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Saturday, 30 June 2012

Friday night curry.

My self imposed Asian food ban is over.
How I've missed it, Chinese food tonight, but last night was a selection of veggie dishes. Mutter paneer, Dhal, Mushrooms pakora, and rice.
This was such a flavourful meal, I love making a selection of dishes, and find Asian food lends itself so well to this.  You don't miss the meat at all either, plus it keeps the costs down.

Gammon and potato latkes.

I found this recipe for potato latkes on a food forum I belong to, and loved the sound of them.  The recommendation was to serve them with gammon steaks and apple sauce, which I did, along with some tenderstem broccoli.
Gtaing the potatoes and squeezing out the water is a pain, but worth it.  They were crsipy and delicious, and the whole meal went really well together.
Golden potato latkes.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Stretchy rice

This is Niamh's name for it.
It's actually, Simon Hopkinson's Buttered rice with mozzarella, garlic and basil.
For such a simple, and not very interesting sounding dish, it's delicious, and has lots of stretchy cheese!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Spaghetti carbonara

This is one of the first meals I ever learned to cook, it's also one of my favourites, and Niamh's too.
I hadn't planned to eat at all, as I'd just had a wisdom tooth removed, so told Niamh to help herself to whatever she fancied, and this is what she made.
It's from Delia's Winter Collection Recipe

Halal chicken and rice.

Admittedly I've never been to New York, or anywhere else in the states but I've generally heard of lots of the popular dishes, however, this I hadn't.
I came across it on the Chowhound forums.
If you scroll down, you'll find the recipes for the chicken, rice and white sauce.  I used sriracha as the chilli sauce.
This was delicious.  It was a bit faffy, having three different elements but not difficult, and so flavourful.
We both loved it and it'll become a regular here.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Mushroom baguettes

Another quick Sunday tea.
I had some part baked baguettes, and a couple of paks of portabello mushrooms.
These went in the oven togther, for around 20 minutes, when the baguettes were split open, spread with lefover blue cheese dip, stuffed with little gem lettuce, tomatoes and the quartered mushrooms.
Simple and delicious.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Slow cooker creme brulee.

I don't have a sweet tooth at all, and rarely eat desserts, but creme brulee I love.
I found this recipe on one of my favourite blogs, and it looked so easy, I had to try it.
Recipe here
It really was simple, just whisking together a few ingredients, then putting in ramekins in the slow cooker.  Mine cooked for two and a half hours.
One thing I did sort of mess up, is getting some of the sugar for the topping round the sides, which burnt, but we didn't eat that part!
Highly recommended.


This was my first time trying this.  We like most grains and pulses, so were keen to try it.
I chose this recipe, which sounded amazing here.
Now, this didn't go exactly according to plan.
First off, I couldn't get the scallops, or mustard leaves, and I forgot the rocket to substitute.
Never mind though.
Other than that, I went with the recipe, but the quinoa tasted horribly bitter.  I don't think I did anything wrong.
To rectify it, after searching through the cupboards, I added a big slug of kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce).
That worked.
We really enjoyed it, though it wasn't quite as the recipe states, but then not many of my dishes are!

Boneless buffalo chicken strips

I got this recipe from the new takeaway secret book, as recommended by Jen.  They say to serve with blue cheese dip, which I did, plus sweet and sour cucumbers, crispy corn fritters and salad.
The strips are coated in seasoned flour, egg with hot sauce added and panko breadcrumbs.
The corn, and chopped spring onions are added to batter, and deep fried in blobs.
Cucumber recipe here Corn fritters recipe here
The blue cheese dip is mashed blue cheese, I used stilton, with mayo, sour cream and a squeeze of lemon juice
This is brilliant weekend food, and bound to be a hit with kids.
Niamh loved it, and has just had the leftover chicken for lunch.

Griddled halloumi with cous cous.

This was a really easy meal, in fact Niamh did most of it.
The cous cous is soaked in veg stock, and once done has a spoonful of harissa paste stirred through.
The halloumi is sliced, griddled and is served with lemon juice squeezed over.
With this we had a salad of rocket, tomatoes and olives, and a dollop of yoghurt with mint sauce stirred through and that's that!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Chicken livers with cream and mustard.

