after 3 hours by inserting a skewer into the middle; if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.

8.  Once cooked remove from the oven and leave in the tin on a rack until cold.

9.  Make a few holes in the top of the cake with a skewer and feed the cake the whisky or brandy.

10.  Wrap well with two layers of greaseproof paper then a layer of foil (making sure the foil doesn't touch the cake at all.

11.  Once a week unwrap the cake and feed it with a little whisky or brandy - 1-2 tbsp is plenty.

12.  A few days before it is due to be eaten, cover with marzipan (I used shop bought).  Leave this to air dry at least 24 hours, then ice with royal icing and decorate.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Week 51 dinner menu

Monday - Roast chicken and all the trimmings
Tuesday - Thai red chicken curry, sticky rice
Wednesday - Jacket potato with cheese and baked beans
Thursday - Salmon, boiled potatoes and peas
Friday - Chilli con carne and rice or flatbreads
Saturday - Party food - antipasti, dates wrapped in bacon, crusty bread and cheese, olives, nuts, crisps, crudite, salmon vol-au-vents
Sunday - Roast rib of beef, yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, honeyed carrots and parsnips, peas, gravy and horseradish mustard
Sunday dessert - Christmas pudding with brandy butter/brandy cream

Monday, 12 December 2011

Week 50 dinner menu

Monday - Beef bourgignon and mash
Tuesday - Thai red chicken curry and rice
Wednesday - Sausages and mash with onion gravy
Thursday - Pasta bolognaise and garlic bread
Friday - Gammon steaks, roasted cauliflower, mash potato and parsley sauce
Saturday - Home made pizza - toppings on the day
Sunday - Roast chicken and all the trimmings

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Week 49 dinner menu

Monday - Chicken fajitas
Tuesday - Stir fried brussel sprouts with pancetta
Wednesday - Indonesian satay platter - Chicken satay, prawn crackers and atjar tjampoer
Thursday - Pasta bolognaise
Friday - Cod, potatoes and carrots
Saturday - Bami goreng
Sunday - Beef bourgignon and mash

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Week 48 dinner menu

Monday - Japanese chicken curry and sticky rice
Tuesday - Spaghetti amatriciana and salad
Wednesday - Meatballs and mash
Thursday - Ham, boiled potatoes, peas and pickles
Friday -  Raclette
Saturday - Roast pork and all the trimmings
Sunday - Sticky ribs, pork fried rice and fried cabbage

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Week 47 dinner menu

Monday - Lamb pitta with salad and chilli
Tuesday - Fish in butter sauce with linguine
Wednesday - Beef keema and naan bread
Thursday - Honey and mustard pork with mash potato
Friday - Grilled salmon with new potatoes and veg
Saturday - Sweet onion lentil stew
Sunday - Roast chicken with all the trimmings

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Week 46 dinner menu

Monday - Spaghetti bolognaise and garlic bread
Tuesday - Bermondsey chicken curry and brown rice
Wednesday - Cottage pie and veg
Thursday - Sausage and mash with onion gravy
Friday -Egg and chips
Saturday - HM pizza - toppings on the day
Sunday - Roast lamb and all the trimmings

Monday, 7 November 2011

Week 45 dinner menu

Monday - Crispy shredded beef with chilli, vegetable fried rice
Tuesday - Lemon and herb crusted chicken, spicy giant couscous with vegetables
Wednesday - Apple topped pork chop with mustard mash and carrots
Thursday - Spaghetti amatriciana with rocket salad
Friday - Beef chilli with potato wedges, flatbreads and salad
Saturday - Thai red chicken curry and sticky rice
Sunday - White fish en papillote (dependent on fish availability) with new potatoes and peas

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Week 44 dinner menu

Monday - Cottage pie and veg
Tuesday - Ham and rocket pizza
Wednesday - Japanese chicken curry and rice
Thursday - Quiche lorraine, mash potato and baked beans
Friday - Prawn and pea risotto with scallops
Saturday - Crispy duck with pancakes and hoisin sauce
Sunday - Roast Beef with all the trimmings

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Week 43 dinner menu

Monday - Japanese chicken curry with sticky rice
Tuesday - Honey and mustard pork with mash and veg
Wednesday - Lamb kofte with pitta and salad
Thursday - Chorizo hash with poached egg
Friday - Fish and chips
Saturday - Jambalaya
Sunday - Chilli chicken ramen soup

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Week 42 dinner menu

Monday - Thai red chicken curry and sticky rice
Tuesday - Poached eggs on toast
Wednesday - Chilli con carne and rice
Thursday - Meatballs, mash and veg
Friday - Chilli chicken ramen soup
Saturday - Seafood linguine with lemon butter, salad
Sunday - Sausage and mash with onion gravy

Monday, 10 October 2011

Week 41 dinner menu

Monday - Gnocchi with pancetta and spinach, rocket and parmesan salad
Tuesday - Meatballs with mash
Wednesday - Chicken chasseur
Thursday -`Lasagne, garlic bread and salad
Friday - Fish pie with broccoli
Saturday - Rack of lamb, crushed new potatoes with redcurrant and red wine sauce
Sunday - Roast chicken and all the trimmings

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Week 40 dinner menu

Monday - Pasta salad (Bart) Jacket potato with spicy pork and beans (Sharon)
Tuesday - Cod with linguine and butter sauce
Wednesday - Chicken curry and rice
Thursday - Chicken kiev, croquettes and peas
Friday - Fish and chips
Saturday - Yaki soba, gyoza
Sunday - French onion soup, Egg and bacon pie, mash and beans

Monday, 26 September 2011

Week 39 dinner menu

Monday - Chilli chicken ramen soup
Tuesday - Steak, mash and carrots
Wednesday - Salmon with orange and pine nut salad
Thursday - Gnocchi with pancetta and spinach
Friday - Bermondsey chicken curry and rice
Saturday - BBQ
Sunday - Roast pork and all the trimmings

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Week 38 dinner menu

Monday - Chicken kiev, croquettes and peas
Tuesday - Spicy chicken pitta and salad
Wednesday - Meatballs, mash and veg
Thursday - Seafood linguine with lemon butter sauce, salad
Friday - Steak and ale pie, mash potato and veg
Saturday - Chilli con carne and rice
Sunday - Raclette

Monday, 12 September 2011

Week 37 dinner menu

Monday - Lamb kofte with pitta and salad
Tuesday - Sausages and mash with onion gravy
Wednesday - Chicken kiev, croquettes and peas
Thursday - Tagliatelle with chilli and bacon
Friday - Chicken fried rice, sticky ribs, hot and sour soup
Saturday - French onion soup, quiche and salad
Sunday - Roast chicken and all the trimmings

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Week 36 dinner menu

Monday - Chicken Yakitori and noodles
Tuesday - Jacket potato with cheese and beans
Wednesday - Cottage pie
Thursday - Seafood linguine with lemon butter
Friday - Steak, sauteed potatoes and salad
Saturday - Ginger and spring onion chicken, sushi rice and pork dumplings
Sunday - Roast game (dependent on what the butcher has available)

