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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..


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


Red Wine & Onion Gravy

Sausage, Mash & Onion Gravy

Ingredients

  • 2 White Onions, Sliced
  • 1 Tbs Butter
  • 1 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Brown Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup Red Wine
  • 1 Beef Stock Cube
  • 1 Cup Hot Water
  • 1 Tbs Corn Flour
  • Salt & Pepper

Method

  1. Heat Butter & Oil
  2. Fry Onions until soft, approx 5 mins
  3. Add Sugar and continue frying until onions are brown & caramelized, keep stirring so they don’t burn (or they will be bitter!) approx 20 mins
  4. Stir in Corn Flour till Onions are coated
  5. Sprinkle over stock cube & stir well
  6. Add wine & de glaze the pan
  7. Add hot water & bring to the boil
  8. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the gravy has thickened & become shiny
  9. Taste & season

 

Fry Onions

Add Sugar to Caramelize Onions

Flour & Stock Cube

Onion Gravy- Done

 

 


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!



Nando’s (Not) Peri Peri Sauce

Corn & Sauce

I bought some Fresh Sweetcorn yesterday in the supermarket, I really do need some pointers on choosing good Corn because despite checking the colour of the silk (still golden) and piercing a kernel (milky stuff came out) when I cooked this last night the Corn was still a bit strange, I boiled it for a few minutes & then dry fried it in a really hot griddle pan for another couple of minutes to get it slightly blackened so it wasn’t over cooked or under cooked. I am yet to purchase a good Sweet Corn here 😦

Never the less I ate it simply because the sauce I made to go with it was delicious & I felt like eating something spicy!

I have a fridge drawer full of Lemons (Green ones!) and nothing to do with them, they were a present freshly picked off a tree so I don’t want them to go to waste. I started to think maybe I could make some Lemon Puree and save it in freezer cubes for adding to things when needed. Do you think there are any recipes on-line for Lemon Puree? The answer is NO but there are lots of people asking for one.. So here is mine

Lemon Puree

  • Using a Micro Plane grater remove zest from Lemons & save for another recipe- I personally recommend you make Limoncello! (I will post my recipe for this later)
  • Peel what is left off the skins from the Lemons & discard (or throw on the compost heap)
  • Quarter Lemons & remove seeds
  • Put Lemons into your blender & pulverise!
  • You now have Lemon Puree which can be sweetened if necessary or used in savoury dishes or cocktails!

Lemon Puree

NB I blended my Lemons with their skin on as I am lazy- its fine but next time I would remove the skin 🙂

Anyway whilst browsing for Lemon Puree recipes I happened upon Nando’s Peri Peri Extra Hot Sauce ingredients list and one of these happened to be Lemon Puree (strange I know) so with my Fresh Corn I thought it would be nice to make some of their hot sauce!

They list the following ingredients: Water, Vinegar, Lemon Puree, Salt, Onion Puree, Serrano Chillies, African Birds Eye Chillies, Sunflower Oil, Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Stabiliser, Garlic. Unfortunately I only had one type of fresh Chilli Pepper and it has no name on the packet but I used these and they worked well, surely only a Chilli connoisseur can pick out the flavours of ‘Serrano’ and ‘African Birds Eye’ Chillies.. Nando’s use Xanthan Gum to keep their sauce both fluid & stable but I didn’t think I needed to go to quite that extreme.

Ingredients Line Up

Not Peri Peri Hot Sauce (or Not Piri Piri)

Ingredients:

1/4 Lemon (remove pips but leave the skin on)
1/4 Onion
6 Tbs Olive Oil
3 Tbs Vinegar (I used Apple Cider)
7 Fresh Red Chillies
1 Garlic Clove
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Cayenne
Water

Blend Lemon, Onion & Garlic till they are a puree- add a few tsp of Water if the mixture gets stuck
Add Red Chillies, Salt, Spices & Oil, blend
Add Vinegar, blend
If the sauce seems too thick add a few Tbs of Water to make it pourable (I added 3 Tbs)

Mix & Blend

Finished Sauce

Realistically its more the colour of their Medium sauce (I know this as I have Medium 🙂 ) if you wanted to get that dark red/brown colour & super hot heat I think you would need to use some Dried Red Chillies- I have dried Red Birds Eye chillies in the kitchen (the ones needed for TRUE Peri Peri) so I think I’ll have a little experiment with them this weekend!

If you don’t want to taste any Lemon in the sauce I recommend halving the amount I used as it has quite a Lemony kick

If you are using this as a marinade (as I am tonight) but don’t use it all up you can save the rest in the fridge for a few weeks

You can mix it with Mayonnaise and make Not Peri Peri Mayonnaise A la Nando’s!

Chicken Marinade

 


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


Pizza Express at Home

 

Pizza, Done

 

 

I decided earlier I’d like to try and make Dough Balls, the kind you get at Pizza Express with the Garlic Butter. Then I decided I may as well go the whole hog & try to make some Pizza as well. I say try as my previous attempts at making Pizza or Bread haven’t gone very well. I think I am impatient and I suppose this isn’t a good trait when you are kneading dough!

