Tag Archives: Cooking

Tomatillo Taste

What does a Tomatillo taste like to you?

I have only tried it when I have been on holiday in Mexico & Miami, with it being served as Salsa Verde but now I am growing my own I have taken to trying any that fall off or get ripped off by the dogs.

So to me they taste like…… STATIC! Yes I know strange..

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Simple Fish Pie

Fish Pie

Yes I know it seems like all I ever eat is pie.. But this is more like fish with mashed potato 🙂

Its a sad day when I make Fish Pie for one but that’s what I wanted for dinner and I was on my own so I decided to make an individual pie in one of my terracotta baking dishes, they really are handy as everything get cooked through and it retains its heat for a long time so even if you are a slow eater it stays hot unlike when you ladle a dollop of pie onto a plate and its cold in 5 minutes!

Hot!

Ingredients (for 1)

  • 100 Grams Firm White Fish (I used Hake which I don’t recommend! Pollock or Coley work well or Line Caught Cod)
  • 10 Smallish Prawns (not tiny Shrimp but not Jumbo either-I used Frozen)
  • 10 Mussels, out of their shells, cooked (I used Frozen)
  • 10 Capers, drained of their brine
  • 1 Tbs Fresh Parsley
  • 15 grams Butter
  • 15 grams Plain White Flour
  • 300ml Milk
  • 1 Portion of Mashed Potato
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 15 grams Cheddar, grated
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 5 grams MORE Butter!

Method

  1. If using frozen shell fish- allow these to thaw
  2. Place White Fish in a pan with Milk & Bay Leaf, season lightly. Poach over low heat with lid on until fish is JUST turned white
  3. Remove Fish to a plate and allow to cool. Reserve Milk for your sauce (discard Bay Leaf)!
  4. In a small saucepan melt Butter with Flour until you have a Roux
  5. Slowly add the Milk (used to poach the fish) whisking until it is all incorporated. Bring to the boil & reduce till a simmer, stirring till thickened.
  6. Remove from heat
  7. Flake White Fish
  8. Add White Fish, Prawns, Mussels, Capers, Parsley & remaining Butter- mix well (but gently you don’t want to break the fish up)
  9. Sprinkle over Paprika
  10. Season to Taste
  11. Prepare your Mashed Potato, I just add Butter & Seasoning. Then stir in 1 Egg Yolk!

Roux

White Sauce

Assembly

  • Preheat Oven to Gas Mark 6
  • Grease your individual casserole dish with Butter or Olive Oil
  • Spoon in filling
  • Using a piping bag pipe over Mashed Potato (or spoon it on then fork over the top to create peaks)
  • Sprinkle over grated cheese
  • Bake in the oven for approx 25-30 mins till Golden & Bubbling (remember your ingredients were all cooked through anyway!)

NB

This was a simple fish pie using the ingredients I had in the fridge, freezer & cupboards.

If you want to make a special fish pie I would (and do generally!) add the following:

  • A Flaked Smoked Fish Fillet- I normally use Smoked Haddock but you could use Smoked Salmon
  • 1/2 a Chopped Boiled Egg Per person
  • 2 Chopped Cornichons Per Person
  • Some Fresh Dill/Tarragon or Chervil

Please note my piping is atrocious in the photos I need a new piping set & I was using a children’s one! If you pipe the mash it goes really crispy, ditto the egg yolk makes the mash really crisp!



Chicken & Mushroom Pie

Chicken Pie with Suet & Flaky Pastry

 

Sometimes I just feel like eating a simple pie- in fact most of the time I’d rather it without loads of Herbs, Spices & Wine.. I want a pie like they sell in the supermarket! So I make this..

Normally I use Frozen Short Crust Pastry for the base & Frozen Puff Pastry for the lid but as I had a bit of time on my hands I decided to try out Delia Smith‘s ‘Quick & Easy Flaky Pastry’ which I mentioned before in my Pie, Mash & Liquor post. It really is a good recipe & very simple- I will use it again. And I made a simple Suet Pastry for the base.. I love Suet Pastry as I love Dumplings!