It's Wednesday, it's Niamh's turn to cook.
I came across this suggestion for chicken livers on a food forum I belong to (thank you Dena, for this and the Valentine Warner recommendation!).
I showed it to Niamh, and she was keen to give it a try.
I'll paraphrase it for you, oh and of course, I changed it a bit ;)
Fry two finely chopped shallots, and a clove of garlic in olive oil, until softened, add in four sliced chestnut mushrooms.
Once the mushrooms have coloured and softened, add in chicken livers.  I used two bags as bought from my fishmongers, no idea of weight, sorry!
Cook until still pink in the middle, then add a dessert spoon of wholegrain mustard, and a big splash of double cream and heat through.
We had this with Valentine Warner's fennel puree, and Nigella's creamed spinach.
I do like my sleb chefs!
Great success with both, and all on the repeat list.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Quiche, beetroot, and samphire.

These were all new dishes to me, we'd not tried them before.
We have eaten quiche, and smoked mackerel, so I was fairly sure it would be enjoyed.
It was.
Very easy, if you use ready made pastry, and I do, as even thinking about making my own brings me out in a cold sweat.
The beetroot relish came from Valentine Warner.
Niamh doesn't like beetroot, or at least never has before, but I'd only ever served up vac packed stuff.  I thought maybe cooking it myself, would make a difference.
It didn't.
She still didn't like it, and I managed to turn most of my kitchen, and myself purple.  I already have a swollen head, so resemble Augustus Gloop, now, I'm resembling Violet Beaurerguarde, after she's eaten the blueberry chewing gum.

Anyway, this is beetroot, horseradish, dijon mustard, lemon juice and olive oil.

The other side was samphire.
I knew what this was, had heard of it, but never tried it.  I grabbed it when I saw it in the fishmongers.
I was advised to rinse it well, as it's salty.
I asked for advice, and it came back to steam it, so I did, for just three minutes.
We both loved this.
Cooked, but crunchy, and really fresh tasting.
I'll be buying it again, and again, and again..........

Chilli bean wraps

This is a cheat recipe really, the contents of tins and jars mixed.
I did start by frying a chopped onion in some olive oil, but that's where the cooking ends!
To that I added a spoonful of chipotle paste, a tinof drained kidney beans, ditto haricot beans, and a tin of tomatoes with garlic.
It simmers on a low heat for 20 minutes or so and that's it.
To make the wraps, I started with little gem lettuce, then sour cream, the beans and finally, grated cheddar.
As you'll see I'm rubbish at actually wrapping them!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Sardine melts

Neither of us were that hungry tonight, so I decided on something fairly light, tuna melts.
I always have tuna in the cupboard, always, until, it seems, I want to use it.
By the time I discovered this, the shop was shut, and I couldn't think what else to make.
Niamh had a look through the cupboard and found a tin of sardines in tomato sauce.
I didn't check the date, I think it may have been some time ago, but it's tinned food, it doesn't go off right?
I mashed the sardines with a spoonful of mayo, a spoonful of capers, and then spreaded it on three slices of bread.
This was topped with grated gouda and made into sandwiches and they  were fried in butter until browned and crispy.
For a cheap meal, this tasted great, I would make it again, and as well as tuna on the shopping list this week, I've added sardines too!


Hospital food

Unfortunately, I've been in hospital several times with my illness.
When I say food, you'll see from the photo what I consume when in.
I did try eating on one stay.
Watery fish full of bones, macaroni cheese with gravy on it, and stale bread is not my idea of food.
I ask for two cups of tea every time I'm offered, but even then it's sometimes too much.
Last time I was in, I was made to have my tea in plastic cups, as they didn't have enough real ones apparently, and then the same woman wouldn't let me have two cups as 'there's not enough to go round'.
Weird, since I was in a four bed ward and the only one who wanted tea.
The NHS are definitely underfunded if they can't stretch to an extra cuppa,

Saturday, 16 June 2012

More Vietnamese food

I know, I know, I said I was steering clear for a while, and varying our food, but I lied.
I also lied when I told Niamh that I never steal from the bank when playing Monopoly!

