Monday, 18 August 2014

Cauliflower Cheese

It's my birthday next month, and last week Mr Kiss bought me an early birthday present -
a Combi Microwave !
Don't laugh.
He says not to even mention the steam iron that I got for our Anniversary!!  Ha ha!
No, seriously - the microwave was exactly what I wanted.
My last one sounded like a tumble dryer with a penny stuck in it - and took about 10 minutes to heat a bowl of baked beans.

So, I am on the lookout for comi/microwave recipes - know any?

My first success has been cauliflower cheese.
Now, it says this serves 4, but we polished it off between the 2 of us!!

1 cauliflower, trimmed
6tbsp water
25g butter
25g flour
1/2 tsp french mustard
300ml milk
75g grated red cheese

1. Place cauliflower upside down in a bowl. Add water. Cover and cook on Medium for 10 mins. Drain.
2. Melt butter on High for 15-30 secs. Stir in flour and mustard. Cook for 20 seconds. Add milk gradually. Stir well and season. Cook on High for 2 - 3 minutes, or until thick and bubbling. Stir once halfway during cooking.
3. Stir in 60g grated cheese. Put the cauliflower into a shallow microwave dish and pour the sauce over. Top with the remaining cheese.
Cook on Combination (using metal tray accessory) Convection 220C + Warm for 15 - 17 minutes, until golden brown.

If you don't have a combi microwave, you can always use your oven for the last part of cooking.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Smoked Fish Rarebit

I don't mind long and complicated recipes when I'm in the mood to cook,
but for a mid-week supper, I want something that I can put together quickly and,
 if it all goes in one dish, that's even better.

Here's my version of  Smoked Fish & Cherry Tomato Rarebit  
Basically the same, but where they make the rarebit sauce from scratch, I used a packet of cheese sauce!!

Serves 2         Heat oven to 190C / 170C Fan

Garlic Butter.
225g cherry tomatoes, halved
350g spinach, washed
Smoked Haddock for 2 people. Approx 300g - Skinned.
50g Grated Parmesan (you probably won't use the whole packet - unless you really like cheese! )
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

Melt a small knob of garlic butter in a large frying pan. Add the tomatoes and heat through.
Tip them into 2 shallow baking dishes, and spread into an even layer.
Melt another small knob of garlic butter in the frying pan and cook the spinach over a high heat, until wilted.
Tip the spinach into a colander and  press, to drain off any excess liquid. Season with salt and pepper
and arrange over the tomatoes.
Cover with the fish fillets.
Make up the cheese sauce as per the packet instructions. Stir in the tbsp of wholegrain mustard.
(Don't make the cheese sauce too thick, or you won't have enough to cover the fish)
Spread the sauce over the fish, completely.
Sprinkle over the parmesan cheese.
Bake fo 25 - 30 mins, until browned and bubbling and the fish is cooked through.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Cheat's Spaghetti

I am trying to eat a more Paleo diet (like a caveman!)
For me, that means no rice, pasta, processed foods, cakes biscuits etc.
Remember - I did say TRYING !   :-)

So, instead of a big bowl of steaming pasta, I served my Bolognese with cabbage.
Yes - cabbage!  Honestly, it's better than it sounds.
In fact, no-one even missed the pasta.

Finely shred your cabbage and lightly boil, or steam.
(Don't over do it - you still want it to have some bite)

Thursday, 24 July 2014

When only chocolate will do

It was my Wedding Anniversary last weekend.   29 years.
I looked it up. The appropriate gift is new furniture!!
I waited and waited, but no new sofa or chest of drawers arrived   ;-)
So, I consolled myself with caramel and chocolate :-)

Millionaire's Chocolate Tart.

This is a ridiculously, easy to make tart and, despite all that chocolate and caramel, it's suprisingly light.

I didn't bother adding the vanilla to the pastry, and just used a sheet of ready rolled shortcrust.
You can see from the picture above, that my chocolate layer is a little thin, that's because I used the whole tin of caramel, and my dish wouldn't fit all the chocolate mix in.
It didn't spoil the taste, but next time I won't be quite so generous with that caramel :-)
You only need 100g of the dark chocolate, so you can afford to choose a good quality bar. I used Lindt Sea Salt, and will defintely try this again with some of their other flavours.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Mango and Radish Salad with Lime Dresssing

Here's another vibrant and tasty salad, perfect for a warm summer's day.