Ingredients

For the Flaky Pastry

http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/pastry/quick-and-easy-flaky-pastry.html

 

Frozen Butter

Sifted Flour

 

 

Grated Butter

 

 

Flaky Pastry- Ready

 

 

For the Suet Pastry (Pie Bottom)

  • 350g Self Raising Flour
  • 190g Shredded Suet (Atora is the brand available here in Tempo! Beef or Vegetable)
  • Cold Water (use your judgement!)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

Method

  1. Sift the Self Raising Flour & Salt into a large mixing bowl
  2. Mix in the Suet
  3. Add a few drops of cold Water mixing with a knife
  4. Keep adding water until you have a sticky dough
  5. Now use your hands to finish the dough- it should be smooth, neither sticky nor dry & leave the bowl clean (add a drop more water or a sprinkle of flour to correct if necessary)
  6. Allow the pastry to rest, covered in the fridge for 30 mins
~When you need the pastry it should be rolled to approx 2 or 3mm thickness~

Suet

Line with Suet Pastry

For the Pie Filling

  • 300g Chicken, Skinless Boneless Thighs (I only had Breast & it tends to dry out)- cubed
  • 1/4 White Onion, Chopped finely
  • 4 Standard White Mushrooms, Chopped
  • 25g Butter
  • 25g Corn Flour
  • 1.5 Cups Milk
  • 1 Tbs Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tsp Yeast Extract (Marmite)
  • 1 Tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 Tsp Chicken Bouillon Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Glucose Syrup
  • Salt & White Pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat Butter, Fry Chicken until it loses most of its pink colour
  2. Add Onions & Mushrooms, Fry for a few minutes until softening but do not allow to colour
  3. Sprinkle over Corn Flour, mix well
  4. Add Chicken Bouillon & Onion Powder, mix well
  5. Add Milk, bring to the boil till sauce thickens, reduce heat to low
  6. Add Cream
  7. Add Yeast Extract & Glucose Syrup, mix well
  8. Season to taste
  9. Leave to cool slightly before filling Pie

 

Fry Chicken

Add Cornflour

Add Heavy Cream

Add Yeast Extract

Finished

 

Assemble Pie

  1. Pre heat oven to 200 oc/ Gas Mark 6
  2. Grease Pie Dish with Butter- I used 2 Terracotta Dishes which each hold a Man Sized Portion of pie!
  3. Roll out Suet Pastry & Line Pie Dish- Making sure the dough hangs over the lip, trim off excess
  4. Spoon in pie filling, don’t fill right to the top!
  5. Roll out Flaky Pastry, cut out a circle (or square!) a bit bigger than your pie dish
  6. Wet the Suet Pastry covering the lip of the pie dish with some Cold Water
  7. Cover with Flaky Pastry lid, seal well around the edges & prick a few holes with a sharp knife
  8. Brush with Milk or Egg
  9. Cook in Oven for 30- 40 mins, until brown & piping hot
  10. Either lever whole pie out of dish to serve on a plate/spoon some pie out onto a plate or eat directly out of individual dish

 

Fill Pie

Out of the Oven

 

 

NB

Leek instead of Onion is a nice alternative


Thai Chicken Stir Fry with Chilli & Basil


Ingredients

Method

  1. Heat Oil, add Chicken Pieces & Fry for a few minutes until they lose most of their pink colour
  2. Add Garlic, Onions, Carrots, Chillies & Beans & Fry for 2 minutes- don’t let the garlic or onions colour
  3. Stir in Cornflour, mix well
  4. Add Soy Sauce, Oyster Sauce & Sugar
  5. Add 1/4 Cup Water, stir, bring to the boil until sauce has thickened to a ‘gravy’
  6. Reduce heat & simmer until Chicken & Veg are cooked through
  7. Stir in torn Basil Leaves
  8. Check Seasoning & add Salt if necessary
  9. Serve with Rice

Ingredients

Stir Fry

'Gravy'

NB

If you want more ‘gravy’ with the stir fry you can add more corn flour/water

Omit the Chilli if you don’t like spicy food!