Monday, 29 August 2011

Week 35 dinner menu

Monday - Honey and mustard pork with mash and veg
Tuesday - 5 spice pork with stir fried noodles and siu mai
Wednesday - Beef bourgignon and mash
Thursday - Buttered cod with linguine
Friday - Japanese chicken curry and sticky rice
Saturday - Home made pizza
Sunday - Lamb chops, roast potatoes and veg

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Week 34 dinner menu

Monday - Sausage baguette with sweet roasted onion and salad
Tuesday - Lasagne with salad
Wednesday - Salmon, new potatoes and peas. Poffertjes with lemon and sugar
Thursday - Chicken kiev, croquettes and veg
Friday - Chilli beef ramen soup
Saturday - Hamburger and chips
Sunday - Roast chicken with all the trimmings

Monday, 15 August 2011

Week 33 dinner menu

Monday - Roast lamb and all the trimmings
Tuesday - Lamb kebabs with chilli and salad
Wednesday - Sticky chicken, jacket potatoes with sour cream, corn on the cob
Thursday - Pasta bolognaise with home made garlic bread
Friday - Chicken curry with rice and naan bread
Saturday - Char siu pork with vegetable noodles and dumplings
Sunday - Venison casserole with mash potato

Monday, 8 August 2011

Week 32 dinner menu

Monday - Japanese chicken curry and rice, steamed dumplings
Tuesday - Shepherds pie and veg
Wednesday - Chicken kebabs with pitta and salad
Thursday - Lemon butter prawns with tagliatelle
Friday - Chilli con carne with sauteed potatoes
Saturday - Home made pizza
Sunday - Beef stew and dumplings

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Chicken Biryani

This recipe was given to me by one of my Chennai colleagues after she asked her mum to write out how she made her biryani.  I've had this recipe for quite a while, and keep forgetting to put it on the plan for dinner, but I finally got round to it today.

As I haven't made it before, I thought I would add a few more photos than usual


5-6 tbsp cooking oil (I used sunflower oil)
2 tbsp ghee (use butter if you don't have ghee)
Spices - 2 bayleaf, 2 cloves, 2 pieces cinnamon and 6 black peppercorns
2-3 large onions sliced lengthways
1-2 green chillis sliced lengthways (I used red as that was all I had)
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
4-5 medium tomatoes chopped
2 tsp chilli powder
Pinch turmeric
2 tsp salt (I only used one, I don't like too much salt)
5-6 tbsp plain yoghurt
Handful mint leaves, chopped
Handful coriander leaves, chopped
450g chicken, bone in (I used chicken thighs)
300g basmati rice soaked for 30 minutes and rinsed in cold water


In this case it was easier to prep everything in advance, rather than my usual of prepping as I go along.  The photos below are of the ingredients (except the chicken)

1.  In an open wide bottomed pan add 5-6 tbsp oil and the ghee on a medium heat

2.  Once the oil is hot, add the whole spices and bayleaves and cook for a few seconds

3.  Add the onions and fry until translucent

4.  Add the chillis and ginger garlic paste, and fry for a few seconds

5.  Add tomatoes, salt, chilli powder and turmeric powder, stirring everything together.  Cover and cook until the tomatoes have cooked down

6.  Add the chicken, yoghurt, mint leaves, coriander leaves and 450ml warm water to the pan (the water is for the rice to cook in later).  Stir well, reduce to a simmer and cover

7.  When the chicken is almost cooked, add the rice to the pan, stir it through, then place a piece of foil over the top of the pan before replacing the lid to seal the steam in and cook for approximately 10-12 minutes until the rice is cooked

8.  To serve, garnish with fried onions and coriander leaves, and serve with an onion raita if you like

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Week 31 dinner menu

Monday - Freezer surprise
Tuesday - Spaghetti amatriciana and onion bread
Wednesday - Meatballs, mash and veg
Thursday - Gnocchi with pancetta and spinach, rocket salad
Friday - Jacket potato with cheese and beans
Saturday - Chicken biryani
Sunday - Roast chicken with all the trimmings

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Week 30 dinner menu

Monday - Spaghetti amatriciana and onion bread
Tuesday - Chilli con carne and rice
Wednesday - Chicken kiev, croquettes and peas
Thursday - Hamburgers
Friday - Paprika chicken, new potatoes and salad
Saturday - Japanese beef curry, sticky rice and gyoza
Sunday - Roast pork and all the trimmings

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Honey and walnut bread

The recipe for this came from the River Cottage handbook no 3 - Bread.

As this bread doesn't use yeast (it is a type of soda bread) it is very quick to make, as it needs no proving.

The recipe book suggests it would work very well with Stilton and pear.

Week 29 dinner menu

Monday - macaroni cheese with leeks
Tuesday - Mince and mash
Wednesday - Chicken curry and rice
Thursday - Prawn and pea risotto (Bart)/Jacket potato with cheese and beans (Shaz)
Friday - Beef ramen soup with pak choi
Saturday - Chicken fajitas with salad, salsa and cheese
Sunday - Pork chop with mash and apple sauce

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Salmon salad with orange and pine nuts

This is a very simple supper, but tasty.

Ingredients (2 people)

2 skinless and boneless salmon fillets
Rocket, watercress and baby spinach leaves
1 large orange
Pine nuts
Olive oil
White wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

1.  Put a little olive oil into a frying pan, and quickly toast the pine nuts.  Once they have cooked put into a bowl to cool.

2.  Heat a little extra oil at a medium heat, and seasaon and then put your salmon fillets into the pan.  At a medium heat they will take 2-3 minutes per side to cook.

3.  Whilst they are cooking, cut the orange into quarters, putting 1 quarter aside.  For the other pieces cut the orange flesh out of the skin and pith and cut into bite size pieces.

4.  Squeeze the juice of the remaining orange quarter into a jar, add 2/3 olive to 1/3 white wine vinegar/orange juice and mix well.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

5.  Wash and then arrange your salad on the plate.  Dress with the orange pieces and the pine nuts, then rest the cooked salmon on top.

6.  Dress with the salad dressing across the salmon and the salad and serve.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Week 28 dinner menu

Monday - Lamb kebabs with salad and chilli sauce
Tuesday - Crispy beef with chilli and fried rice
Wednesday - Chicken kiev, croquettes and peas
Thursday - Salmon with orange and pinenut salad
Friday - Chicken bermondsey curry with brown rice
Saturday - Home made pizza with ham and rocket and tiramisu
Sunday - Sticky lemon chicken with champ

Indulgent dark chocolate brownies

Mary Berry's baking bible was my inspiration this weekend, as I had never made my own brownies before.  They are delightfully gooey in the middle with a lovely crunch on top

Just to mention, I didn't lose a bit in the tin, the missing bits are the parts I obviously had to test while it was still warm to make sure it was cooked!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Week 27 dinner menu

Monday - Japanese chicken curry and sticky rice
Tuesday - Fish pie and leeks
Wednesday - Grilled salmon, boiled potatoes and peas
Thursday - Chilli con carne and rice
Friday - Jacket potato with chilli/potato salad
Saturday - French onion soup, quiche lorraine with chips and salad
Sunday - Roast lamb with all the trimmings

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Balsamic onion focaccia

Today I decided to bake some bread that didn't involve the breadmaker.  I'm a big fan of onions, so decided to go for a balsamic onion focaccia - perfect for dipping in olive oil and vinegar.

