Friday, 30 April 2010

Stuffed Peppers

1 red pepper, halved and de-seeded
1 yellow pepper, halved and de-seeded
2 tbsp olive oil
300g Basmati rice, cooked according to packet instructions
150g mozzarella, diced

1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
1 lemon, juice and grated zest

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Place the pepper halves onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Mix together the herbs, cheese, rice, lemon juice and zest and use to fill the pepper halves.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the pepper is softened and the cheese melted.

Serve hot with garlic bread.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Crab and Cucumber Mousse


175g cucumber
2 sheets leaf gelatine, soaked in 3 tbsp warm water
250g crab meat
150ml mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
Dash of  Tabasco sauce
140ml double cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Cucumber slices to garnish

Peel the cucumber and chop very finely.

Place the gelatine in the water until softened.

Put the mayonnaise, gelatine, lemon juice, tomato ketchup, Tabasco sauce and salt and pepper in a food processor and blend for 15 seconds until smooth.

Add the cucumber and blend until smooth.

Whip the double cream until it stands in soft peaks then fold into the crab mixture with a metal spoon.

Spoon into 6-8 oiled ramekins and chill until set.

To serve dip the ramekins into hot water  and turn out.  Serve with salad leaves.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Lemon Meringue Cake

I thought I would try this cake instead of the usual Lemon Meringue Pie.  It has now become a firm favourite. We have tried it warm with ice-cream and cold with double cream and honestly can't make up our minds which we prefer.  I may have to make it again this week-end.


For the sponge

100g self raising flour
100g caster sugar
100g soft margarine
2 large eggs
1 lemon, juice and grated zest

Pre-heat the oven to 190C

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a hand held electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Line the base of an 8" oblong baking dish with greaseproof paper, pour in the cake mixture and bake for about 10-15 minutes until risen and golden.  Set aside to cool.

For the lemon filling

3 yolks from large eggs
10 fl oz water
2 tbsp cornflour
Zest and juice from 2 large lemons, or 4 small
30g butter
75g sugar

In a bowl, use a little of the water to mix together the sugar and cornflour.  Heat the rest of the water in a saucepan with the lemon zest, until just beginning to bubble.

Gradually add the hot water and zest to the cornflour mix whisking continuously, pour back in the pan and stir until thickened.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks, lemon juice and butter.  Set aside to cool.

For the Meringue

3 egg whites
150g sugar

Whisk the egg whites with a hand-held electric mixer until you reach the stiff peak stage.  Add the sugar 50g at a time mixing between each addition until the mixture is stiff and glossy.

Spread the sponge with the lemon filling and then the Meringue.  If you ate eating it warm place the cake in the oven at 190C for 6-7 minutes until the meringue is golden.  If you prefer it cool just place the dish under the grill for a couple of minutes to lightly brown.

Serve with ice-cream or double cream.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Malaysian Chicken Curry


1 kg chicken breast, cut to bite size pieces
1tbsp grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
150g natural yoghurt
2 onions, finely chopped
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 small tin pineapple, very finely chopped
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
75g creamed coconut
2 tbsp ground almonds
2 lemons , juice only
Coriander leaves to garnish

Mix the chicken with the garlic, yoghurt and ginger, marinate for 2 hours.

Blend the onions and chilli with a little water to form a paste.

Heat the oil and add the spices, cook for 1 minute, add the ginger and chilli paste and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add the chicken and stir fry for 10 minutes then add the coconut, a little water and ground almonds and simmer lightly for 30 minutes.  Taste and season with salt.

Stir in the lemon juice and pineapple and cook for 2 minutes until warmed through.

Serve with Basmati rice and garnish with coriander leaves.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Spinach and Cheese Pancake Cannelloni  V

Not a traditional Cannelloni made with beef mince and pasta, but delicious all the same. It's a great way to use up any left-over cheese

For the Pancakes

400 ml milk
150 ml water
220 g plain flour
4 eggs
4 tbsp butter, melted

Blend all the ingredients, except 1 tbsp of the melted butter, together using an electric, hand mixer.

Add 2tbsp melted butter to the mixture and whisk. Heat a 7in frying pan and brush with melted butter.