Close Up


Breakfast Oven Casserole

Ready

Or Strata if you want to sound classy

This will be Breakfast for 2 people in the morning which I think is quite greedy- I tried to use just 4 Eggs but it didn’t fill the dish well enough, detox Monday! If you had more guests you could add extra ingredients but I think 6 eggs is sufficient for 4 people 🙂

Ingredients

6 Eggs

5 Slices of Crusty Bread, Sliced (I used a stale seeded loaf)

1 Cup Milk OR 1/2 Cup Milk & 1/2 Cup Double Cream

2 Breakfast Sausages, Sliced into bite sized pieces (I used Chicken Frankfurters as that’s all I have but would have rather Pork Breakfast Sausage)

2 Streaky Bacon Rashers, Chopped up OR Pancetta Cubes

2 Tomatoes, Chopped into wedges

4 Mushrooms, Sliced

1 Tbs Fresh Parsley, Chopped

1 Tbs Fresh Chives, Chopped

1 Cup Gouda Cheese, Grated

Salt & Pepper

Grated Gouda

Method

  1. Grease an oven proof dish (I will check the size of mine & add this later)
  2. Cover the base of the dish with Sliced Bread
  3. Fry Bacon till crisp- tip over the Bread
  4. Fry Sausage pieces till cooked- tip over the Bacon
  5. Fry Mushrooms till brown- tip over the Sausages
  6. Fry Tomatoes till starting to brown at the edges- tip over the Mushrooms
  7. Sprinkle Chopped Herbs over
  8. Sprinkle Grated Cheese over
  9. Lightly beat Eggs in a jug
  10. Add the Milk & Season well with Salt & Pepper
  11. Pour this over everything in the casserole dish
  12. Refrigerate over night
  13. Pre heat oven to 180 oc/ 350 f
  14. Bake for 30 mins (until Egg mixture is cooked through)

Bread Layer

Sprinkle Herbs

Pour Eggs Over

Brunch

NB

I enjoyed this for Brunch, just a shame the grill isn’t working as i would have liked the top to go crispy!

Try to arrange the ingredients so they are equally spread out as you will be dividing it up and you want a bit of each ingredient in your piece!

You can substitute other kind of Sausage & Cheese, you can use Bread Cubes instead of Slices, you could add other Herbs, Spring Onions, Bell Peppers– whatever you like! I wanted to add Potato but didn’t have any 😦

Next I will try this in the slow cooker!



I Didn’t Know Sprouting Is So Popular!

I have noticed people searching for information on Sprouting so I thought I’d give a quick update to say I have Black Eyed Beans/Peas in soak now so I shall start them off sprouting in my BioSnacky Jar in the morning and I also have some White Beans in soak, that is all it says on the packet so I am not sure which white bean they are I will have to do some Google searches for images! I thought they may be Cannellini Beans but looking at photos of them they have a pink hue..

And just to re cap don’t sprout Kidney Beans (I noticed one search for that came up in my Blog Stats!)

Black Eyed Beans/Peas

White Beans

Today I managed to buy (on the Greek Side, Carrefour) a few new beans to try sprouting; Adzuki, Soya & Flageolet. They had lots of others I will try next time like Puy Lentils. I also restocked on Mung Beans!

I have the Adzuki & Soya Beans soaking now..

Soya Beans Soak

 

Soya Beans Start to Sprout

I let the Soya Beans sprout longer & I think this made them too tough- I just threw them on the vegetable patch! I think I will try them again but in a colander with a weight pressing down (like with Mung Beans)..

 

Adzuki Beans Soak

Adzuki Beans are still in the Bio Snacky jar- I’m not sure about these! I keep trying them but they aren’t my favourite..

The White Beans don’t seem to be doing very well, I have moved them to a colander as maybe they are cramped in the jam jar, a few of them are just starting to bulge where the sprout will be.. ** Well as an update they started to smell bad & I threw them away, I wonder if they had been treated which stopped them from growing **

White Beans in Colander

The Black Eye Beans/Peas are doing well, I went through picking the skins off as they are floating about when I rinse them, I ate a couple that were ready- they are nice..