The focaccia recipe is from the Mary Berry baking bible, using semolina as well as strong bread flour.  The onions are cooked slowly, with balsamic vinegar added a few minutes before the end of the cooking time.

First proving -

The cooked onions -

Put together and ready for second proving -

25 minutes after the second proving -

Sunday, 26 June 2011


I've wanted to make madeleines for a while, but have never done so because of the need for a special tin.  One of the baking magazines that is available at the moment was selling with a silicon madeleine mould, so I bought it to give it a try.

I have used Mary Berry's recipe, slightly adapted to use orange zest rather than lemon zest.

Week 26 dinner menu

Monday - Freezer surprise
Tuesday - Honey and mustard pork with roasted new potatoes and salad
Wednesday - Meatballs, mash and apple sauce
Thursday - Omelette and salad
Friday - Steak and chips
Saturday - Stir fried chicken and noodles with dim sum
Sunday - Roast duck, rosti potatoes and creamed cabbage with bacon

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Week 25 dinner menu

Monday - Chicken chasseur and potatoes
Tuesday - Freezer surprise
Wednesday - Pasta salad
Thursday - Lasagne, garlic bread and salad
Friday - Ginger and spring onion chicken, rice noodles, spring rolls and chinese dumplings
Saturday - BBQ (if weather good) or steak and chips
Sunday - Rack of lamb, new potatoes, red wine jus

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Week 24 dinner menu

Monday - Prawn and pea risotto with scallops
Tuesday - Chilli with a jacket potato and salad
Wednesday - Chicken curry (pasta salad for Bart)
Thursday - Toad in the hole, mash and veg
Friday - Ras el hanout chicken
Saturday - Roast chicken and salad
Sunday - 5 spice pork with fried rice and dim sum

Coffee and walnut traybake

Baking sunday again, so today was a cake from Mary Berry's Baking bible.  I decided on a traybake because the regualr version required sandwich tins, which I don't have any of.

This cake is extremely light, and very tasty.  I can definitely see myself making it again.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Week 23 dinner menu

Monday - beef stew and dumplings
Tuesday - Buttered fish with linguine
Wednesday - Chicken curry and rice (Rice salad for my husband)
Thursday - Lasagne and salad
Friday - Chicken chilli men and dim sum
Saturday - Selection of Tapas
Sunday - Hachee with mustard mash and carrots, bitterkoekjesvla

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Week 22 dinner menu

Monday - Chicken Madras, brown rice and naan bread
Tuesday - Meatballs in tomato sauce with spaghetti
Wednesday - Honey mustard pork, mash and veg
Thursday - Chilli beef ramen
Friday - Double egg and chips
Saturday - Steak and mash
Sunday - Jacket potato with cheese and coleslaw

Monday, 23 May 2011

Chocolate lime cheesecake and cola cupcakes

Did some baking yesterday, 2 things to make up with not having made anything for 2 weeks (boiled fruit cake lasts for a very long time!!).  Both the recipes were from the Hummingbird Cake days book again.  The first was a lime and chocolate cheesecake - I only used 1/3 of the ingredients suggested as I was only making for my husband and me to eat for dessert.

The next thing that I made was cola cupcakes.  I wouldn't normally make something like this, as it requires soda stream syrup, and not having a machine buying a full size bottle would be expensive for something used so infrequently, but currently there are tester packs availalble with 7 small portions of syrup, 1 of which is enough to make one full batch of cupcakes according to the recipe.  

I have found ther is always too much frosting with these recipes, so I halved the ingredients for the frosting, and still had plenty to frost 12 cupcakes.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Week 21 dinner menu

Monday - Sausage casserole, mash and leeks
Tuesday - Hoisin lamb with moodles
Wednesday - Chicken kievs, croquettes and peas
Thursday - Prawn and pea risotto
Friday - Mince and mash
Saturday - Pork fried rice
Sunday - Roast chicken, rosemary potatoes and salad

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Week 20 dinner menu

Monday - Sausage casserole with mash and greens
Tuesday - Japanese chicken curry and sticky rice
Wednesday - Fishcakes and beans
Thursday - Buttered fish and linguine
Friday - Ham and rocket pizza
Saturday - Spicy chicken wings, home made hamburgers with spicy wedges and salad, and cheesecake
Sunday - Roast pork and all the trimmings

Monday, 9 May 2011

Week 19 dinner menu

Monday - Mince and mashed potato
Tuesday - Chicken kiev, croquettes and sweetcorn
Wednesday - Chilli con carne and rice
Thursday - Gnocchi with pancetta and spinach
Friday - Chicken curry and rice
Saturday - Fishfingers and chips with beans
Sunday - Roast chicken and all the trimmings

3 course meal with duck

Its not very often that I cook a full 3 course meal, and wanted to do something lovely for my husband before he goes away for work for 2 weeks.  Partly because it was a surprise, but mainly because I'm very much a 'think about it at the last minute' kind of person when it comes to my meal planning, I decided on the final menu on the day of the meal.

Starter - Scallops on crispy black pudding with crushed minted peas
Main - Duck in honey and clove sauce, with rosti potato and creamed cabbage with bacon
Dessert - Apple strudel tart with cinnamon cream

Scallops on crispy black pudding with crushed minted peas


3 scallops per person
1 large slice of black pudding per person
Approx 1 tbsp petit pois per person (I prefer frozen for the flavour)
2 tsp mint sauce
Sunflower or other tasteless oil
Large knob of butter

1.  Put water on to boil, add the mint sauce and cook the peas for a minute or two depending on the size of the peas
2.  Whilst the peas are cooking, put a little oil into a frying pan, and when hot put the black pudding in.  Cook for approx. 3-4 minutes per side
3.  When the first side of the black pudding has cooked, put the knob of butter into a separate frying pan and heat.
4.  When it has foamed, put the scallops in, in the order of a clock face (this to make it easy for turning in the correct order).
5.  Leave the scallops for approx 2 minutes (depending on the thickness) to cook halfway through, and for the side to caramelise, and then turn in the order they were placed in the pan.
6.  Once the black pudding has cooked, drain on kitchen towel to remove the excess grease.
7.  Lightly break the peas with a masher or fork, taste, season and add extra mint sauce if required.
8.  Put the black pudding on the plate, put the peas on top, and then put the scallops on.