1 ripe mango, peeled and sliced
1/2 cucumber deseeded and sliced
about 8 radishes, halved
4 spring onions, finely sliced

Juice and zest from 1 lime
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey

I had some blueberries that needed eating, so I threw those in as well  :-)
We had this with roast chicken breast, and it was delish.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Lamb chops with lime, cherry glaze

Here's a recipe that divided opinion. To me it was delicious, but my dh thought it was a tad heavy on the lime.
I will definitely make it again, with less lime juice.

The recipe came from a Rosemary Conley Magazine.
Serves 4

8 lamb cutlets
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp black cherry jam
1 tsp preserved giner
zest and juice of 1 lime
2 tsps chopped mint

Season the cutlets and brown them on both sides in a griddle pan.
Remove from the pan and keep warm in a low oven.
In a small pan, add the garlic, ginger, lime zest and juice and heat through.
Add a little boiling water if required. Add the mint.

Serve the lamb cutlets on a bed of buttery mash with the sauce spooned over.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Scandi Meatballs

Not a great picture this I'm afraid.
I think the food was steaming up my camera!

This is definitely one of those recipes for when you need a meal on the table, but you can't really be bothered with cooking.
It's a simple thing to throw together, using a can of mushrrom soup as a base for the sauce.
For more flavour I added some sliced mushrooms and a drop of Worcester sauce to the pan, with the onions and garlic.

Scandi Meatballs

Friday, 4 July 2014

Caramel Swirl Chocolate Brownies

Who can resist a rich, gooey, chocolate brownie?    Not me   ;-)
And here's a recipe that uses my favourite sweet treat - Carnation Caramel.

Find the recipe here at Nestle Carnation

Try and use a good, quality dark chocolate for these, it will make all the difference.
To serve the brownies, I cut them into squeres, put each square into a pretty cupcake liner and sprinkled them with icing sugar.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Fresh Summer Salad

It's a lovely, warm summer's day.
You're sitting outside with a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc, and for lunch...
a delicious, healthy strawberry salad.

Well - the warm summer's day is stretching the imagination a bit, but the rest I can do :-)

The original recipe is at Sweet Eve Strawberries 

To my salad, I added a little chopped chorizo (it needed using up!) and torn basil leaves instead of the mint.
I could just imagine the blank looks, on the faces of the staff at my local supermarket, asking for pomegranate molasses - so I made a balsamic dressing instead, which went beautifully with the strawberries.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Oreo Cheesecakes

Cheesecake in our house is usually the, mix it all together and put it in the fridge, kind
so, these little, baked treats were a little different for us.

They're still easy to make and taste creamy and delicious, but not too sweet.

Recipe from Philadelphia - here

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Tortilla Pizza bites

It comes as no real suprise to anyone that we are out of the World Cup.
We have one last chance to claw back some dignity with this afternoon's game against Costa Rica.
Don't hold your breath though!!

We had these mini pizza bites during the last England game.
The football might have been disappointing, but these were a huge hit.

I used a scone cutter to cut circles from corn tortillas and then placed them into a muffin tin.
I fried up some chopped bacon and added sauce to it. I used my favourite puttanesca sauce,
which is richly flavoured with anchovies, olives and chilli, but any pasta sauce you have on hand will do.
Then I sprinkled each bite with grated cheese and some extra olives.
Bake at 180C for about 10 minutes (keep an eye on them so they don't burn).

We tried them (as you do) straight from the oven and they were delicious.
The rest, I put in the fridge when they were cool and just brought them out 20 mins before serving.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Half - time snack

Just in-case you missed it - the World Cup is on! 
That means dinner in front of the TV and lots of snacks.
Here's a tasty, treat that is perfect for those half-time munchies.

Savoury Cheese Whirls.

Puff pastry sheet.
approx 125g grated cheese
1 beaten egg, to glaze

Preheat oven to 200C Fan
Unroll the pastry sheet. Use a palette knife to spread the Marmite thinly over the pastry.
As you work it, and it warms up, it will spread more easily.
I made a couple of batches of these whirls. For the first one I used about 2tsps of Marmite which gave a good, strong flavour, so use less if you want a more subtle taste.
Sprinkle over the grated cheese.
Roll the pastry up quite tightly, along the long edge.  Brush with the beaten egg.
Cut into thick slices and place on greaseproof paper, on a baking tray.
Bake for 12 - 15 mins until well risen and golden.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Meat Free Monday

I'm always trying to find new ideas for meat free dishes, so I was really pleased to come across the latest edition of Cook Vegetarian.  It came with a free, magazine style book, of 365 veggie recipes.
They look so good, I can't wait to try them out - here's my first attempt, for last night's meat-free supper.