Add 1 tbsp of the pancake batter and spread over the surface of the pan, cook for 30 seconds and turn the pancake cook for a further 15 seconds, set aside to cool. Continue making pancakes until all the mixture is used.

For the Bechemel sauce

570 ml milk
50 g butter
35 g plain flour
1 Bay leaf
1/2 tbsp grated nutmeg
65ml double cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 190C/ gas 5

Place the milk, butter, flour, nutmeg and seasoning into a saucepan over a medium heat. Slowly bring it up to a simmer, stirring continuously, until the sauce has thickened. Simmer for 5 minutes and remove the Bay leaf, add the cream. Season to taste.

For the filling

500 g fresh spinach
1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced
150g ricotta
10g butter
150g blue cheese
60g Parmesan
Freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Wilt the spinach in the butter and drain

Chop the spinach and add the ricotta, blue cheese, Parmesan and a good grating of nutmeg.

Mix together and season with a little salt and freshly ground pepper.

Add the spring onion and 4 tbsp Bechemel sauce

Spoon some of the mixture onto each pancake, being careful not to overfill, roll up the pancakes to form an oblong shape, lay the rolled pancakes into an oven proof dish, pour over the Bechemel sauce and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbling.

Serve hot with salad.

Friday, 23 April 2010

A Book Review

Cooking Ingredients by Christine Ingram

A practical guide to choosing and using world foods

When I bought this book I thought "this might be a handy reference guide for my blog". Having now read it from cover to cover I can't think what I did without it.  It has become the star of my cookbook collection.

This beautifully illustrated encyclopaedia of ingredients covers everything from everyday foods to the more exotic ingredients that are now readily available.  There is even a guide to cookware and electrical equipment.

Each entry contains a detailed description of the varieties, appearance, flavour and aroma of the ingredient and offers essential advice on preparation and uses.  There is also illustrated step by step instruction for techniques.

The cheese section is unbelievable, 78 pages long and covers cheeses from all over the world including 40 British cheeses.  There is information on region, origin, colour, taste, culinary uses and whether it is suitable for vegetarians.  It made me want to order a lorry load of crackers and break open the chutney.

Eggs, dairy products and fats  This section includes eggs, milk, cream, yoghurt, butter and margarine, with recipes for pastry, home-made yoghurt and making flavoured butters.
Fish and shellfish  A comprehensive guide to exotic fish, oily fish, deep sea game fish and many more.  Illustrated instruction for everything from preparing monk fish to boning a kipper.  The shellfish section has 20 pages of crustaceans, molluscs, cephalopods (squid octopus and cuttle fish) and other edible sea creatures.

Other chapters include:
Meat poultry and game
Beans, lentils, peas and grains
Pasta, noodles and wrappers
Fruit, nuts and seeds
Herbs and spices
Condiments, flavourings and oils
Tea, coffee, chocolate and sweeteners

The colour photographs are what makes this book so compelling, it's so much nicer to see both familiar and unfamiliar ingredients than just reading about them.  I would give this book 10/10

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Seasonal recipe of the week

Leek and Tarragon Potato Cakes

Leeks are in season and they go so well with Tarragon and potatoes.  Serve these tasty potato cakes with fish, chicken, bacon or just on their own with a creamy cheese sauce.


400g potatoes, peeled and cut to even sized pieces
2 medium sized leeks, white only, washed and sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp crème fraiche
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
Small handful fresh Tarragon, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Sunflower oil for frying
2 tbsp plain flour

Boil the potato pieces in salted water for 20-25 minutes until tender, drain and keep warm.

Place the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the leeks, cook, stirring continually for 5 minutes until softened, add the spring onions and garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes.

Add the Tarragon and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for 1 more minute.

Add the crème fraiche to the potatoes and mash them by hand or use a hand-held electric mixer.  When they are smooth taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary,  stir in the leek mixture and mix well.

Form into patties using a heaped tbsp of the mixture, coat each one with flour and shake off the excess.

Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan and cook the potato cakes for 4 minutes each side until golden brown.  Drain on kitchen paper.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Honey Carrot Cake


4 large carrots,grated
250g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
125g sugar
3 tbsp honey,(set works better than runny)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5 tbsp sunflower oil
13 oz can pineapple, drained and finely chopped
25g chopped walnuts


Grease and line a 7" round cake tin

Pre-heat the oven to 180C / 350F / gas 4

In a large bowl, sift the flour, salt, bicarb, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Pour the cake mixture into the tin and bake, on the middle shelf of the oven, for 35-40 minutes.

Test by pushing a skewer into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean (no raw mixture) the cake is ready.

Cool on a wire rack.

For the icing

300g icing sugar
80g cream cheese
25g butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, gradually add the icing sugar, beating between each addition, add a little more icing sugar if the icing is too soft.

Cut the cake in half horizontally  and sandwich together with 2 tbsp of the icing and use the remainder to cover the outside of the cake.

Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Taramasalata with White Crusty Bread

Home- made Taramasalata is much nicer than shop bought and very easy to make, it can also be used as a dip, or a spread for canapés.  

The crusty bread recipe is one of Delia's.   I have used it for years it's very easy and never fails to please, so don't expect any to be left-over for tomorrow's toast

For the crusty bread

700g strong white bread flour
level tbsp salt
level tsp easy blend yeast
level tsp caster sugar
425 ml hand-hot water
Pre-heat the oven to its lowest setting.

Warm the flour in the oven for about 10 minutes, then turn the oven off.

Sift the flour, salt, yeast and sugar into a bowl, make a well in the centre of the mixture, then add the water. Mix to a dough, Use a wooden spoon and then your hands, add a spot more water if there are any dry bits. Wipe the bowl clean with the dough and transfer it to a flat work surface.

Knead the dough for 3 minutes or until it shines (it should also be springy and elastic). Return the dough to the bowl , cover it with clingfilm that has been lightly oiled on the side that is facing the dough. Leave it until it has doubled in bulk, about 2 hours at room temperature.

Then knock the air out, and knead again for 2 minutes. Divide the dough in half, pat each piece out to an oblong, then fold one end into the centre and the other in on top.

Put each one into a buttered tin, sprinkle each with a dusting of flour, then place them side by side in an oiled polythene bag until the dough rises above the tops of the tins,about an hour at room temperature.

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 8, 450°F (230°C).

Bake the loaves on the centre shelf for 30-40 minutes, until they sound hollow when the base is tapped.
Return them, out of their tins, upside-down to the oven to crisp the base and side crust for about 5 minutes, then place on a cooling tray.


125g smoked cods roe
4 slices bread, crusts removed
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic
150ml olive oil  

Black olives and lemon slices to garnish

Cube the bread and place it in a food processor or blender along with the cods roe, lemon juice and garlic.  Blend for 10-15 seconds, until smooth.

With the motor running, slowly pour in the oil and blend for a couple of seconds.

Spoon into a serving bowl, garnish with olives and lemon and serve with crusty bread.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Crunchy Fried Chicken 
with Waldorf Style Salad


8 chicken portion, thighs and drumsticks, skinned
3 slices seeded brown bread, made into crumbs
2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper
1 handful cornflakes, crushed
Sunflower oil to shallow fry

Heat about 1/2" of oil in a heavy frying pan, over a medium heat.

Mix together the breadcrumbs and crushed cornflakes, season with salt and pepper.

Dip the chicken first in the flour then in the beaten egg and finally into the breadcrumbs.

Fry the chicken over a medium heat for about 15 minutes, turning it over every 2 minutes, until it is golden brown and cooked through.

Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately with the salad

Tip:  For spicy chicken add 1tbsp curry powder to the seasoned flour.

For the salad

50g walnuts, chopped
1 pear, cored and chopped
1 apple, cored and chopped
3 sticks celery, chopped
Baby gem lettuce leaves

1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp soured cream
4 tbsp ready made mayonnaise
Salt and pepper

Mix together the mustard, soured cream and mayonnaise.  Add the apple, walnuts, celery and pear, fold through the lettuce and season to taste.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

French Onion Soup


600g onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
10 fl oz medium dry white wine
Salt and pepper
50g butter
1 litre vegetable stock
Small drizzle maple syrup

6 slices French bread
220g grated Gruyère cheese

Heat the butter and oil over a moderate heat and add the onions and garlic, caramelise over a low heat for 20-25 minutes.