Duck in honey and clove sauce with potato rosti and creamed cabbage with bacon

This was my first time cooking duck (why did I wait so long!!) so I used a recipe.  I knew what sort of flavours I wanted, and eventually found this recipe from Ainsley Harriott which I used.  The sauce is delicious, and my husband really loved the creamed cabbage.  I used turkey bacon to make it (as it was open) and it went very well with the cabbage and onion.

Apple strudel tart with cinnamon cream

For dessert I wanted something light (especially as we don't normally eat 3 courses) so decided on a filo tart.  I will be honest from the start here, and say that I had no intention of making filo pastry, so it is very much shop bought.

This recipe needs individule tartlet tins.  Due to how delicate filo pastry is, I would advise getting tins with the removable base.

Ingredients (4 tarts)

1 large Bramley apple
Small handful of sultanas
Juice of 1 lemon
Demerera sugar
Melted butter (approx. 25g)
2 sheets filo pastry
1/2 tsp cinnamon plus extra for dusting
Double cream

1.  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (180 degrees fan assisted).
2.  Cut the pastry into squares a little larger than the size of the tins.
3.  Brush the tin with melted butter, then little put in the first piece of filo pastry.
4.  Brush lightly with melted butter, then lay another piece of filo in at 45 degrees to the first one.  Do this until all the pastry is used between all the tins.
5.  Peel, core and chop the apple, and add the lemon juice, cinnamon, sultanas and sugar, then mix together.
6.  In a heavy based pan heat to a medium heat and add the apple mix.  Heat through, stirring occasionally so that the sugar melts and the apple softens slightly.  If any of the melted butter is left, it can be poured over the mix.
7.  Once the apple has softened slightly put into the tart cases and then put into the oven for about 5-8 minutes (depending on how many layers of pastry you have) to cook the tart case through.
8. Whilst the tarts are cooking, whip the double cream and then put onto the plate.  Dust with a little cinnamon.
9.  When the tarts are ready, carefully remove from the tin and serve immediately.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Week 18 dinner menu

Monday - Japanese chicken curry and sticky rice
Tuesday - Scallop, prawn and pea risotto
Wednesday - Mince and mash
Thursday - Lasagne, garlic bread and salad
Friday - Stir fry chicken with garlic and ginger
Saturday - 3 course meal - surprise for the husband
Sunday - attending a wedding

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Lemon and thyme loaf

Being Sunday, it was baking day!  I decided to not go down the cupcake route, and instead bake a loaf cake.

Today it is the Hummingbird Lemon and Thyme loaf.  Pretty easy to make, not as easy to turn out of the tin if you forget to butter the tin like I did.  This meant that this lovely light cake broke as I was shaking the tin to try and get it to drop.  On the plus side, this meant that I had an excuse to eat the warm bits of cake I pulled out of the tin, whilst the rest of the loaf cooled.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Chocolate macaroons

This was my first ever attempt at making macaroons.  I can't say they were the lightest macaroon ever, but they did the job - a bit size nibble of chocolate and nutella.

I used this recipe - but mine don't look like theirs!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Week 17 dinner menu

Monday - Fish pie, leeks and carrots
Tuesday - Lamb kebabs and salad
Wednesday - Pork chop, mash potato and peas
Thursday - Lasagne, garlic bread and sald
Friday - Chicken fajitas
Saturday - Chinese feast
Sunday - Roast chicken and all the trimmings

Apple streusel cake

Yep - yet another cake from the humminbird Cake days book.  If you like cake, and you like apple crumble, then this is the cake for you.  Its cake with apple crumble on top!  Eat it hot, cold, with a cup of tea, covered in custard, all will work well.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Week 16 dinner menu

Monday - Chicken madras, rice and naan bread
Tuesday - Sticky pork ribs, potato salad and leaf salad
Wednesday - Grilled salmon, potatoes and peas
Thursday - Slow cooked chilli con carne and rice
Friday - Fishcakes, chips and beans
Saturday - Home made hamburgers, jacket potato and salad
Sun - Roast with all the trimmings (joint to be decided)

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Chocolate guinness cake

Today was another baking day, and again the recipe has come from the caked days book.  It was rather strange opening a can of guinness at 9 in the morning, but I overcame it to conquer the cake making.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Tuna and broccoli onigiri

I thought I would show how I make onigiri.  Onigiri are Japanese rice balls, often eaten as a snack, or with a bento lunch.  These ones have been made mainly for my daughter, but as I made so much rice, I thought I would do some adult sized ones as well.

Onigiri are traditionally triangular in shape, and it is MUCH easier if you have a mould.  You can shape them by hand however.

Tuna and broccoli onigiri

Ingredients (for 5 large and 8 small onigiri)

2 cups (not mugs) of sushi rice
3 cups of water
1 tsp bonito flakes (optional if for babies)
1 small tin of tuna in springwater (the individual portion size)
5 pieces of broccoli, cooked al dente and finely chopped
1 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp salt (reduce if for babies)
1 tsp caster sugar
wasabe coated sesame seeds (optional)

1.  Wash the sushi rice thoroughly until the water is clear.  This may take 4 or 5 rinses.
2.  In a saucepan with a lid, put the rice, the bonito flakes and the cold water and put the lid on firmly.
3.  Put on the heat.  As soon as it comes to the boil, reduce to a simmer and time for 10 minutes.  Do not take off the lid at any time.
4.  Once the 10 minutes are up, turn the heat off, and leave the rice in the saucepan with the lid on for a further 10 minutes.  This will fluff up the grains in the residual steam.
5.  whilst the rice is resting, in a small pan, put the mirin, rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt (if using) and heat softly to dissolve the sugar.  This is your sushi vinegar mix.
6.  Once the rice has finished resting, put into a wide based dish.  Sprinkle some of the sushi vinegar mix whilst turning the rice with a spatula.  Be careful not to squash the rice, you do not want it turning into sticky mush.  Keep working the rice until all of the grains are coated in the sushi vinegar, and the rice is only luke warm.
7.  Keep turning, whilst mixing in the tuna and broccoli until it is thoroughly mixed.

8.  If you have a mould, fill to approx 3/4 full, then put the top on and press.  Turn out onto greaseproof paper or a cake paper case.  If you don't have a mould, take a small handful, and shape between your two hands in your palms.

9.  If you are coating with sesame seeds, pour the seeds on a plate, and rest each side of the onigiri in the sesame seeds (they will easily stick).

They are now ready to be enjoyed!

There are many other ways of making onigiri, with a pickled plum in the middle, seaweed on the edges, spicy, plain, they are only limited by your imagination.

I hope you like them

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Leftover mashed potato

I am a fan of mash potato.  A big fan.  Occasionally, we even have a bit leftover at the end of a mash meal.  There are many ways to make use of the leftover potato, of which here is a list of the ones I can think of right now :

  • Bubble and squeek (leftover mash potato and vegetables fried together)
  • Shepherds/cottage pie (use that left over mash to make the topping for your next meal)
  • Fishcakes (any flaky fish mixed with the mash, coated with beaten egg and breadcrumbs)
  • Piped into the shape of choice and then grilled or roasted until crispy
  • Croquettes (rolled into a sausage shape, coated in beaten egg and breadcrumbs)
Today I'm going to focus on croquettes.  In the UK potato croquettes are reasonably well known.  In Spain and Belgium they often have additions in the filling such as cheese, prawns or chicken.  In the Netherlands croquettes tend to be filled with a meat ragu.