Lentil dhal with spiced onions.

Lentil dhal can be a bit bland for some people, but with plenty of seasoning, a chopped red chilli thrown in with the lentils, and all the accompaniments here, it really worked.
The salad is a simple tomato, cucumber and coriander mix, with some extra yogurt.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Fruit Plait

Here's a delicious dessert, that's quick and easy to put together.

All you need is a ready-rolled puff pastry sheet, and some fruit of your choice.
I used a can of peaches ( make sure they are well drained ) with some fresh raspberries and blueberries.

Place your fruit down the middle of the pastry, then cut the pastry at either side, on a slight diagonal (see the pic below). Tuck the top and bottom edges of the pastry over the filling, and then cross over the other pieces, forming the plait.
Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with caster sugar, then cook in a pre-heated oven 200C / 180 Fan, for about 30 mins.
Until the pastry is cooked and golden.
Before serving sprinkle with icing sugar.

This was deliciously tart, so if you want something sweeter, sprinkle sugar over your fruit.
Serve fresh from the oven with some good quality vanilla ice-cream, or creme fraiche.
I put the left overs in the fridge, and it set firmly, which made it perfect for cutting into slices and taking on a picnic.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Honey Mustard Salmon

Here's a quick, tasty glaze to perk up a salmon fillet.

2 salmon fillets

2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons clear honey

Season 2 salmon fillets and place them on a baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper.
Mix together the glaze ingredients and spread thickly over the salmon.
Bake in a preheated oven 200C / 180 Fan, for 12 - 15 mins, until the salmon is cooked through.

Any glaze that dribbles down your salmon can really bake onto the pan, so make sure you do line it.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Mushroom Pasta Bake

Here's a quick and tasty dish, that's just perfect for our 'meat free Mondays'.

Serves 2

100g dry weight past shapes
1 vegetable stock cube
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1 red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
250g passata
30g low fat cheese, grated
white sauce packet mix

Pre-heat oven to 200C / 180C Fan
Put the pasta in boiling water, with the crumbled, vegetable stock cube. When cooked, drain thoroughly.
Fry the mushrooms, onion and garlic in a little oil. Add the chilli and passata and simmer gently for 5 mins.
Stir in the drained pasta and season to taste.
Transfer to an ovenproof dish.
Make up the white sauce as per the packet instructions and pour over the mushroom mix.
Top with the grated cheese qand bake for 10 minutes.
Garnish with some fresh chopped basil.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Gingered Rice Salad

I found a packet of brown rice lurking at the back of the cupboard and, after checking that it was still edible, I thought I would give this recipe a go. We had it a couple of days in a row, once with chicken and once with salmon, and whilst it was good, with a little tweaking it could be even better.
It's best made the day before, and served at room temperature, to really allow the flavours to come though.

Serves 6 ish

175g brown rice
2 tbsp rapeseed oil (or sunflower oil)
1 tbsp soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 orange
6 cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 red pepper, finely sliced
1/2 cucumber, deseeded and chopped
2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Chopped coriander and mint

Cook the rice as per the packet instructions. Rinse under cold water. Drain well and turn into a large bowl.
Add the oil, soy sauce and orange juice and toss well.
Add the ginger, tomatoes and other vegetables to the rice. Mix well.
Dry fry the sesame seeds until lightly browned and add to the salad along with the chopped coriander and mint.

When I make this again I will add a finely sliced chilli for some extra heat and some chopped apple, for crunch!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Orange, chilli and mixed leaf salad

At long last I have been sucked into the corporate machine that is Apple,
and I have got myself an iphone.
Once I work out how to use it there will be no stopping me!!
For now, I am happy to play with the camera - which takes much better snaps than my last phone.

Here's a quick Friday night salad that goes well with an oily fish like mackerel.

Serves 2
2 large oranges, segmented (keep the shells for the dressing)
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
1/2 a bag of baby leaf salad.

1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp clear honey
4tbsp orange juice (squeezed from  the shells)

Toss all the salad ingredients together. Drizzle with honey, mustard dressing.