Add the vegetable stock and wine and simmer with a lid for around 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the soup into a flame proof tureen.  Drizzle with a little maple syrup. Cover  the slices of bread with the grated cheese and float them on top of the soup.  Place under the grill until the cheese has melted and serve immediately.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Stuffed Mushrooms with Stilton

Great for a starter served with salad leaves or an accompaniment to chicken.

8 large open cup mushrooms 
4 tbsp melted butter
Bread crumbs, made with 2 slices seeded bread
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp olive oil
1 crushed garlic clove
100g stilton cheese, crumbled
1/2 glass white wine
1 medium onion, finely chopped

Remove mushroom stems and chop. Brush the mushrooms with melted butter lay them on a buttered baking sheet and set aside. Sauté chopped stems, onions, and garlic in oil. Mix other dry ingredients. Add them to melted butter with the Stilton and wine in a sauce pan and stir together. Mold a small amount on the cap. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F.

Serve warm.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Spaghetti with Spicy Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

This is a great midweek supper and the meatballs are not too spicy so children will love them.

For the meatballs

500g lean minced beef
1 slice brown bread, made into crumbs
50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 green chilli, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 x  400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp tomato purée
Small handful torn basil

500g dried spaghetti, cooked according to the packet instructions.

In a large bowl, mix the minced beef, half the onion, the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and chilli.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Bind together with some beaten egg.

Form the mince mixture into balls using 1 tbsp of the mixture at a time. Coat them with flour, shaking off any excess.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a heavy saucepan and cook the meatballs over a medium heat, for 10 minutes.  Turn them 2 or three times during cooking.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the remainder of the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes until softened, add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.  Add the tinned tomatoes, the tomato purée and 4 fl oz water.  Bring up to a simmer and cook gently for 5 minutes, add the sugar and season with salt and pepper, stir in the basil and add the sauce to the meatballs.

Gently stir them together and serve warm over spaghetti.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Lemon Sponge Cake 
with Home-made Lemon Curd

For the lemon curd


Grated rind and juice of 1 large lemon
75g caster sugar
2 large eggs
50g unsalted butter

Place the grated rind and sugar in a bowl. In another bowl whisk the lemon juice with the eggs, then pour this mixture over the sugar. Add the butter cut into little pieces, and place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir frequently until thickened, about 20 minutes. Then cool the curd and use it to sandwich together the lemon sponge cake

For the sponge

150 g self raising flour
150 g soft margarine
150 g golden caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
1 lemon, zest and juice

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a hand-held electric mixer, until light and fluffy.

Split the mixture between 2 x 7" sponge tins lined with greaseproof paper and bake near the top of the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden and springy to the touch.

Leave the sponges in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool while you make the icing.

For the icing

150 g icing sugar
Lemon juice
A little yellow colouring (add a drop at a time until you have the colour you want, I added 1 drop too many)

Add the lemon juice gradually to the icing sugar until you have a pouring consistency (not too thin).

Sandwich the sponge together with lemon curd then pour over the icing and let it dribble down the sides.

Decorate with lemon zest or edible flowers.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Apologies, yesterdays Spaghetti Carbonara recipe should have read, 40 g prosciutto ham, not 400.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Spaghetti Carbonara

500g pack of spaghetti 
Salt and freshly ground pepper
200g finely grated parmesan
4 egg yolks
400ml double cream
40g Prosciutto ham, cut into very small strips
Parsley to garnish

 Bring a large pan of water to the boil, salt it well and put in the pasta.

 While the pasta cooks, put the Parmesan, egg yolks and cream into a very large bowl. Season and whisk together.

 As soon as the pasta is cooked, drain it, then tip it into the bowl.