The ones I have made today are rather plain, as they have been made for my 7 month old daughter - tuna croquettes.

Tuna croquettes


As much leftover mash as you have (if for a baby without any salt in)
A tin of tuna in springwater (again avoid brine if for a baby) - you are aiming for approx 1/4 to 1/3 of the total volume to be tuna
Black pepper
Finely chopped spring onion
Finely chopped red chilli (optional)
1 egg beaten
Breadcrumbs ( I process any stale home made bread I have left and keep in a jar)
Sunflower or other tasteless oil for frying

1.  Preheat the oven to 180 deg C
2.  In a large bowl combine your mash, tuna, pepper, spring onions and chilli if using.  Add salt to taste if for adults.
3.  in a small bowl beat the egg, and put a layer of breadcrumbs on a plate.
4.  Take a small amount of the mix and form into a sausage shape.  Not too long, and it is worth working it in your hands first so that it binds well together.
5.  Coat the croquette in the egg and then cover in breadcrumbs.
6.  Lay onto a baking tray and repeat with the rest of the mix.
7.  In a shallow frying pan put the oil and put onto a medium hot heat
8.  Lightly fry the croquettes in batches just to seal them and to get a golden colour to the breadcrumbs.  The aim is not to cook them through at this stage.
9.  Ones they have all been sealed and browned, put back onto the baking tray and put into the oven for 15-20 minutes until cooked through.

Serve with sweet chilli dipping sauce or tomato sauce and a salad

Croquettes waiting to be fried

Hope you enjoy these as much as my daughter does

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Week 15 dinner menu

Monday - Lamb chops, new potatoes and peas
Tuesday - Jacket potato with cheese, coleslaw and salad
Wednesday - Chinese baked beans and rice
Thursday - Chicken madras and rice
Friday - Scallop, prawn and pea risotto
Saturday - Steak and mash
Sunday - Yaki udon and gyoza

Chilli muffins and red velvet cupcakes

Had another baking day today, so grabbed the Hummingbird cookbook and got to work.  First of all the savoury - I'm not a fan of savoury cakes, but my husband is willing to try (nearly) anything.    The first batch was a cheese, sweetcorn and chilli muffin.

They were made according to the recipe - verdict from Bart?  They need a little something extra, maybe salt.  The recipe only asks for 1/8th of a teaspoon, so next time I will try a little more and see if it helps.

Next was the sweet.  Here I chose the red velvet cupcakes - what seems to be Hummingbirds signature cupcake.  It was the first time I had used soda bicarb and vinegar as the raising agent, but they came out very well if I do say so myself!

Verdict?  The recipe makes too much frosting, and the frosting is a bit too sweet for my taste, so will attempt to reduce this next time.  The cake itself is lovely and light - and very very red.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Week 14 dinner menu

Monday - Chicken and leek risotto
Tuesday - Freezer surprise
Wednesday - Honey and mustard pork chops, potato croquettes and beans
Thursday - Linguine with buttered fish
Friday - Yaki Udon and gyoza
Saturday - French onion soup, quiche lorraine and salad
Sunday - Meatballs, mash potato and veg

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Tiramisu cupcakes

A week ago I treated myself to a lovely Dualit hand mixer and a new cook book - the Hummingbird Cake Days book.  As its mothers day, and I get to do what I like I decided to do some baking.  The very first recipe in the book is a variation on one of my favorite desserts - Tiramisu - so today I have made Tiramisu cupcakes.

They are definitely a treat, with the amount of cream, sugar and mascarpone in them!

For a special occasion treat these are very worthwhile.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Week 13 dinner menu

Monday - Chicken curry, brown rice and naan bread
Tuesday - Mince and mash
Wednesday - Fish pasta and salad
Thursday - Beef and barley stew with mashed potato
Friday - Chicken Yaki Udon and gyoza
Saturday - Lamb kebabs, pitta and salad
Sunday - Roast duck with all the trimmings

Cake baking - ricotta, apricot and almond cake

I'm not good at baking, I am happy to admit that.  But I am good at eating it!  I'm usually just a little bit disappointed by supermarket cakes (except for cadbury chocolate mini rolls - I can inhale those), so I thought I would bake a cake myself.

Now, there is no way that I can invent my own recipe, so I had a look through my cook books, and got out the Good food 101 slow cooking recipes, which has a couple of tasty cakes in it.  Having treated myself to a new hand food mixer, of course I had to make use of it, so I made a ricotta, apricot and almond cake.  Takes 90 minutes to bake, and is obviously good for you, as real apricots are involved :)

I couldn't find the recipe on the good food website, so if you want to try the cake yourself, you either have to pop round for a cup of tea and a slice of cake (while stocks last) or buy the cook book :)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


Sorry for the lack of recipe updates recently, my daughter has started nursery, and bringing all of the bugs home with her, so she is like a plague carrier, passing it all to me!  Having not been around children for many years, I have alot of bugs to get immune to.

Hopefully normal service will be resumed shortly.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Week 12 dinner menu

Monday - Japanese chicken curry and rice, gyoza
Tuesday - Leftover curry and rice
Wednesday - Freezer surprise
Thursday - Chilli con carne and rice
Friday - Home made fish and chips
Saturday - Scallops with pea puree, coq au vin, tart tatin
Sunday - Roast chicken and all the trimmings

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Week 11 dinner menu

Monday - Steak and mash
Tuesday  - Fried gnocchi with shallots, pancetta and spinach
Wednesday - Sausages and mash
Thursday - Lasagne, garlic bread and salad
Friday - Chinese feast
Saturday - four cheese and ham ravioli in tomato sauce, pork chops with honey and mustard glaze and mash
Sunday - roast lamb and all the trimmings

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Week 10 dinner menu

Monday - Early pancake day
Tuesday - Steak, mash and carrots
Wednesday - Freezer surprise
Thursday - Chicken chasseur, slow cooker rice pudding
Friday - Sticky belly pork, spicy potato wedges and salad
Saturday - Chinese feast
Sunday - Roast lamb with all the trimmings

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Week 9 dinner menu

Monday - Pork fried rice, sui mai
Tuesday - Fish cakes, croquettes and veg
Wednesday - Sausages, mash and baked beans
Thursday - Pasta and ragu/pasta salad, garlic bread
Friday - Freezer surprise
Saturday - Rack of lamb, baby new potatoes and peas with a red wine sauce
Sunday - Chicken curry and rice

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Tapas night

Thursday night was supposed to be a curry night, but I was in the mood for something a little closer to home, so it became a tapas night.