As with most salads, this is better if you serve it at room temperature.
I used hot plates for my fish, which meant the orange warmed up on the plate, and was delicious.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Slow Cooked Red Cabbage

With spring now upon us, and the weather starting to brighten up a little,
this will probably be the last time I make slow cooked red cabbage for a while.
It's a family favourite though and was just perfect to go with our beef wellingtons last weekend.

1 onion, thinly sliced
1kg red cabbage, finely shredded
1 cooking apple, peeled and cored, and cut into chunks
4 tbsp light brown soft sugar
2tbsp white wine vinegar
2tbsp redcurrants jelly

Preheat oven to 180C / 160 Fan
Fry the onion in a little oil for a few minutes, to soften.
Add all the other ingredients and bring to the boil.
Sometimes I add a splash of red wine  or port at this stage.
Stir and season.
Cover and transfer to the preheated oven for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours, until the cabbage is tender.

Serves 6.   You can make this a day ahead and just gently reheat on the stove.
It also freezes well.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Shredded Pork with Pomegranate Salad

Who knew pork and pomegranate was such a lovely combination?
Instead of spending hours cooking my own pork, I bought a little pulled pork joint from the supermarket.
It came with a little sachet of bbq sauce and was just enough for the two of us.

Salad (serves 2 with some left over)
2 heads of pack choi, cut into long strips
seeds from 1 pomegranate
6 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
6 radish, cut into matchsticks
about 1/3 cucumber, deseeded and sliced
1 green chilli, finely sliced

2tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp soy sauce

When the pork was just about ready I wilted the pak choi, in a pan, with a tbsp of the dressing.
Then I added in the rest of the salad ingredients and tossed it all together.
Serve the salad with the pork and a little of the dressing drizzled over.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Parmesan Chicken

Here's a quick way to perk up a plain old chicken breast -
give it a tasty, crunchy coating of parmesan.

Season 1 egg white with a little salt and pepper and beat sightly in a shallow bowl.
Put 2 or 3 tbsp of grated parmesan into another bowl.
Dip a skinless chicken breast into the egg white (both sides).
and then into the cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven (180C) for about 25 - 30 mins, or until cooked through.

I served my chicken with a warm green bean, new potato and spinach salad.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Chocolate Mousse Cake

I was in need of a SERIOUS chocolate fix and this mousse cake didn't disappoint.
It's dark and rich and delicious, and blows my weekly calorie budget sky high!!

The original recipe called for plain dark chocolate, but some Rum & Raisin Bournville caught my eye.
The smell of this chocolate is divine, and I managed to put most of it into the cake, only eating a couple of squares!

Original Recipe

250g plain chocolate
4 large eggs, seperated
110g caster sugar
3 tbsp warm water
Cocoa powder for dusting.

I substituted the plain chocolate for 2 x 180g bars of  rum & raisin bournville.

Preheat Oven to 180C / Gas 4
Grease a 20cm / 8in loose bottomed cake tin, and line the base with greaseproof paper.
(I only had a 7" or a 9" tin and I decided to go with the 9". Hence my cake is a little flat.
Next time I will try the 7")

Melt the chocolate. If you're using rum & raisin  do this carefully, so the raisins don't burn.
Allow to cool slightly.
Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar, until really pale and fluffy.
Carefully stir in the chocolate and the warm water.
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
Fold them into the chocolate mixture.
Pour the mixture  into the prepared tin and bake for 15 minutes.
Take it out of the oven and allow to cool.
Dust with cocoa powder.
Then, chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Take out 1 hour before serving and cut with a hot wet knife.

Crunchy Custard Baked Appples

Recipe from Good Food

This is a quick and easy alternative to making an apple crumble.
The custard was drying up a little bit, so I covered the dish with foil after about 10 minutes.
The apples were cooked perfectly though, and we had lots of extra custard to serve it with.
My tip would be to make sure you use a really good granola.
I used Jordans Country Crisp, that's contains lots of crunchy nuts.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Soup of the day

This is a surprisingly tasty soup, considering it is low fat and low calorie.

The recipe is from the January edition of Rosemary Conley, Food & Fitness.