 Add the Prosciutto ham and quickly toss everything together using two forks. The egg will be cooked by the heat of the pasta, and the creamy sauce will cling to the strands. Serve straight away, with more grated Parmesan.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

  • Chocolate Macaroons

  • 100 g blanched whole almonds
  • 700 g icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Whites from 3 large eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 4 fl oz double cream
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 125 g  dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 100 g unsalted butter, softened
Pre-heat the oven 200C / 400F / gas 6.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Pulse the almonds and 500 g icing sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add cocoa and remaining icing sugar pulse until well blended.
Beat egg whites and salt in a large bowl with mixer on medium-high speed until whites form soft peaks when beaters are lifted. Add granulated sugar and beat just until stiff peaks form when beaters are lifted. With a whisk or rubber spatula, gently fold in almond mixture. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe 1-in.-diam mounds about 2 in. apart on prepared baking sheets.
Bake, 1 sheet at a time, 6 to 8 minutes, until tops look dry but macaroons are still slightly soft to the touch.
Transfer, still on parchment or foil, to barely dampened kitchen towels. Let cool 5 minutes. Carefully peel paper off macaroons and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Sandwich with chocolate spread and gently press together

Friday, 9 April 2010

Vegetarian Fast Food

Quick Bean Casserole with Courgette Fritters


1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 x 410g tin butter beans
1 x 200g tin Aduki beans
1 x 200g tin Haricot beans
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until softened.  Add the chilli, paprika and garlic, stir well and cook for a further 2 minutes.  Pour in the tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add the beans and chopped parsley, season and mix well.  Simmer for 5-6 minutes.

For the courgette fritters

2 courgettes, skin on, cut into diagonal slices around 1/8" thick
25g plain flour + 1tbsp to coat the courgettes
25g cornflour
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
ice-cold water
sunflower oil for frying

Make the batter by sifting the dry ingredients together, add enough iced water to make a batter thick enough to coat the courgettes.

Heat the oil over a medium heat, when it is hot enough a drop of batter will float to the top.

Coat the courgette slices in flour and shake off any excess.  Dip into the batter and then into the hot oil.  Cook until the batter is crisp and golden and drain on kitchen paper.

Serve immediately with the bean casserole and a spoonful of soured cream.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Lime and Garlic Chicken
with Creamy Coriander sauce


4 chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, crushed
50g unsalted butter
2 tsp ground coriander
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 limes, juice and finely grated zest

For the sauce

125ml double cream
225g block creamed coconut
225g fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
125ml full cream milk

For the glaze

Finely grated juice and zest of 3 limes
1 tsp soft light brown sugar

Mix the zest and juice of 2 limes with the garlic, butter and ground coriander.

Cover each chicken breast with cling  film and lightly flatten with a rolling pin.  Cover both sides of the chicken breast with the butter mixture then roll up and cover tightly in tin foil.  Chill for 30 minutes then cook in a pre-heated oven at 190C / 375F / gas 5 for 30-35 minutes.

For the coriander sauce

Place the milk and creamed coconut in a saucepan and heat gently until the coconut has dissolved.  Add the coriander leaves and cook for 10 minutes.  Puree in a blender then stir in the cream and reheat gently.

For the lime glaze

Heat the lime juice and zest with the sugar Unwrap the chicken and pour the juices into the pan with the lime mixture.  Reduce to a glaze and spoon it over the chicken.

Serve with the creamy coriander sauce, some long grain rice and a wedge of lime.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Seasonal Food of the Week


Spring is in the air and watercress is in season, what better time to fill up on all those vitamins and minerals found in watercress.

Watercress is brimming with over 15 vitamins and minerals, gram for gram containing more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk and more iron than spinach.

It is also a fantastic salad leaf. Its plump, vibrant leaves  taste wonderfully peppery  and is delicious when mixed into a light salad, sizzling stir fry and wholesome soup.

Try these recipes for a light lunch of watercress soup or a tasty dinner of Char grilled tuna with a delicious watercress Salsa Verde.

Watercress Soup

1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
250g potatoes, peeled and diced
600ml chicken stock
2 x 85g bags of watercress, roughly chopped
25ml crème fraiche
a little milk if needed
Salt and black pepper

In a large pan, cook the onion in the oil until soft.
Add the potatoes and stock and cook until the potatoes are soft (approx 15-20 minutes). When potatoes are almost cooked, add the watercress (try to allow not longer than 5 minutes cooking time for the watercress). Liquidise, add the crème fraiche. Use a little extra milk if the soup seems too thick. Season with salt and black pepper and serve hot.