Black Eyed Beans Some with Sprouts

Black Eyed Bean Sprout

 

Chick Peas- Good Size Sprouts

 

 

Chick Peas- Sprouted too Long

 

 

I can see why Chick Peas are one of the mostly popular sprouts.. I don’t even like Chick Peas normally but sprouted they taste different! They are nice raw on salad or also boiled for 5 minutes to have hot.. Don’t sprout them for too long, they tasted best when the sprouts were quite small!

This week I am going to try Flageolet Beans


Mini Pie and Mash

Tea Spoon

I had some of the Flaky Pastry left in the freezer along with Suet Pastry I made the other week so I thought I’d get these out & try making some Mini Pies in my Cupcake 12 hole tin. I used my same Pie and Mash Recipe that I have already written about but this time I used Lamb Mince as I also had some of that leftover. I couldn’t taste any difference so I think the moral of the story is use Beef as its cheaper and under all the Vinegar who is going to know what animal is in the pie!

Oh and I thought ‘I’ll just leave those for a few more minutes’ and wandered off, forgot about them & came back to find them a bit burnt, still I suppose they are more authentic that way!

And the Bain Marie is a must in future, I didn’t use a tray filled with water like last time and the suet pastry doesn’t stay as soft as last time..


Moussaka

There are lots of different recipes for Moussaka available- some with Potato, some without Potato. Some with Potato on top, some with Potato at the bottom. Some have Lamb, some have Beef.. Its a bit like Lasagne in that respect- everyone has ‘their’ version & these recipes create much debate on food forums across the internet! Well I don’t claim to know the answer, I have simply put together the bits I like and left outs the bits I’m not so keen on & hopefully I have made it look simple as its not a very difficult dish to prepare but lots of recipes for it that I have read seem a bit daunting.. Let me know what you think!

Mini Cocotte

 

Ingredients (Serves 4-6 Depending on your Greed!)

4 Potatoes, Par Boiled & Sliced into Rounds

500g Lamb Mince (use Beef if preferred)
2 Medium Yellow Onions, Finely Chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, Finely Chopped
1 Tbsp Fresh Parsley, Chopped
1 Tbsp Fresh Mint, Chopped
1/4 tsp Dried Oregano
1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground All Spice
1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
1/3 Cup/80ml Red Wine
1/2 Cup Lamb (or Beef) Stock
1 Cup Tinned Tomatoes, Chopped
2 Tbs Tomato Puree
Salt & Pepper, to Taste

More Chop Chopping!

For The Bechamel Topping

35g Butter
35g Plain White Flour
275ml Whole Milk
1/4 Tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 Large Egg
1 Bay Leaf
1 Tbs Parmesan, Grated
Method

For The Aubergines:

  • First you need to remove any bitterness that may be lurking in the Aubergines- to do this, remove the stalks (leave the skin on) and slice them lengthways into 1cm thick pieces
  • Place these into a colander & sprinkle with salt
  • Put a small plate on top of the aubergines & something heavy on top of the plate (I used a small heavy bottomed saucepan)
  • Put a plate under the colander to collect the liquid from the Aubergines- Leave them for one hour
  • Pre Heat the Oven to Gas Mark 7, 220oc
  • Rinse the Aubergines & dry thoroughly with a clean tea towel
  • Cover a baking sheet with the Aubergine Slices, drizzle with 1 Tbs of Olive Oil & place them in the oven for 30 mins
  • Remove to a plate lined with Paper Towels to absorb excess oil

Salted!