Got a Dough Ball in the Oven

The last (and first) thing I tried to bake here was Hot Cross Buns, as they don’t seem to be available here. They turned out like rocks, you could have smashed a whole green house with the tray of them, I think my Yeast was past its use by date!

The plan was to take the Dogs out for an afternoon walk & then start making the dough but we now have to do an airport run so I am leaving the whole dough experiment till tomorrow.

One thing has annoyed me, I found this link (below) ‘Exclusive Pizza Express Recipe’. I am going to use their dough recipe, maybe with a couple of tweaks and also the advice for shaping the pizza sounds useful, however, their Tomato Sauce recipe is totally wrong.. You only have to compare it to the ingredients you can find online for one of their Pizza Express At Home Pizzas and you can see for yourself! I don’t know why they bother to give a recipe and call it exclusive, as though they are telling you a secret and then deliberately give you a recipe that isn’t like what they use on their own pizza..

The Times Sauce- After the blender- No Thanks

Rant over! I have made their Tomato Sauce just to be fair, and I won’t be using it on my Pizza, I will be saving it to put on a pasta one day for lunch and using my own recipe for the Tomato Base Sauce.. PS They don’t tell you to blend it, but since when did their sauce have huge chunks of onion, tomato & garlic in? Hmmm..

Ingredients (Serves 2)

For Pizza Dough

See link below

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/recipes/article7017727.ece

For Tomato Pizza Base Sauce

My Pizza Base Sauce

 

  • 250g Tomato Passata (Sieved Tomatoes)
  • 1 Plum Tomato (From a Can) plus 2 Tbs of its Juice
  • 2 Tbs Tomato Puree
  • 5 Fresh Basil Leaves, Chopped Finely or 1 tsp Dried Basil
  • 1 Tsp Sugar
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste

Method

For Tomato Base Sauce

  1. Place all ingredients in a pan
  2. Mash up the Plum Tomato & stir well
  3. Bring to the boil and then simmer for approx 25 mins until you have a very thick sauce
  4. Leave to one side to cool

Beginning

End

Kitchen Helper

 

So assuming you have your dough ready after following the recipe link- you can now get it ready for baking! Personally I turned my oven up as high as it would go (gas Mark 9) and left it to preheat for over 30 minutes.. I actually found it quite easy to roll the dough out & to keep it thin. I have noticed a lot of people saying on line that their Pizza Base springs back and won’t stay stretched out, if this happens you should leave the dough to rest again for 20 minutes and then have another go! One thing I could NOT do was get the edge to curl in the way the Pizza Express ones do, annoying but I suppose practise makes perfect..

 

Roll up Roll up

 

 

  • Then you need to spoon some Tomato Sauce on, you need to put a decent amount on as some will dry out during cooking, but not so much that it will be soggy.
  • Then you need to put your cubes of Mozarella Cheese over the top. What toppings you choose is up to you! I used a Pepperoni, Jalapeno (from a jar), some White Onion and some Green Bell Pepper.
  • Finally a sprinkle of Oregano, Black Pepper & a drizzle of Olive Oil.
  • Place it directly onto your oven rack & cook for 10 minutes (or until it looks nice & brown!)

 

Pizza Ready for Oven

 

 

 

Pizza after Oven

 

 

For the Dough Balls

  • The Pizza Dough recipe makes 2 Pizzas or 1 Pizza & 6 Dough Balls..
  • Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough but instead of shaping into two balls which will become Pizza, shape into 6 balls which become Dough Balls!
  • Once again I put my oven at its highest setting & baked the Dough Balls on a tray for just over 5 minutes (until turning golden)
  • Serve with Garlic Bread

 

Dough Balls

 

 

 

Garlic Butter for Dough Balls

 

 

NB

Problems I had!

I have now made this dough 3 times- the first time I started making it when I noticed the Flour looked a bit off colour, it wasn’t PURE white so I made that batch but also opened some other Flour (remember I am in a foreign country and I tend to go by the pictures for purchases!) this was Snow White so I made a second batch with that. The first batch barely rose at all, the second (really white) batch rose lots. So I think if you are a novice baker use a White Flour, don’t try to experiment with other flours until you understand the dough a bit better. I used the White dough to make the Pizza & the Off  White (pictured top Dough Ball) to make Dough Balls and they both turned out well- if anything the Pizza was too thin! I don’t have pictures as I was otherwise occupied (having a strop).

So third time lucky & I used my White Flour to make up a batch today, it didn’t rise as well as last time I don’t know why (any suggestions?) I think maybe I didn’t knead it long enough, despite doing it for the same length of time (2 songs on my IPod) somehow it didn’t feel the same (hindsight, a great thing). The rolling went just as well, the dough didn’t shrink back etc, my issue is the Oven.. The racks in my oven have huge gaps in between, so I had to start the Pizza off on a tray till it firmed up a bit & then place it directly onto the rack (for some reason this pizza was smaller than the last one which was fine on the rack!) This meant it wasn’t AS crispy as last time but it was thin & crispy so I can’t complain.

I need work on getting the edge bit right.. But overall it went well & if nothing else I think I will make Dough Balls quite often 🙂


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..