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

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

Friday, 21 January 2011

Barts bento

My bento boxes and other goodies arrived!  As my husband also came back from a work trip in India, I thought he could be the guinea pig for the first bento box.

In the very top there is a packet of instant miso soup, and a straw with some soy sauce.

In the top food tier there are crispy prawn reverse maki rolls, a few extra panko covered prawns and some chopped radishes

In the bottom tier is some sliced omelette with mirin in, and some sticky rice with pickled ginger, nori and sesame seeds sprinkled on the top

I'll be adding more vegetable next time, now I have an understanding of the volumes in the box - it was a challenge using the space effectively!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


As part of trying to eat tastier healthier lunches, I have decided to try and do lunches for me and my family 'japanese style'.  By this I mean the creation of bento boxes with rice, vegetables and meat that can be eaten at room temperature at lunchtime.

I have ordered some bento boxes from The Japan Centre - which is a shop I love in Piccadilly, London.  These boxes are layered so that rice can be put in one layer, and vegetables/meat in the other section.

I have also ordered a book called Just Bento which will show me some Japanese and western suggestions for bento boxes.

Heres hoping I don't poison my husband!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Week 3 dinner menu

This weeks evening meals

Monday - Chilli chicken ramen and vegetable spring rolls
Tuesday - Mince and mash potatoes
Wednesday - Quorn stew and dumplings, roast potatoes and carrots
Thurday - Prawn and pea risotto with scallops
Friday - Fishcakes and chips
Saturday - Rack of lamb with red wine and recdurrant sauce, crushed new potatoes and salad
Sunday - Crispy beef with chilli and fried rice

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Bermondsey curry

When I was a child as a treat we used to be given chinese takeaway for my supper.  I always used to have fried rice or chow mein with chinese curry sauce.  On even rarer occasions we would have an Indian takeaway where I would have a chicken madras.

When I was eventually cooking for myself, I decided I would try to make my own curry.  I didn't have any cook books, so I guessed what was in it.  What came out was not a recognisable flavour from any region (not Chinese, Indian, Thai, Malay, Indonesian or anywhere else I can think of) so it became Bermondsey curry.

The sauce I will give the recipe for (and its a real kitchen cupboard recipe) can either be used to cook meat in, or can be cooked in a saucepan in about 2 minutes and poured over the top, which is what I used to do, poured over a roasted chicken leg and rice.

Bermondsey curry sauce

Makes approx 1 pint

3 tbsp curry powder (I use Schwartz madras spices)
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
3 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2-3 tbsp gravy granules (dependent on how thick you like it)
1 pint water

Put all in a saucepan, and stir continuously until thickened.

If you want to use this recipe to cook your meat/veg in, use a stock cube instead of gravy and thicken at the end of cooking, either with some gravy granules or with a tsp cornflour mixed with a little water.

I hope you enjoy Bermondsey curry.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Coffee - the new food group

Terry Pratchett postulated that there was an additional food group on top of the commonly known ones - his was burnt crunchy bits.  I believe there is a food group he ignored - coffee.

Coffee is what gets me moving in the mornings.  Without it I'm slower than a sloth on a lazy day. My morning cappuccino gives me a dose of calcium alongside its coffee goodness, my iced mocha when I'm out and about refreshes and hydrates.

But - and this is a big but - I have a problem also with coffee.  I don't like coffee flavoured things. A bag of revels is truly like the game of russian roulette seen on the TV advert.  Chocolate covered coffee beans make me wince.  Coffee syrup - bleh.  Coffee liquer - double bleh.  The only dessert (that I can think of) that I enjoy that has coffee flavour is tiramisu, and I'm sure that is because basically the base is soaked in real espresso.

So, for all you dieticians out there -


Wednesday, 12 January 2011

It helps to have risotto rice in order to make a risotto

Every week I plan what meals as a family we are going to have so that I can work out what shopping we need to buy.  When staples are used up, they are written on a white board so that we know in the next shop what we need to add in addition to the menu items.

So why didn't I have any risotto rice this evening?

Anyway, in order to get some supper I used paella rice instead.  It is a similar round grain rice, but doesn't go quite as creamy as a nice arborio rice does.  It worked, I ate it and it was tasty.

Prawn and pea risotto with Scallops

Serves 2

200g arborio rice
1 pint chicken stock
1 small glass of white wine (warmed)
1 clove garlic
1 banana shallot
50g frozen peas (I prefer petit pois)
100g cooked and peeled prawns
Parmesan cheese
Olive oil
6 scallops
Salt and pepper

1.  In a saute pan with a lid, put a slosh of olive oil.

2.  Soften the shallot and garlic in the oil (keep it gently so it doesn't colour).

3.  Once the shallot has softened, put the rice into the pan and stir until it becomes translucent.

4.  Once the rice is translucent, put in the warmed white wine, and stir until the wine is absorbed.

5.  Once the wine is finished, continue this with the chicken stock, one ladle at a time, continuing to stir.

6.  Test the rice occasionally to get to your preference (slightly al dente or creamy).

7.  Once the stock is absorbed (or slightly before if you prefer al dente) add the prawns, the peas and a knob of butter.  Stir the butter through, turn the heat right down and put the lid on to keep warm and to heat the peas and prawns through whilst cooking the scallops.

8.  In a frying pan add a knob of butter and a little olive oil to stop the butter burning.

9.  When the butter is bubbling, add the scallops, and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side (depending on how big they are).  they should be nicely caramelised.