Bye Bye Bitterness

Bronzed

For The Meat Sauce:

  • Heat a Large frying pan & brown Lamb Mince (I didn’t use any Oil as the Lamb releases fat as its cooking)
  • Tip the Lamb into a colander & let the excess fat drain off
  • Meanwhile tip the Onions & Garlic into the pan you just fried the Mince in & gently soften in the residual oil
  • Tip the Lamb back into the pan with the Onions & Garlic- stir well to combine
  • Add the Fresh & Dried Herbs/Spices
  • Add the Tinned Tomatoes & Tomato Puree
  • Add the Red Wine & Lamb Stock
  • Season to Taste & simmer for 20 mins or until almost all of the Liquid has evaporated
  • Set aside for later

Good Consistency

For The Topping

  • Place Flour, Butter, Bay Leaf & Nutmeg in a pan- Slowly using a Whisk add the Milk, keep whisking until smooth & thickened
  • Turn the heat to Low, cook for 5 mins- Throw away the Bay Leaf & Season with Salt & Pepper
  • Place to one side to cool slightly, then Whisk in the Egg till perfectly combined

Assembly

  • Preheat Oven to Gas Mark 5, 190oc
  • Line the base of your Casserole Dish with a layer of Potatoes
  • Cover the Potatoes with a layer of Meat Sauce
  • Cover the Meat Sauce with a layer of Aubergines
  • Do another layer of Meat Sauce
  • Then finish with a layer of Aubergines
  • Spoon the Topping over & cover with Grated Cheese
  • Place in the oven for 45 mins (or until the topping has puffed up & turned brown)
  • Leave to cool for 10 mins before serving
  • Serve with a Simple Salad, dressed with Olive Oil & Lemon Juice

Potato Slices

Mince Layer

Aubergine Layer

Topping

Top with Cheese

Golden Brown

Layered

Moussaka & Salad

Season & Dress

NB

A 250g tub of Ricotta cheese added to your Topping Mix before assembly gives a nice rich Moussaka

A handful of Breadcrumbs sprinkled over your Topping before baking adds some texture

Experiment with different Herbs- Fresh Mint goes nicely with Lamb



Eggs en cocotte

Breakfast for The Kids (me)

The best Egg & Soldiers ever.. No annoying shell, No wasted Egg, No Chance of Under of Over doing it..

 

Bit of a Wobbler


Ingredients (Serves 1)

1 Large Egg

1 tsp Butter

Salt & Pepper

Bread, Sliced (for Toast)

4 Things- Simples

Nice Crusty Bread (Yesterdays)

Method

  • Pre Heat oven to 180 oc/Gas Mark 4
  • Boil the Kettle
  • Crack an Egg into the Ramekin, sprinkle with Salt & Pepper & put a spoon of Butter on top of the Yoke
  • Place the Ramekin into a Roasting Tin/Oven Proof Dish & pour Boiling Water until it reaches half way up the side of the Ramekin (this is your Bain Marie)
  • Bake for 15 mins for a soft Yoke (give the tray a nudge near the end you want it to still wobble, its going to carry on cooking on your Plate..)
  • Meanwhile Toast & Butter some Bread

Breakfast for One

Or.. Double Trouble

Bathing time

Variations

This is where it becomes interesting…

  • I like to smear a blob of Marmite in the Ramekin before Cracking the Egg (I hear Miso Paste gives a nice alternative)
  • I have had it served with a spoonful of Caviar over the Yoke (not at home!)
  • Any kind of Cream can replace the Butter on top of the Yoke
  • Grated Cheese goes nicely over the top
  • Flakes of Smoked Fish are delicious at the bottom of the Ramekin before you crack in the Egg

I could literally go on and on and on with Variations but it would be better for you to experiment!

The only bad thing about this breakfast is washing up the Ramekin (your don’t have to wash up a Shell..) but this is what that leftover tray of boiling water is for!..

Get your Spoon out!

Washing Up 😦

NB

Keep an eye on the Egg and you can see just how done the Yoke is.. There’s No pesky shell in your way! So if it goes over done or you serve it & its like Jelly you should have gone to go to Specsavers..

 

Dip Dip

 

 

 

 


Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole with Garlic Bread

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner (Big Slow Cooker!)