I used recipes from my new book, Cafe Vietnam, by Annabel Jackson.
The closest I can find for the recipes are here and here.
Mine doesn't look nearly as good as their photos, but I can assure you, it tasted great.
I served the squid on top of the congee. The stuffed squid, with the soft, comforting rice is such a brilliant combination, and one I wish I'd discovered sooner.
You'll be interested to know that I've bookmarked several non Asian recipes to try this week.
A week with no Asian food!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Chicken Korma

Rick Stein should pay me!
Another recipe from Far Eastern Odyssey.
I've made korma many times, using recipes from Jamie Oliver, and Sam Stern, and whilst they were great, this was so much better.  The flavours were more subtle, but more rounded.
You could tell more work had gone into it. I even bought rosewater online for it.
Korma is Niamh's favourite curry, so I will be making it again, once I've got through the hundreds of other recipes I want to try!
I made a green bean curry to go with it, we like our veg.  This was similar to a thoran.  I left out the coconut, as I hate the texture.
I cook with coconut milk often, but that doesn't contain nasty little bits!
Niamh did the rice with it, she always cooks the rice here, she's better at it than me, and I put peppers on the side.
She loves them, I don't.
A great meal.

Alpine Macaroni

Be warned, this is the best macaroni cheese you will ever taste, it is also, I'm sure, one of the richest dishes known to man.  Serve in small portions.
I ate about a third of what is shown, and was stuffed.
I halved the recipe as shown, also used dijon mustard, and left out the bacon for a meat free meal.
If you are vegetarian make sure the cheese is suitable.
This is pure comfort food at it's best, and is firmly on the repeat list.
I love this Valentine Warner book, and can't believe it took me so long to discover him.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Sausage and apple cobbler

It's not Asian food!
My new Vietnamese recipe book did arrive this morning though........
I didn't cook this either, Niamh did.
Recipe here

It's really delicious, and a good choice when bored with sausage and mash.
Niamh is really chuffed that she made it herself, and I'm chuffed that I got dinner served to me!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Clay pot pork

Last night I took some pork belly slices from the freezer.  I'd planned on a recipe with barbecue sauce, but when I got up, I just didn't feel like it.
As I'd sworn off Asian food for a while I searched the net, all my books and my bookmarks for a recipe to suit.
I couldn't find one, until I found this.
OK, so it's Asian, Vietnamese, but maybe that just shows how great Asian food is?
Claypot pork
I was a bit nervous about making the syrup, convinced I'd burn the pan, but I didn't.  It goes without saying though, don't leave it.
It was easy, though not quick, but it's time cooking, when you can get on with other things-watching the soaps in my case!
We had this with plain rice.

I have sinned!

I mentioned a week or so ago that I wanted takeaway, but had an empty purse.
I can make takeaway food, and I do, but sometimes, I want takeaway, real takeaway.
On Sunday night I couldn't sleep, I finally got to sleep at 6.30am so not surprisingly, I wasn't feeling too good yesterday.
My purse said I could have takeaway.
I could have arranged this to look prettier, and could have bunged some salad on the plate so it looked less junky, but that would be dishonest.
Besides, I wanted diiiirrrty food, and this was.
It hit the spot.
It's a munchy box, a cheeseburger and a prawn cocktail, and delicious it all was too.
Craving satisfied for 6 months or so!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Singapore Laksa

Tonight we were having macaroni cheese, a new recipe for me for it, from Valentine Warner, but Niamh has come down with a horrid cold, and asked for spicy.
I went straight for Rick Stein.
After flicking through it, I chose Singapore Laksa.
I still urge that you buy the book, and no, I don't work for Rick, but it's a brilliant book. Someone else has provided the recipe here
I will tell you though that Belacan (shrimp paste), smells utterly disgusting, really bad, but it adds a depth of flavour, and such an authentic taste, that it is worth using.
Of course leave it out if you want though.
I'm very lax with recipes, I chop and change them to suit all the time, in fact, it's rare that I use one exactly.

This was really spicy, just what Niamh needed, and we both loved it.
I'd say I'm steering clear of spicy/curry/Rick Stein for a while, to vary our food, and use other books, but I've ordered rosewater for his korma!