Served was -

Cheats patatas bravas
Garlic butter prawns
Paella (made by my husband as that is a mans job)
Chorizo in red wine
Stuffed red peppers

Cheats patatas bravas


New potatoes
Tub of tomato salsa
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1.  Heat the oven to 180 degrees C

2.  Chop the potatoes into large chunks,season  and drizzle with olive oil

3.  Roast for 30-40 minutes turning occasionally until soft through and crunchy on the outside

4.  Serve in a bowl with the salsa poured over the top

Garlic butter prawns


Cooked and peeled Prawns
Chopped garlic

1.  Put all of the ingredients into a dish and put into the oven for the last 15 minutes of the cooking time of the potatoes

Stuffed red peppers


Red peppers
Lemon and coriander couscous
Sundried tomatoes
Mozarella cheese
Olive oil

1.  Cut the peppers in half and remove the core and seeds

2.  Drizzle with olive oil

3.  Make the couscous according to the instructions on the packet

4.  Chop the sundried tomatoes and add to the couscous

5.  Spoon the couscous into the peppers

6.  Tope with a slice of mozarella cheese

7.  Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until the peppers are soft

Chorizo in red wine


Cooking chorizo
Red wine

1.  Chop the chorizo into bite size pieces

2.  Put into a bowl and add enough red wine to cover the chorizo

3.  Put in the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes

4.  If the wine is still thin, pour into a saute pan and reduce until slightly thickened then pour back over the chorizo

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Chorizo hash with poached egg

This is a very simple tasty dish perfect for a quick midweek supper.

Ingredient (for 2 people)

2 cooking chorizo sausage (the ones the size of a regular pork sausage) chopped
New potatoes
1/2 large onion
Olive oil
2 eggs (the fresher the better)
White wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

1.  Cut the potatoes into quarters (if they are large potatoes cut them down into bite size pieces).

2.  Put the potatoes on to cook in a pan of boiled water (they should take about 8-10 minutes). Drain well when cooked to ensure they are dry.

3.  Chop the onion into small pieces and soften in a large saute pan with a little olive oil.

4.  Add the chopped chorizo  and cook for 2 minutes.

5.  Whilst this is cooking, put a saucepan on with water and a dash of white wine vinegar.

6.  Add the drained potatoes to the saute pan and fry in the oil until they start crisping.

7.  Whilst the potatoes are cooking, when the water has just come to the boil carefully pour your eggs into the water and leave on a very gentle boil for about 3 minutes for a soft poached egg.

8.  Serve the hash with the poached egg on top, and season with salt and pepper.

Chicken Katsu Curry


1 chicken breast per person
1 egg, beaten
Panko breadcrumbs
Japanese sticky rice
Pickled ginger
Furikake of choice (I have used wasabe sesame seeds here)
Japanese curry block
Sunflower or other tasteless oil

1.  Put each chicken breast into a plastic bag and beat with a tenderiser hammer or something else heavy (I use a rolling pin) until the chicken is flat and even.

2.  Put the rice on to cook as per the instructions (usually it is 1 1/2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice, cooked with the lid on for 10 minutes, and then left switched off with the lid on for 10 minutes).

3.  Coat the chicken in cornflour, coat in the beaten egg and then coat in the panko breadcrumbs.

4.  In a large frying pan put enough oil to be able to fully immerse the chicken.  Whilst it is warming put the oven on to 180 degrees C to heat.

5.  Put the chicken breast into the oil when it is hot enough to turn bread golden within 30 seconds, and cook until golden brown.  Remove when it is golden and put on kitchen paper to remove the excess oil.  Put into the oven to complete the cooking (this will take approximately 15 minutes, depending on how thick the chicken is).

6.  Whilst the chicken is cooking through in the oven, make the curry sauce according to the instructions on the curry block (I used S+B golden curry block).

7.  To serve, cut the chicken into slices and plate.  Fill a small bowl or dish with sticky rice, press down lightly and then demould onto the plate.  Put curry sauce on the chicken, and dress the rice with the furikake and pickled ginger.

Serve with an iced plum wine and soda.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Cooking class - Mexican

Todays cooking class (the last in my four christmas present classes) was in mexican cuisine.  it was held at El Rio in Macclesfield.  This was a smaller class than the others I had attended, as there were only 8 students participating.

On arrival I was offered a margarita (well, I couldn't refuse!).  The restaurant is closed on sundays, so the owner who is also the chef was teaching the class.

After introductions, we had an initial talk on some of the ingredients used in mexican cooking, in particular the smoky chipotle paste (a recipe for the paste was supplied in our information packs).  We then started with a quick session on knife skills and then prepared our vegetables for the dishes we were going to be making - refried beans, salsa and a chicken burrito (the two people who only ate fish made swordfish burritos).

The first dish we made was the refried beans, using beans that the chef had already soaked and cooked the night before (although tinned pinto beans are more than acceptable).  Once we had made these, we started cooking the sauce for the burrito as the flavours needed to intensify before we added our marinated chicken.  Throughout the class, chef was describing how the ingredients are used, the use of chillis, the chipotle paste, the use of oregano and also how these foods are often eaten in mexico.  Once we had put the chicken into the sauce to cook through (the meat had been pre-cooked, but needed warming through) we made out salsa.  The burrito's were then wrapped and packaged for us to take home and bake.  As there was lots of filling left over, chef warmed some corn and wheat tortillas so that we could eat the rest of our dish.

There was a very good atmosphere at this class, and chef was very helpful, so I would advise it for anyone wanting to get into mexican food and make something other than mexican food with a kit.

Week 8 dinner menu

Monday - Sausages, mash, beans and gravy
Tuesday - Chicken katsu curry and sticky rice
Wednesday - Chorizo hash with poached egg
Thursday - Bermondsey curry, rice, naan bread and gobi 65
Friday - Rack of lamb, roasted new potatoes, red wine sauce and salad
Saturday - Seafood risotto and salad
Sunday - Roast pork and all the trimmings

Cooking class - Italian

One of my christmas presents was 4 cooking classes in for cuisines - Japanese, Thai, Italian and Mexican.  Yesterday I had my Italian cooking class.

The class was held in Stock Restaurant in Manchester.  We were very fortunate to have the head chef - Enzo Mauro teach us the basics of Italian cuisine in a two hour class.  The class started with introductions, and an agenda that went through what we would learn in the class.  In this session we were to make a basic neapolitan sauce, meatballs (to cook in the sauce) and a classic green pesto.

After the introductions were made, we all went to our stations where we first made the neapolitan sauce (a tomato sauce used as a base for many other pasta dishes).  Chef took the opportunity while we were cooking to talk about olive oil, describing the differences between extra virgin, virgin and the oil pressed from the stones (the name of which I can't remember but will update when I do).  He also described the method used by experts when tasting oils, which includes rubbing it on the hand to warm and then smell - in order to assess the acidity and aroma of the oil.  All very interesting!

