Saturday, 30 June 2012

Prawn and Asparagus Salad with Sauteed Potatoes - Friday 29th June 2012

Lovely crunchy jumbo prawns, set on a chunky salad of tomatoes, red peppers, asparagus, a few left over cannelini beans from yesterday, grated carrot and lots of herbs. Dressing was Mexican style, as you would dress a guacamole, lime juice, salt, a little chilli, a dressing that really brings the flavour of the prawns to the front.  Just a few slices of potato, sauteed in olive oil complete the picture.

Prawn and Asparagus Salad with Sauteed Potatoes


Friday, 29 June 2012

Purple Asparagus Day Two - Fresh Tomato Penne, with Griddled Asparagus in Prosciutto - Thurs 28th June 2012

Some more Purple asparagus from Aspara Buddies still left, and some slices of prosciutto. Also some fresh tomatoes slightly too soft for salad.

So wrap the lightly blanched asparagus in the ham, peel the tomatoes chop and fry them with some red onions and garlic, cook some penne pasta. Pop the asparagus parcels on the griddle for about 5 minutes, whilst the pasta finishes. Mix the pasta and sauce, top with asparagus, scatter some parmesan and fresh basil.

Hurray! the Azzurri have won the footie as well!

Forza Italia!!


Purple Asparagus Day One - Salade Nicoise with Shaved Asparagus - Wednesday 27th June 2012

Today is the turn of the Purple asparagus from Aspara Buddies. My new found favourite I only tried Purple for the first time this year, (kindly gifted to me by Lahogue Farm, and eaten with amazing blender hollandaise).  Another lovely day, I am still in the mood for salad.

This is my take on a classic Salad Nicoise in so far as it has :

  • Green beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Tuna
  • Potatoes
  • Eggs

And the raw purple asparagus finely sliced (with a knife, though I should have got the mandoline out, it would have been finer) and scattered over the top.



Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The As have it.. Asparagus salad with croutons, Chunky Avocado Guacamole. Tuesday 26th June 2012

Salads today. The first really nice warm day this year, and I didn't really fancy anything heavy at all.

I was so lucky, I won a quiz organized by Aspara Buddies, the Asparagus blog of Hargreaves Plants.

"Congratulations! We will send you some special varieties of asparagus" they said

Look! This is an amazing amount of asparagus! So please expect quite a number of asparagussy dinners in the days to follow..



Today I fancied a light vegetarian dinner, so I made a chunky guacamole, with LOTS of coriander and lime, and paired that with a green salad, containing fresh peas and soya beans, and some lightly blanched green beans and Ariane asparagus.


The spears of this weren't too fat so they sliced beautifully for salad, just a slight hint of background bitterness worked really well with the silky citrus of the guacamole, and the sweetness of the peas and parsley in the green salad.

Asparagus salad with croutons, Chunky Guacamole



Tuesday, 26 June 2012

More salad - Panzanella Salad with Mortadella - Saturday 22nd June 2012

More salad - an Italian special this time, this light bright panzanella has lots of tomatoes , raw red peppers, radishes and freshly chopped herbs, with toasted garlicky rough croutons. I used the remains of the foccacia I made for Thursday, torn into pieces and toasted with olive oil and chopped garlic until brown and crisp.


Mixed Grain Salad with Roasted Red Peppers & Capricorn Goats Cheese - Friday 21st June 2012

Lunch was the fun thing today, with yesterday's left over 5 grain salad topped with roasted red peppers, more tomatoes, fresh basil and cubed Capricorn goats cheese, using lots of my #capricornchallenge hamper.


Light and delicious! 


Thursday, 21 June 2012

Italian Whole Grains with Roasted Vegetables, with Mortadella & Parma Ham , homemade foccacia - Weds 20th June 2012

The summer solstice today, the longest day in the year. And (for a change) warm and sunny.

A pleasant afternoon spent wandering round Myddleton House in Enfield left me not wanting to cook anything heavy.

Out of curiosity, I had picked up a packet of Pedon 5 grains for salad ( a mixture of Spelt, barley, whole thaibonnet rice, kamut, wheat, oats) and so cooked these and dressed them in a balsamic vinegar and olive oil vinaigrette, and mixed in some roasted red peppers, red onions and aubergine chunks and some shredded basil. With some Italian cold meats to keep the theme going, I quickly made some focaccia to go with a very tasty meal.

Italian Whole Grains with Roasted Vegetables, with Mortadella & Parma Ham , homemade foccacia





New Season Green Peas & Leftover Sausage Patties with new potatoes - Tues June 19th 2012

The first of the new seasons green peas are the star of today's dinner. Teamed with left over sausages, taken out of their skins and fried to make crispy little patties, in a whole grain mustard gravy. Very tasty.