Char Grilled Tuna with Salsa Verde

4 (100g) fresh tuna steaks
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp ground Szechuan pepper
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp capers, drained
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped

For the Salsa Verde

1 (85g) bag watercress
2 tbsp fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp olive oil

Place the tuna steaks on a plate, mix together the lemon juice, pepper and oil and pour over the fish. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes, turning once.

To make the salsa verde, place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender with 2tbsp cold water and blend to form a smooth paste. Season to taste.

Heat a large griddle pan and when hot add the tuna steaks. Cook for 5-6 minutes, turning once until the fish is char grilled on both sides but still a little pink in the middle. Sit a spoonful of the chopped tomato and capers on top when you have turned the tuna, there should be enough heat to warm it through during the remainder of the cooking time.   Serve with the salsa verde and a salad.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Spinach and Gruyère Puff Pastry Turnovers

2 sheets ready made puff pastry, each sheet cut into 4 squares
1 egg, beaten
1tbsp butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
250g Gruyère cheese, grated
150g spinach
A good grating of nutmeg
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp double cream
1 tsp English mustard

Heat the butter in a large pan and soften the chopped shallot add the spinach and cook  until wilted, drain into a sieve and set aside to drain off any excess liquid.

Put the spinach and shallot in a bowl and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, add the cream and mustard and mix well.

Add the cheese and mix to combine.

Pre-heat the oven to 220C /  425F / gas 7

Brush the edges of the puff pastry squares with beaten egg and divide the filling between them, fold the pastry over to form a triangle and press all the edges together.  Cut a couple of slits on top of each turnover and brush the tops with the remainder of the beaten egg.

Place the pastries on a baking tray in the centre of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until risen and golden.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Chocolate Chocolate and More Chocolate

Use up some of those chocolate eggs and with the help of the children, create these tea-time treats.  What a great way to spend some time together over the Easter holidays. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Moist Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Nut Clusters

Chocolate Chip Cookies

The smell of chocolate chip cookies baking, is almost as good as the taste. Eaten just warm, they are an absolute treat. Why not make double the recipe quantity and keep some in an airtight container, they should keep for around 5 days. Or freeze half the cookie dough for another day.


160g plain flour
115g unsalted butter, softened
1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g granulated sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
70g light Muscovado sugar
1/2tsp vanilla extract


Put the butter and sugars in a large bowl and beat with an electric hand whisk, until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the vanilla and egg.

Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt together, then add to the creamed mixture, with the chocolate chips. Combine to form a soft dough.

Lightly grease 2 baking trays. Put tablespoons of the mixture on the tray, spacing well apart and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave on the baking trays for 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Moist Chocolate Cake

The ultimate in chocolate desserts, this is a cross between a cake and a mousse. Its made with best quality dark chocolate and ground almonds and it has a slightly moist squidgy centre. This cake will sink when it comes out of the oven. It is meant to be gooey on the centre with a crunchy crust on the outside, a bit like a chocolate brownie.


4 eggs
225g caster sugar
1/2tsp vanilla extract
150g dark chocolate, preferably 70% cocoa solids
125g unsalted butter
50ml water
25g plain flour
50g ground almonds
cocoa powder to dust
whipped cream to serve
Chocolate curls to decorate


Preheat the oven to 170C/320F/gas 3

Grease and line a 7in loose bottomed cake tin.

Using a hand held electric whisk, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.

Put the chocolate, butter and water in a large bowl, and heat over a pan of simmering water. When they are all melted, stir gently together.

Using a metal spoon, gently fold the creamed mixture into the chocolate mixture. Stir in the almonds and the flour. Pour into the tin and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Dust with icing sugar or cocoa powder and serve with whipped cream.

Chocolate Nut Cluster Cups

200 g milk chocolate
210 g flaked almonds, toasted
95 g raisins
75 g dried apricot, finely chopped

Melt the chocolate over a pan of barely simmering water.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix to combine

Spoon the mixture into cake cups or a greased bun tin and leave to set in the fridge.

Seafood Paella

Paella is the taste of Summer for me.  As soon as the sun is out so is the paella pan. I cooked this one on the hob, using two burners but i...