2 stick celery, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
400ml chicken stock
2 tbsp plain flour
400ml semi-skimmed milk
2 cooked skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces.  (I poached my chicken in a little stock)
240g can sweetcorn, drained
fresh parsley to garnish

In a large non-stick sauce pan, dry-fry the celery, onion and garlic for 2 - 3 mins.
Add a little stock, then sprinkle over the flour and mix well.
Cook for 1 minute before adding the remaining stock and milk.
Add the cooked chicken and sweetcorn. Simmer for 20 - 25 mins, to allow to thicken.
Serve with the parsley garnish.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Pancetta Wrapped Salmon

I am always wary of recipes with pulses and beans.
All that overnight soaking and then boiling for an hour, really puts me off.
So I was happy to find a packet of Merchant Gourmet Puy Lentils in my local supermarket -
ready to eat, hot or cold. 
These lentils hold their shape well when cooked, and have a lovely peppery taste.
Here they are with pancetta wrapped salmon.

Serves 4

225g puy lentils ( ready to eat)
4 x salmon fillets
4 slices pancetta
1 red onion
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
250g baby plum tomatoes
large handful baby spinach

Heat the oven to 200C / 180C Fan
Wrap the salmon fillets in the pancetta and roast in the oven for 12 - 15 mins, until cooked through.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and cook the onion for 5 - 6 minutes, until soft.
Add the balsamic vinegar, halved tomatoes and lentils, and stir well.
Add the spinach and allow to wilt. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon onto hot plates and serve topped with the salmon.

Sunday, 2 February 2014


Lime jaffa cakes - that's what this cake reminded us of.
It was wondefully moist and full of flavour.
and it smelt so delicious that, as you can see from the photo,
we couldn't wait for it to cool before we cut into it!

The recipe is for Lime & Ginger Drizzle Cake
and I decorated mine with extra ginger and some dark chocolate.

You can see that it did sink in the middle a little, but that doesn't affect the taste, right?
It came out very moist and crumbly, so it's more of a plate and fork cake,
rather than something you can hold in your hand.


Sunday, 26 January 2014

Whisky Galore

There was just the two of us for our Burn's Night celebration last night,
but I made a lovely, traditional meal of haggis, neeps and tatties.

Then, for dessert I made my first ever Cranachan.
I confess, I cannot drink whisky, so I was a little cautious, but wow! 
Why has no-one told me that whisky cream is one of  the best things ever.
It was heavenly.

(Excuse the photo, which was a quick mobile phone snap)

Cranachan is a traditional scottish dessert that is basically 
whipped cream, whisky, honey, oats and raspberries.
Easy peasy to make - there are lots of 'recipes' out there.

This is one I will definitely be making again.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Soup Of The Week

Making a big, pot of soup at the beginning of the week
is turning out to be a great idea for us.
It's nutritious and healthy and means that I don't have to think about what to make for lunch.

250g dried split green peas, rinsed and drained
1.5 litres water
200g smoked bacon lardons
1/4 celeriac,
1 large carrot
1 small leek
1 medium potato
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 onion
fresh chives (to garnish)
All veg should be peeled if necessary and finely diced.

Put the peas in a large pan, add the water and bring to the boil.
Add the bacon pieces, cover and cook for about 40 minutes over a medium heat.
Add the celeriac, carrot, leek and potato and stir in the marjoram.
Bring to the boil again. Cover and cook for 20 mins.
In a frying pan, brown the onion in about a tbsp of oil.
Add the onion to the soup.
Take half of the soup and blend it, then add it back to the rest.
Season with pepper ( it probably won't need salt, because of the bacon). 
Then sprinkle with chopped chives.

Serves 6


Saturday, 18 January 2014

Say Cheese

When it comes to cheesecake, I usually stick to an easy refrigerator mixture,
but I couldn't resist trying this baked recipe from Nestle
they had me at 'toffee'.

The mixture itself was very easy to put together, my only worry was how I would tell if it was baked properly. Most people seem to go with the jiggly method ie: the outside edges should be just set and the middle still a little jiggly!! 
Hmmm... there was lots of  'is that too jiggly?'  'Is that just jiggly enough?'
Finally, I used a thermometer and took the cheesecake out when it reached 70C (it was perfectly cooked).

It was delicious - but not without error.
My biscuit base was soft.
Was that because of the water bath?
Also, instead of pretty swirls of caramel, mine all sank to the bottom.

Notes: Try baking the biscuit layer for about 8 mins, before adding the filling.
If you don't want a layer of caramel, use a spoon to very gently swirl the caramel through the filling.