New Season Green Peas & Leftover Sausage Patties with new potatoes


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Malloreddus Pasta with Raw Tomatoes, Roasted Peppers & Capricorn Goat's Cheese for #CapricornChallenge Monday 18th June 2012

I so enjoyed the penne pasta with raw tomatoes that I made with the lovely heritage tomatoes from Westlands Wow recently, that I decided to revisit it, with some tweaks and changes, to make a meal with the contents of my #CapricornChallenge hamper.

No pasta in the hamper, so I used some Sardinian Malloreddus pasta that I bought at Carluccio's Caffรจ recently, this is partially flavoured with saffron, and looks very pretty. (To be honest, it tastes remarkably like ordinary pasta, and I think I prefer the bronze die Lumaconi pasta  from Sainsbury's Taste the Difference range, but that shape doesn't work as well with this raw sauce.  They do a large penne in that range that I haven't tried yet, but that might work here.)

So working to the same basic recipe as last time, but with the following substitutions:

These were all from my hamper:


  • Waitrose tomatoes for Heritage tomatoes. Sorry Waitrose, the vine grown plum tomatoes are lovely, but I could taste the difference. I think I have been spoilt for ordinary tomatoes :( 
  • Roasted and peeled red peppers:  take the cores out of red peppers, quarter, mix in a bowl with a little olive oil, salt pepper and oregano, and roast for about 45-60 mins at Gas Mark 7 until the edges are nicely charred. Pop into a bowl and cover with cling film until they are cooler, then peel and slice)
  • Finely chopped red onion.
  • Walnut and pumpkin seed bread (that I made earlier in the week) now rather stale, but perfect for crumbing and frying until crisp and brown in olive oil.
  • Topped with some diced Capricorn Goat's Cheese


and from my fridge:

  • Some streaky bacon, about 4 rashers for the two of us, chopped and fried til brown before adding the breadcrumbs and frying til all nice and crispy.
  • No parsley today, but I did have half a bag of spinach, watercress and rocket salad. So I chopped that finely and used it as a herb. I was surprised how really good that was. 


Malloreddus Pasta with Raw Tomatoes, Roasted Peppers & Capricorn Goat's Cheese








Proper Roast Chicken. With Stuffing. And everything...Sunday 17th June 2012

I love a roast chicken. But it is so rare that I make one. Perhaps because good free range chickens don't raise their heads in the cheaps section very often?

Well, the week before last, when Bob was feeling very poorly with his chicken pox, and I made him proper chicken soup, I was lucky to be in Sainsbury's when they were marking down some excellent free range chickens to a fraction of their original price. I would have bought more, except I don't have a very large freezer, but I did get two, took the breasts and legs off both of them, and used the wings and carcasses and one set of legs for the soup.  Breasts I froze as crowns and decided to roast one this weekend.

Anointed with olive oil and dusted with seasoning and some dried tarragon leaves, I quick roasted it for 20 mins and then reduced the heat right down for another 40. Gives a good crisp skin without drying the meat out too much.

And we had my amazing easy stuffing balls. Ordinary sage and onion stuffing, made up with boiling water, and then, whilst it is still hot, add 2 sausages (any kind) taken out of their skins, and mixed well in. Make into balls with wet hands and cook around the chicken. Fab.

Roast Chicken with tarragon, stuffing balls, roast potatoes and spring cabbage.




Monday, 18 June 2012

Duck Liver and Bacon Salad - Saturday June 16th 2012

I know, it's not that long since I had this..but it is so delicious.

The duck livers were glazed with cherry vinegar this time, and the new potatoes were incorporated into the salad, but otherwise it is the same delicious plateful as before..


Sausages! and a special Pudding for @TotalGreek Yoghurt - Friday 15th June 2012

Bangers and mash! What's there not to like...


and as it was a nice simple dinner, we had a dessert for a change.  I had promised the Total Greek Yoghurt girls on Twitter @TotalGreek that I would put together a nice pudding for them.

As it happened the fridge just "happened" to get unplugged and I needed to use up some mascarpone that was a little too warm for my liking. And some strawberries the same. Total Yoghurt is so amazingly stable I had no qualms about it, but decided to use some of that as well. And I had a little bottle of Drambuie just sitting there. Oh, and I found a meringue nest left over from making Eton Mess..