Whilst we were cooking the sauce, the next step was to make the meatballs to put in the sauce.  These were very simple (but very tasty) comprising of -

Beef mince
Fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese
1 egg
Salt and pepper

I learned here not to brown or fry the meatballs first, just to put them straight into the pasta sauce to cook in there.  This makes them tender and juicy, and don't get the spongy texture you can get with them when they have been pre-cooked.

As these would take a while to cook, the next thing to make was the pesto.  This was the first time I had made pesto, but it was so delicious I will be making it again.

Chef was incredibly helpful, and when he wasn't helping us to adjust our dishes, to give tips or to answer our questions, he was regaling us with stories about his time working with Ricky Stein and Keith Floyd.

At the end of the class, chef talked to us about some of the different types of pastas available, and what dishes they are most suitable for.

For anyone who enjoys cooking and enjoys Italian food, I would definitely recommend this class.  If you are interested, the classes are available through Intafood

Monday, 14 February 2011

Bermondsey chicken curry

I have previously described how I used my imagination to make up a curry sauce which is now affectionately named Bermondsey curry.  As I made this tonight, I thought I would share the completed dish.

Week 7 dinner menu

Monday - chicken curry, rice and naan bread
Tuesday - Chicken braised in cider and chorizo with celeriac mash
Wednesday - Freezer surprise
Thursday - Fish pasta
Friday - Chilli with rice and fried potatoes
Saturday - Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread and salad
Sunday - Chicken fajitas

Steak and chips

Everyone knows how to cook steak and chips, yes?

Not quite.  Its very easy to end up with a steak that would be suitable as a piece of shoe leather (and probably as tasty).  And chips?  even easier to end up with soggy bags of fat on your plate.

In my opinion, if your steak needs tenderising with a mallet prior to cooking it, it isn't suitable to be cooked as a steak.  A tough piece of meat needs slow cooking to bring the best out of it.  I always look for a steak with some fat marbling through it, so that it stays beautifully tender.  True, it may not be healthy, but everything in moderation and all that!

When it comes to cooking a steak I always use a griddle pan.  Some people use a grill, but I don't think my grill gets hot enough to do it justice.  just prior to cooking, I season with salt and pepper (sometimes substituting regular salt for garlic salt).  I put the steak into a very hot griddle pan, turning once halfway through.  You will notice I haven't given cooking times for the steak, as this would vary dependent on the cut, the thickness of the steak, and how the person eating it likes their steak cooked.

How to feel that a steak is cooked correctly

Steak can be cooked blue, rare, medium, well done or somewhre between each of these.  try the following to understand how your steak should feel when pressed to assess how it is cooked.

Touch your thumb and first finger together, and then press on the ball of your thumb.  You will feel that the flesh is quite soft.  Now press your thumb and middle finger together.  You will feel that the ball of your thumb feels a little firmer.  As you move along to each finger you will find it gets firmer, with the little finger touching the thumb the firmest.  If you assume that index finger equals rare, and little finger equals well done, you can now feel how your steak will feel when pressed.

Once you have cooked your steak, it should always rest for a few minutes on a warm plate otherwise it will be tough and you won't get the best from your steak.

Now that you can cook a nice steak, the next thing to think about is the chips to go with it.  I very rarely cook chips at home (maybe once every 2 months) so when I do, I want to get them right.

The first thing is choosing your potatoes.  You don't want a waxy potato, you want a floury potato so that the inside of the chip is soft and fluffy.  Potatoes such as rooster or Maris Piper are good chipping potatoes.  The next thing you need is the oil to cook them in.  If you want to use a bottled oil, it is best to use a flavourless oil such as sunflower oil.  Olive oil has a strong flavour and the flavour will taint the chips.  If you are feeling decadent (or remember the 'olden days') then beef fat is a fantastic fat for cooking chips in.  It tolerates the high temperatures very well.

I do not have a deep fat fryer, so I fry chips in a large frying pan with deep sides.  I heat the oil, and test it with a piece of bread (it should brown within approximately 30 seconds).  Once you have peeled and cut your potatoes, make sure they are very dry before you put them in the oil, otherwise it will spit, and that hurts if it hits you.  Put the chips into the pan ensuring that all of the chips are in the oil.  The oil should bubble around the chips and then settle down to an oil equivalent of a 'high simmer'. You may need to turn the pan down slightly if they are browning quickly.  As we cook the chips twice, we don't want them to brown to much on the first fry.   Dependent on how fat your chips are, the chips may take about 10 minutes to cook.  Take them out and drain them well on some kitchen paper.  While the chips are out of the pan is when I normally cook my steaks, so that while they are resting on a plate, the chips can get their second fry.  The point of the second fry is to get the chips nice and crispy (soggy chips are not good).  Bring the heat back up on your pan (test again with bread if needed), and return the chips to the frying pan.  The point of this fry is to colour and to ensure the outside is crispy.  so they don't need to be in the pan long.  As soon as they are a lovely golden colour they can be removed and drained.

I hope you enjoy your steak and chips after reading this, I did!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Week 6 dinner menu

Monday - Smoked sausage, mash potato and sauerkraut
Tuesday - Yaki Udon and tempura prawns, with gyoza
Wednesday - Grilled salmon, new potatoes and salad
Thursday - Chicken pie, carrot mash and french style peas
Friday - Fishcakes, crispy new potatoes, salad with lemon mayonnaise
Saturday - Steak with homemade chips
Sunday - Chicken curry with rice

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Rosalind's weaning experience

I have a daughter called Rosalind who is just starting her experience with food.  We have decided to wean her using the baby led weaning style.  Basically this involves not pureeing food, just giving her what you or I would eat, starting with fruit and vegetables, and moving up with meat etc - obviously with a few limitations such as cutting down salt and not giving honey until she is a year old.

Rosalinds first food was banana when she grabbed my hand and pulled the banana I was holding into her mouth, so I took that as the signal that she wanted to start eating.

Below is Rosalinds first attempt at eating fromage frais (interesting, as you give her a loaded spoon and let her work it out)

A messy but fun experience!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Eyeballs, slugs and cockroaches

OK.  I admit it.  I'm a very fussy eater.  I am a nightmare in a restaurant, because of the reasons you are to shortly read.  I find it hard to try new foods (but I generally will try them).

The three foods that I hate the most title this post - eyeballs, slugs and cockroaches.  Now before you ask, I don't make it a habit of having a chew on a slug in the garden on a sunny evening, and cockroaches are too crunchy!

Anyway, the reason this post is called eyeballs, slugs and cockroaches is because that is how I describe the three foods I really really dislike.


Eyeballs are what the average person would call a tomato.  Out of my three dislikes - this is by far the worst.  This is the only one where I can really say I dislike the flavour enough to make me retch.  The worst culprit has to be the cherry tomato.  Little eyeballs that pop in your mouth when you bite them, squirting slimey juice and pips.  The only tomato I can really manage, is when it has been cooked for a very long time until it is basically a tomato sauce (like a pasta sauce), but if you watch me, you will see me picking out the lumps if it hasn't completely fallen apart.