A really easy recipe that’s good for using up all the vegetables I find at the bottom of the fridge, sometimes I’ll add some Leek or Tomatoes that are past using in a salad or sandwich, you could add some cubes of potato, peas, sweetcorn the list is endless really..

Staple Ingredients- Onion, Carrot, Celery

Ingredients (Serves 2)

For The Casserole 
  • 4 Good Quality Sausages (I use Pork but I’m sure Beef or Chicken would work equally well) Chopped into 3 or 4 pieces
  • 1 Tbs Fresh Thyme
  • 1 Tbs Fresh Rosemary, Leaves Chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Sliced
  • 1 Dried Chilli, Chopped Finely (or 1tsp Dried Chilli Flakes)
  • 2 Carrots, Washed & Chopped (as fine or rough as you like!)
  • 1 Onion, Chopped
  • 1 Celery Stick, Chopped (as you see fit!)
  • 1 x 400g/14oz Tinned Beans (of your choice) Borlotti, Kidney, Butter Beans etc , Drained and Rinsed
  • 1 x 400g/14oz Tinned Tomatoes (chopped)
  • 2 Tbs Tomato Puree
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 400ml/14fl oz Stock (to suit your choice of Sausage) Chicken/Pork/Beef etc
  • 1 Cup Red Wine (optional)

Omit chilli if you dislike spicy food! It is quite hot..

Chop Chop!

For The Garlic Bread

  • Crusty Bread, Sliced (I do 2 each)
  • 50 Grams Salted Butter
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 Tsp Fresh Parsley, Finely Chopped

Keep me in The Freezer!

Method

I used to start off heating Olive Oil & frying the Sausages (whole) adding the garlic, herbs, chilli, onions, celery, carrot, beans, tomatoes, stock, seasoning then leaving for about 30 mins to simmer..

There were 4 in The Bed & the Little One said 'Roll over'

Now I throw all the ingredients into the Slow Cooker & leave to cook on Low for approx 6 hrs (or until the Carrots are done). It’ll cook in about 2.5 hrs on High! Then you can leave it on Warm & its perfect if people can’t all sit down to eat at the same time. I also chop the sausages up now before cooking or you could fish them out before serving & do this- it just makes more sense than having a Whole Sausage in a bowl with a fork and spoon, who’s bright idea was that anyway..

The only difference I can see with using the Slow Cooker  is that A. Its healthier- you don’t have to use any Oil or Fry anything & B. Its easier

Family Sized

For the Garlic Bread- leave your Butter to soften to room temperature, mix in the Garlic & Parsley and put in the fridge till you needed- personally I like to SEE some garlic butter before it totally melts, but if you don’t leave it out of the fridge & it will melt in seconds. Toast the Bread just before serving (the Casserole will be hot enough to sit in a warmed bowl for a few minutes!) & smear on as much Garlic Butter as you like just don’t go out on a date afterwards..

No Lost Boys round here!

Lovely Garnish!


NB

If you decide to add any delicate vegetables such as Green Beans (like me) either add these half way through cooking, add them ready cooked at the end OR add Frozen ones half an hour before serving.. Otherwise they will be all limp & grey rather than bright green! I put the Tinned Beans in both at the beginning & near the end- it just depends how solid they are, if they are already turning to mush in the can I would put them in at the end, save them breaking up too much.. after all they only need warming through,someone else cooked them for you..

I finished mine of with a few drops of Pesto (hand made- it was already in the fridge!) and a garnish of Fresh Coriander (the only Herb I had left 😦 ) but it looks nice with some Flat Leaf Parsley also. Everything looks nicer with a bit of Garnish, humans included

Hey Pesto!

 

 

 

 

For the Compost Heap

  

Pretty Rosemary Flowers

Useful Rosemary Flowers!

I left the Rosemary Flowers on a shelf over night & Lo and Behold I now have about 15 Rosemary Seeds! How exciting (you can tell I’m not very bright when it comes to gardening) I shall be going straight back to clump of Rosemary in the ‘Wagon Wheel’ area of the garden & picking all of those flowers..  And I thought I’d just use them for Garnish! Doh..