So here you have a Drambuie Mascarpone & Greek Yoghurt Cream with Strawberries and Pistachios






Saturday, 16 June 2012

Halibut with butter sauted white courgettes, green beans, Pink Fir Apple potatoes

Lovely little piece of halibut, which we have all too rarely. I pan fried it in plenty of butter and olive oil, having dusted it lightly in seasoned flour first to protect it, as it dries out easily. With white courgettes from the Turkish supermarket, little oval ones, lovely light flavour, sauteed in butter with plenty of parsley.

A good zzz of lemon juice over everything, and it's done in the time it takes to cook the potatoes.

Halibut with butter sauted white courgettes, green beans, Pink Fir Apple potatoes




Lumaconi alla vongole ... Weds 14th June 2012

Sometimes it isn't about the cooking. It is just about good things you can buy.   Today, I felt lazy, so pasta and a bought sauce. But the pasta is special, and the sauce delicious. I recommend.

Sainbury's Lumaconi pasta - huge snail shells that are really good with meaty and tomato sauces, with bits in that can get in the crevices.
Sainsbury's Vongole sauce.  I am not a lover of bought pasta sauces in general, but this one is good. Not too much tomato puree, so a lighter consistency than most, and plenty of little clams throughout.

Add a green salad and a garlic pizza bianca made with the Napolina pizza base from my #capricornchallenge hamper and the cheatin' dinner is done.

Lumaconi Pasta alla vongole with garlic pizza bianca 








Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Pork Belly with Burnt Crackling - a lesson to be learnt..Tuesday 13th June 2012

Well it was the 13th. Not a Friday, but ...

Lesson to be learnt. When you decide that your pork belly crackling needs to be a bit cracklier, and you put it under the grill, don't then decide to go and check out the contents of the fridge...

It took approximately 3 mins to scorch. Oh heck. Fortunately, I like the flavour of scorched pork belly crackling (nothing like a bit of char) but if you don't...

Pork Belly with Burnt Crackling, Mashed Potato and Sweetheart Cabbage and Cauliflower



Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Slow Roast Pork Belly, Jersey Potatoes and Green Beans - Monday 11th June 2012

Of course I spoke too soon about summer being here. It has reverted to autumn, and so it gives me an excuse to cook delicious pork belly.  I love belly of pork. Apart from giggling to myself with its name evoking Ho Ho Ho type belly wobbling, it is unctuous and soft and meaty and delicious and makes me happy..

So long as it is cooked properly.

Undercooked pork belly is disgusting, tough, flabby and fatty all in one repellant swoop. So make sure you cook it long and slow. I have played with various methods of cooking it, and seem to come back to Skye Gyngell's version in How I Eat - the main difference is her use of vegetables to rest the meat on (which add a lot of flavour to the gravy) and she sprinkles the joint with wine and vinegar (although I just use vinegar) before covering in foil for the long bake.

Slow Roast Pork Belly, Jersey Potatoes and Green Beans



Sunday, 10 June 2012

Saturday Salad - Saturday 9th June 2012

Hurray, it didn't rain this Saturday! So that means I can declare it a summer's day and make a nice English style salad.  By which I mean one with salads alongside meat or fish, rather than all combined in one.

I was feeling lazy, so tinned tuna, hard boiled eggs, coleslaw (bought), green salad and a delicious tomato salad courtesy of Westlands Wow (yes, I still have some heritage tomatoes left! ). Dressed with thyme vinegar and olive oil, and sprinkled with good old mustard and cress.

Tuna and Egg Salad



Saturday, 9 June 2012

Buttermilk Rabbit Loins wrapped in Bacon, cauliflower & Jersey potatoes - Friday 8th June 2012

This is the saddle of rabbit that I kept back from the braise the other day. Saddles fillet out to two nice meaty loins, very lean, but that very leanness means they don't braise well. They go woolly rather than succulent and overcook easily. But they still need some moisture and fat around them I think to make them really tasty. I had put them in a buttermilk marinade the day I cooked the rest of the rabbit, which ended up being a 48 hour soak.



The marinade was loosely based on one from Niamh Shields' Comfort and Spice - a marvellous book from a fabulous blogger, who I enjoy talking to on Twitter. She uses the marinade for fried chicken, but it translates well to rabbit.  I put a good couple of glugs of buttermilk, a little milk, some salt, pepper, paprika, fresh thyme and a few sage leaves in a bowl, submerged the rabbit and left it in the fridge.

If you try this, be aware that it looks disgusting when you take it out of the fridge, but ignore that, and just drain the meat when you are ready, wrap neatly in stretched streaky bacon, and roll in cling film, making a neat little sausage with tied ends. Poach in water below simmering level (65-70degrees C) for 20 minutes, then finish off by browning in a hot pan in a little butter.

The rabbit stays tender and succulent and contrasts nicely with the crispy bacon.