This is another old dish.
I bought the monkfish reduced (guess where from!) and even then, it still cost £9.  I'd only eaten it once before, when on holiday in Plockton with my Dad and he was paying.
I loved it, but it's so expensive which is why I'd never had it since, however, I couldn't resist it, and Niamh loves fish so much, and I love to treat her.
I didn't use a recipe for this, I seasoned it, then covered in lemon slices and oven baked, until just done.  I think it took around 30 minutes?
I served it with crispy bacon bits, cooked in their own fat, and then poured over, and some plain boiled new potatoes.
Sorry, I don't have a photo of the finished dish, just the oven ready fish.

Saturday, 9 June 2012


Years ago, and I do mean years, when I was 19, I used to occasionally go out to dinner with my parents to an Italian owned fish and chip cafe.
I'd always choose the calzone, my Dad would have the quatro staggioni, it was only my Mum who ever changed her order
Sometimes, I didn't go, but they'd bring me home a calzone.

I loved it, and had never had one since.
Now, I had the Takeaway Secret book, and that had a recipe for know where this is going!

I couldn't make the dough myself, as I don't do hand kneading, and my poor Kenwood is currently broken, so I bought this
No recipe needed really, just follow instructions for the dough, and add whatever you like.
Niamh had chorizo, mozzarella and cheddar in hers, I had anchovies, olives, capers, mozzarella and gouda.
Once folded, use beaten egg to seal the edges, then roll as shown in the first picture.


These were another Morrison's bargain.
I cooked them on my, then new, griddle pan, another Mother's day gift to myself!
They were just rubbed with seasoning and olive oil.  Fresh lemon juice was squeezed over before serving.  Simple salad on the side.
A lovely light meal.

Jamie's sausages and lentils

This is a dish I made a while back, just sorting through some old photos.
It's a bit different from the usual sausage and mash, or toad in the hole, and is really tasty.
Brilliant cold weather food, which, let's face it, is still often needed in June here!

Cambodian rice porridge (Bobor)

This was the Cambodian dish I'd wanted to try from Rick Stein.
I can't find it online specifically, you'll just have to buy the book! I did find this version though.  If you use this recipe then ignore all the meats except for the ground pork, or pork mince as it's known as in the UK.
This was amazing, and Niamh's new favourite.  The flavours are savoury and spicy and the soft rice makes it so comforting.  It would be brilliant when you have a cold, and need comfort food but spicy too.
I think I'm going to try the Bangladesh chapter next, so I can at least say I've made a dish from each chapter!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Sticky chicken drumsticks

Poking throughthe freezer, I came across half a pack of drumsticks, I'd used the other half to make salt and pepper drumsticks, and then looking through my bookmarks of recipes, I found this dish.
It's cooked in the slow cooker so put on in the morning and then can be forgotten about till dinner time.  I did rub the flavourings on the night before, but that took minutes.
With these, I did some oven baked wedges and cherry tomatoes.
They were going to be HFW's honey roast tomoatoes, but it seems I've run out of honey!
Sticky chicken drumsticks

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Niamh's chowder and muffins

Tonight was the first night of Niamh's regular Wednesday cook spot.
She chose the recipes herself-Prawn and sweetcorn chowder, from Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food, and Chilli cheese muffins, from Sam Stern's Get Cooking.
I can't find links to these online, but they were both really easy, Chopped veg and bacon in the soup, with stock and as we used cooked prawns, they were added at the last minute to heat through.
The muffins turned out really well, maybe Niamh has the baking gene that I don't?!
I was on hand to help out, but I'd say she did 95% herself.
I'm very proud of her.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012


I know what you're thinking.
It's June, why would anyone cook turkey?
I didn't, I cooked food from Turkey.
Imam bayildi, hummus, and carrot salad.  The title of the salad is far too long, and needs accents!
Grated carrot with yoghurt and garlic.
I really enjoyed this, I love aubergines, and the flavours were subtle, but there.
Niamh wasn't so keen, but ate most of it anyway.
It's eat it or go hungry here! (Not really)

Her turn to cook tomorrow, so I might be not keen on it!

Salmon burgers

I decided we were having a takeaway tonight.  Specifically chicken kebab and chips.
After checking my purse and finding it pretty empty though, I had to find an alternative, and it needed to be quick. I was shattered.
I had some salmon in the fridge, which I knew would last another day, but found this recipe for salmon burgers.
It's another Simon Rimmer.
I didn't use the basil, the flavour didn't appeal with salmon.
I also used a different mayo.  I mixed may with chopped spring onion, capers and gherkins, with lime juice.
The burgers went into buns with some salad leaves and the mayo.
I served these with more leaves, and some leftover raw beansprouts, with a dressing made from soy and sweet chilli sauce.
These were lovely, a much lighter take on traditional burgers, and I'm sure would be great on the barbie.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Chicken Tagine.