Slugs are a strange one (mushrooms to the uninitiated).  I like the flavour of mushrooms, but I really dislike the texture, unless they have been fried to a crisp.  I have been reliably informed that up to the age of about 5, one of my favorite foods was mushrooms on toast, so I don't know what caused the change.  I do however know what locked in the dislike - when I was 18 I was in a beefeater type restarant where I had ordered a steak.  It was served with tinned button mushrooms.  Guess who made the mistake of trying one to see if the dislike of mushrooms had changed?  From that attempt - the answer was no.  That was 20 years ago, and I can still remember it very clearly.


Now cockroaches is a strange one - as I don't dislike the food per se - but I dislike what always occurs when I eat them.  Cockroaches are kidney beans (now you know!). As a child my dad always made chilli with a tin of baked beans rather than kidney beans, which I put down to a dislike of his (and I admit I like it made that way now).  When I started eating chilli anywhere except at home, of course kidney beans were the bean of choice.  Now - I don't know if I am just a very unlucky lady, or there is a kidney bean conspiracy, but every time I had chilli I would get about half way through and then get a rock hard kidney bean.  This is rather off putting, when you don't know if you are going to crack a tooth through the rest of your meal.  I put kidney beans and baked beans in my chilli these days as my husband likes them, and at the end of the meal there is a little pile of cockroaches on my plate.

At the beginning of this post I said that I am a nightmare in a restaurant.  Apart from disliking tomato and mushroom, I have another dislike that combined with the above make certain styles of food rather difficult to buy.

I dislike savoury creamy sauces/soups.  I am not averse to a blob of cream with my lemon tart, but I simply don't like cream to taste savoury.  Putting 2+2 together (and possibly making 96) if you don't like mushrooms, don't like tomatoes and don't like creamy sauces, it really crosses off alot on an average european menu!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Week 5 dinner menu

Monday - Takeaway
Tuesday - sausages and mash
Wednesday - Salmon, new potatoes, peas and rocket salad
Thursday - Slow cooked chilli con carne and rice
Friday - Chinese feast
Saturday - Lasagne, garlic bread and salad
Sunday - Roast chicken with all the trimmings

Monday, 31 January 2011

Shopping centre picnic

With a baby it can be difficult to get out to restaurants as many people know.  As my husband had taken some time off, we decided to go shopping, and to combine it with some nice food.  My daughter is lovely, but not really known for her patience, so we decided we would make a picnic and take it with us to eat in the food hall.

We decided to make bento boxes, so that it could be filling, and was suitable to be eaten cold.

The red box is mine, and the blue box is Barts'.

In my boxes, I had -
  • Sushi rice with wasabi sesame seeds and pickled ginger
  • Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette)
  • Stir-fried beansprouts with some spring onion
Barts box had -

  • Sushi rice with wasabi sesame seeds and a pickled plum
  • Broccoli in oyster sauce
  • Instant pickled cucumber
  • Tamagoyaki
The tamagoyaki and instant pickled cucumber are recipes from a book called the Just Bento cookbook.  The sushi rice was cooked according to the instructions, with the sushi vinegar made according to the instructions I found on a packet of nori.

For UK based bento fans - the cookbook mentioned above is currently available in Waterstones to buy.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Cooking class - Thai

I had the second class yesterday at the Royal orchid in Manchester.

Again there were 10 people there including myself, 2 hosts and the chef.

In this class we learned how to make spring rolls, a lovely dipping sauce and thai green curry with chicken.

The cooking part was broken up into sections, and done in groups of 5 on gas bottle powered hobs (the sort of thing you can use when camping).

The first part was making the spring roll filling, which had to be left to cool before making the spring rolls themselves. The next part was making the curry paste (which is very simple), and then making the curry itself.

Unlike the Japanese class where I felt I learned new techniques and skills, this class was very much like a conveyer belt - you were given a bowl with an ingredient in it, told how many spoonfuls to take, and then pass it down the line. A little bit on using and preparing palm sugar was mentioned, but otherwise it was more a learn to make a specific recipe class. Due to health and safety  you weren't allowed to switch on your own hob, and the hosts deep fried your spring rolls for you.

If you went as a group for a bit of fun, and intended to sit and enjoy your meal at the end, then this class may be interesting. If you want to go to learn new cooking skills/techniques, then this class may only be interesting if you are starting out with cooking, rather than cooking regularly for yourself

2 more classes to go!

Week 4 dinner menu

Monday - Pork chops with apple sauce, new potatoes and veg
Tuesday - Haggis, neeps and tatties (what else!)
Wednesday - Tamarind chilli chicken
Thursday -Eating out
Friday - Selection of quiches, jacket potatoes and salad
Saturday - Eating out
Sunday - Eating out

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Rack of lamb and chocolate pots

Every now and then I decide to cook a 'posh' dinner on a saturday night (I don't do it too often, otherwise we would be the size of a house!!).  This week I did a rack of lamb with a red wine sauce, crushed new potatoes and peas, with chocolate orange pots for dessert

Rack of lamb with crushed new potatoes

Serves 2


1 rack of lamb (6 cutlets)
10-12 new potatoes
1/2 bottle red wine
1 shallot or red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
Frozen peas or petit pois
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Redcurrant jelly

1.  Put the oven on to warm up 180 degrees c and put an oven dish in

2.  Heat up a large frying pan with a knob of butter and a little olive oil to stop the butter burning

3.  Prepare the lamb by scoring through the skin and fat in a diamond pattern.  This will help the fat to render out, then season with salt and pepper

4.  Put the lamb skin side down into the frying pan, to crisp, and then turn to brown the meat

5.  Once this is done, put it in the oven for 22 minutes (for medium rare)

6.  Whilst this is cooking, put your potatoes into hot water and cook for 15 minutes

7.  In the pan that you browned the lamb in, soften your chopped onion or shallot, and add your garlic

8.  Once these have softened, add your 1/2 bottle of red wine and a large spoon of redcurrent jelly.  Also add a sprig of rosemary (or a sprinkle if using dried)

9.  Reduce this down until about 1/3 the volume

10.  Once you have taken your meat out, let it rest for about 10 minutes, then carve into individual cutlets

11.  Pour any juices into your sauce and stir through with a knob of butter

12. Put your peas on to cook whilst finishing your potatoes

13.  Drain your potatoes, put back into the pan and lightly break with a fork.

14.  Put a nice slosh of olive oil into the sauce pan, season with salt and black pepper, put the lid back on and shake

15.  To serve - put your potatoes on to the middle of the plate, put your cutlets on top, and your peas to one side.  Spoon some of the red wine sauce over your cutlets and put some extra on the side of the plate

The chocolate pots were a Jamie Oliver recipe from the Jamie Oliver 30 minute meals cookbook, so I won't copy the recipe here, but I used oranges as I couldn't find satsumas.  The recipe made enough for 6 espresso cups, plus some to lick out of the cooking bowl :)

I have my restaurant cooking class in a Thai restaurant this weekend, so there will be another update soon