10.  Taste the rice, add salt and pepper to taste.

11.  Serve the rice in a bowl with the scallops on top, with grated parmesan (optional) and a nice rocket salad.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Almost vegetarian stew

Years ago (when Quorn first came out) I decided to try and make some vegetarian meals that a hardened omnivore like myself would eat (I'm really not a vegetable eater if I can help it!).  I decided to try and make a stew.  I had never made a stew of any kind before, but had a memory of my aunts sausage casserole, that gave me an idea of the sort of things that went in and decided to make up a recipe.  It was surprisingly successful, so let it loose on my friends.

This is an almost vegetarian stew as it has worcestershire sauce in it.  If you are a true veggie, you can omit it or you can get some veggie worcestershire sauce like this.

1 large packet Quorn pieces (not the mince)
1 large onion chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp mushroom ketchup
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
Handful mushrooms chopped
2 tsp marmite
Handful pearl barley
3 large carrots sliced
sunflower oil
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs

In a large pan soften the onions in the sunflower oil.

Add the quorn to get a little flavour from the onions into the quorn and cook for a minute

Add approximately 2 pints water, the chopped tomatoes, the worcestershire sauce, the mushroom ketchup, the tomato ketchup, the pearl barley, the carrots and the mushrooms.  Bring to the boil and then reduce down to a simmer.

Cook for about 30 minutes and serve with dumplings and roast potatoes, or mash.

(The dumplings can be cooked in the stew for the last 15 minutes, just bring the temperature of the stew up to nearly a boil and drop in)

Chicken and prawn noodle stirfry

Thought I would put a recipe up this time.  This is something I made up, but uses some very standard flavours in the world of noodles/stir fries.

I hope you enjoy this

Chicken (1 breast per 2 people)
Cooked and peeled prawns - small handful per person
Cornflour (to coat prawns)
Groundnut oil
1 nest noodles per person
Bunch spring onions chopped 
Fresh ginger (I use very lazy ginger jars) 1tablespoon
Chilli - 1 teaspoon if using very lazy chilli, or one chilli finely chopped
garlic - 1 clove (or 1 teaspoon of very lazy....:) )
sesame oil
Rice wine vinegar
soy sauce
Shaoxing rice wine (or sherry if you dont have it)
Beansprouts - as many as you like

1.  Chop the chicken into mouthfuls, and put into a bowl.  Into the bowl put in a couple tablespoons soy, tablespoon rice wine vinegar, a little of your ginger, cover and leave to marinade for an hour

2.  Cook your noodles if they are dried, run under cold water to stop them cooking further and then shake a little sesame oil over them to stop them sticking together too much

3.  Heat a wok until almost smoking with a tbsp groundnut oil, and add your ginger, garlic and chilli.

4.  Cook for a few seconds then add your marinated chicken (don't pour in the sauce).  This needs to cook for about 2 minutes.

5.  Put your prawns into the leftover sauce, with a couple of tsp of cornflour and mix together (the cornflour stops the juice leaking out of the prawns).

6.  Add a good splash of shaoxing wine to the wok and cook until it is absorbed/evaporated.

7.  Add the prawns to the wok continue to stirfry (they should get a nice coating) - if you need a little extra oil add it here

8.  Add the spring onions and beansprouts to the wok and cook for a minute

9.  Add the noodles, a splash of sesame oil and soy sauce to taste, and toss in the wok until they are heated through.

10.  Serve with a few extra spring onions on top

Monday, 10 January 2011

Indiana Jones and the sinking glace cherries

Ever made a cake with glace cherries in it? If you are like me, then all of those cakes would have had a delightfully chewy cherry base, whilst all of the cake above it would have been cherry No Man's Land.

Why do they do this? Is it to torture us amateur cake makers? Are they scared of heights?

A case in point - a few days ago I made a lovely cherry and almond cake. I dutifully followed all of the instructions in the recipe, folding in the flour and almonds lightly, almost caressing the cherries as I enveloped them in the cake batter.

What came out of the oven after 70 minutes of smelling this lovely cake baking out of the house? Yet another delicious but cherry based -literally- rather than cherry filled cake.

I decided to go to a food forum and find out from the experts how they stop the little red juicy devils from travelling down into the cake basement. The answer? Wash all of the lovely sticky syrup off, and liberally coat in some of the flour to be used in your cake. Fold in to your batter so lightly even butterflies wouldnt be disturbed, and someone suggested putting a few cherries on the top, in the hope that they only make it half way down the cake.

I shall try to make this cake again (as it was actually delicious, if a little imbalanced) and I fully expect those little cherries to literally be floating in the cake.

Here is to hoping those little cherries get over their fear of heights.

For anyone interested in trying this cake (and it is delicious - the toasted almonds give a great flavour) it can be found in 101 Slow cooking recipes

Beginners attempt at sushi

My first blog is going to be about my experience last saturday.  My husband bought me a wonderful christmas present which was a cooking class in a Japanese restaurant through a company called Intafood.  The class was a 2 hour session on making sushi.

As well as the host, we had two chefs with us.  There were 10 students in the class including myself.

The class was done by a demonstration of one type of sushi, and then us making it with support from the chefs.  We did this several times for the different types of sushi we made.  At the end of it there was a LOT of sushi, which we could either enjoy in the restaurant or take away.

This was my first time at making sushi, and something I will do again.

The class was great fun, and a wonderful introduction to restaurant cooking.  I will be doing the Thai course next, in a few weeks time