Until tonight, the only tagine I'd ever eaten involved sauce from a jar.
It was tasty, I won't say otherwise, and using jar and packet sauces is how I learned to cook, but I felt it was about time I made one from scratch.
For this I used a recipe from my Lonely Planet, World Food, Morroco book.
Again, I can't give it to you, for copyright reasons, but it was chicken thighs, onion, garlic, ground ginger, garlic, saffron, black pepper, preserved lemons, black olives and the dreaded (according to some!) chicken livers!
I cooked this all day in my slow cooker.
It didn't look like much, in fact, it looked fairly off putting but the smells were delicious.
I served this with cous cous, to which I added a couple of sliced tomatoes and a green pepper.
I'm afraid I picked the pepper out of mine, as I don't like it.  I put it in for Niamh.
We both loved this, the preserved lemons give a brilliant fresh flavour to an otherwise rich dish.

Vietnamese food

This was more food from Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey. Everything I've made from it so far has been a curry, all have been delicious, and wildly different, and all from different countries, but I wanted to try some non curry recipes.
I flicked through, and chose Vietnam, as I've only ever eaten Pho from Vietnam, and even then it was years ago, in Australia.
The recipes I chose were barbecued pork patties with noodles, chicken broth and salad greens (Bun Cha), and clams with beer, black beans and ginger.
First off, I rather stupidly made the chicken stock from scratch, and then strained it straight down the plughole. This is not the first time I've done this.  A good old stock cube was substituted, with the asian flavourings added and simmered.
I can't actually give you the recipe as it's copyrighted, and unfortunately doesn't seem to be online anywhere, but this was pork mince with added fish sauce, palm sugar, garlic, shallots and black pepper, made into small patties and in this case, cooked on a hot griddle pan.  No barbecue here as I'm in an upstairs flat.
 These are served in an asian chicken broth with rice noodles
 The salad didn't really use the recipe.  I used torn little gem lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced spring onions, torn mint, coriander and beansprouts.  The dressing was fish sauce, palm sugar and rice vinegar.
The clams are cooked in a paste of black bean paste, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and chilli, with lager as the liquid, fosters in this case!  They then have lime juice squeezed over.
This was a really flavoursome, healthy tasting meal.
We tend to think of Vietnamese food as slightly obscure here, at least in a small Scottish town, but all the ingredients are readily available.
I think I'm going to try some dishes from the Cambodian chapter next.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Garlic, cream fettucine with bacon and mushrooms

I got this from Jen's blog, well sort of.
I saw it on there and loved the look of it, but I actually own the book it's from-The Takeaway Secret.
I'd only cooked one dish from it though, as it's a small paperback book, with no pictures.  As pathetic as this sounds, I like big recipe books that I can prop open in the kitchen, with pictures to inspire me.
However, now that Jen had provided the photo, I could make it!
Recipe here
This was so easy to make, very quick too.  In fact next time Niamh has asked if she can cook it.  We've decided she's going to cook every Wednesday, so I'll let you know how she gets on.
It is very rich, but so tasty.  I think I'd do a salad with it next time, to cut through the richness, instead we just had an apple each afterwards!

Curry selection

We love curry here, in fact I keep vowing to steer clear of it for a while as we have it so often, but it never lasts long.
There's so many varieties, and because I have a really well stocked spice cupboard, I can make all sorts of interesting dishes without having to shop, so they seem really cheap.
I'd wanted to try a thoran for a while.  The concept of dry curries is quite new to me.  I'd actually chosen a beetroot one, since I've never cooked fresh beetroot, but couldn't find any in my small town, so went with cabbage instead.
I also tried mushroom pakora and defrosted a Sri Lankan tomato curry, that I'd made a while ago and frozen.  I added some green beans to this on reheating to add more veg.

The whole meal was delicious, the different curries, dry, crisp and saucy (ooer!) worked really well together, great contrast of textures, as well as flavours.
Niamh even enjoyed the cabbage, and she's not usually a fan