Rather cheffy I thought..


Thursday, 7 June 2012

Jewish Penicillin - Chicken Soup & Wholemeal Bread - Thursday 7th June 2012

Poor Bob. Feeling rather rough, with a temperature of 102 and an odd rash on his head and chest. A virus of some kind, and I am keeping a careful eye on him in case it gets any worse. He says he just feels not right rather than downright ill. So he is being fed antihistamines and paracetamol with lots of water. (Update.... it's chicken pox... :(   )

And he asked for chicken soup for dinner. His Jewish step-grandfather used to make it for him when he was ill as a youngster,  and although I can't match that at short notice for intensity of flavour (no good boiling fowls around here, I want to go to an area with Kosher shops) I can still make a very pleasing chicken soup with a freerange chicken from the supermarket..



Simple to make in a pressure cooker, the thighs, drumsticks, wings and back of a good freerange chicken (keep the breasts for another day), with a couple of pints of water, a little salt, peppercorns, 3 carrots, 3 sticks of celery, a couple of shallots, a good handful of parsley , a few bay leaves and a good sprig of thyme. All cooked at full pressure for about an hour, then the chicken stripped from the bones and skin, and served shredded with the broth and vegetables and a good sprinkling of finely chopped parsley..

Get well soon.


Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Braised Rabbit in Marsala and Thyme, Spring Greens & Jersey Potatoes - Wednesday 6th June 2012

A chilly English summer. Rainy and windy. I did say summer? Well, it felt like autumn, so we had an autumnal dinner.

Rabbit legs and shoulders braised in chicken stock with a good slug of Marsala, with carrots and celery, and accompanied by freshly steamed Spring greens and Jersey Potatoes.

Braised Rabbit in Marsala and Thyme, Spring Greens & Jersey Potatoes


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Cherry Glazed Gressingham Duck Breast with Fine Beans, Peas and Jersey Potatoes - Monday 4th May 2012

I love duck breasts. Not too pink, just nicely soft , pan-fried skin side down, until most of the fat renders away and the skin is crispy and delicious, and then turned over and finished for 10 minutes in the oven.  This one I glazed with some cherry vinegar (just a couple of spoonfuls in the pan after it comes out of the oven, allowed to reduce until syruppy and the duck breast turned over in it, then left to rest for 5 minutes) and also put some cherry vinegar in the gravy.

Cherry Glazed Gressingham Duck Breast with Fine Beans, Peas and Jersey Potatoes



Sunday, 3 June 2012

Penne with Raw Tomatoes, Parsley & Crispy Breadcrumbs - Friday 1st June 2012

Light, summery, and oh so quick. More of Westlands Wow fabulous tomatoes, but I wanted something that really showcased the bright flavours. By keeping the tomatoes raw, I kept their acidity and liveliness.

Penne with Raw Tomatoes, Parsley & Crispy Breadcrumbs



This is so easy to make.. it will only take the time to heat the water and cook the pasta. I don't put a lot of recipes on here, you usually have to go over to A Greedy Piglet for those, but this is SO easy..

So put the salted water on for the pasta. and add the pasta when the water boils. In the time it takes to cook you will have your sauce made.

Sort out your tomatoes - you can use a mixture or just one kind, whatever you have. I used a nice variety of colours from my Westlands Wow stash - I didn't use the big red one or the green in the end, there was plenty just with the others.


Chop half a red onion or a shallot per person, a bunch of parsley, and your tomatoes. Don't worry about skinning them, just chop them into medium dice, I like to arrange them on the chopping board in a line per person to make it easy to mix with the pasta.  Season on the board with salt and pepper.



In a frying pan, lightly fry some diced chorizo or pancetta and set aside.
Add a good glug of oil and a handful of crumbs and fry these until golden brown.

When the pasta is cooked, drain, mix with the chopped fresh tomatoes, a handful of crunchy breadcrumbs and a scattering of chorizo/pancetta.  

Easy fresh and so delicious. I really recommend this one.


Friday, 1 June 2012

Fat Tomatoes Stuffed with Pigeon & Caponata - Thurs 31st May 2012

More delicious heritage tomatoes courtesy of Westland Wow.

Lovely big fat yellow and red ones, halved, hollowed and stuffed with a mixture of pigeon burger meat (I bought some at the farmers' market, but they are a little too dense for our liking as a burger, so decided to use them up this way) and sauted chopped onions. Topped with breadcrumbs and baked for half an hour. Easy peasy.



Served with garlicky roast peppers and courgettes, and a nice dollop of caponata on the side. No rice or potatoes, I made bread today, so just a couple of slices of freshly made white bread for mopping up the juices.