Sunday, 27 February 2011

Heston's Cod with Leek and Potato Sauce

I saw this recipe on an advert for Waitrose - Heston Blumenthal was in Iceland talking about line caught cod and at the end you see him briefly making this recipe.  As soon as I saw this, I instantly wanted to make it.  I've changed this round slightly from the original recipe but if you want to see the original recipe click here. The fish goes beautifully with the leek and potato sauce. If you are following Weight Watchers each serving is 9 pro points.

To make the dish for 2 you will need:
  • 1 small potato, peeled and finely diced
  • 12 baby new potatoes
  • 1/2 onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 200 ml fish stock
  • 1 tablespoon half fat creme fraiche
  • 2 cod fillets
  • 2 teaspoons, dried parsley
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
In a pan fry off the onion, leek and diced potato in the olive oil for 10-12 minutes.  Add the fish stock to the pan and continue to cook for a further 8-10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees or gas mark 6.  Boil some water for your baby new potatoes and cook them for 15-20 minutes until tender.  Place the cod in some tin foil and wrap it up in a parcel.  Place on the baking tray and put in the oven to cook for twenty minutes.

Once the potatoes are tender, add some creme fraiche to the pan and season with the parsley, salt and pepper.  Simmer gently for a few minutes. 

Use a hand blender or a normal blender to liquidise the leeks, onions and potato. Keep warm until your new potatoes and fish are cooked.  Once the new potatoes are cooked, drain them and slice them in half. 

Pour some of the liquidised leek and potato onto a warm plate.  Add the halved new potatoes and top with the cod fillet.  Spoon a little bit more of the sauce on top of the cod and sprinkle with some dried (or fresh if you have it) parsley.  Now the picture below does not look as good as Heston's finished dish but then I'm not a professional chef.. I had a go though and it was delicious.

                                    Mine                                                   Heston's

Mum's Spaghetti Bolognaise

As my last post was about a dish I first made when I was young, I thought I would blog about the other dish that I first learnt to cook when I was younger - my mum's spaghetti bolognaise.  It was also the very first dish I cooked for my other half and he has been hooked on it ever since.  Everyone I know has a slightly different way of making bolognaise but my mum is a great cook and her bolognaise is delicious so this is my favourite method!

To make this dish for 2 people you'll need:
  • 250g lean mince beef
  • 6 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced - optional (I used it on this occasion as I had one that needed using up)
  • 1 400g tin cherry tomatoes (or chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato Ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley (or fresh if you have it)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil (or fresh if you have it)
  • 1 Beef Oxo cube
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
In a frying pan add the olive oil, onions, peppers and mushrooms. Fry gently over a low heat until softened. 

Add the mince and fry until brown.  Once brown, crumble a beef oxo cube over the mince and the vegetables and mix together.

Add the tinned tomatoes, ketchup, tomato paste, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, basil and parsley.  Mix together and then season with salt and pepper. 

Simmer over a low heat for around 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened and reduced a little.  Check for seasoning and then serve with some pasta of your choice.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Stuffed Peppers

I have made these stuffed peppers since I was about 15.  Even back then I would see somebody make something or come across a recipe and adapt it to my own tastes.  This particular dish was from Delia Smith but she added anchovies to hers which, at the time I thought was pretty disgusting.  Now I wouldn't mind giving that a go! You can have this as a vegetarian main dish (both peppers) with some lovely salad or you can have it as a starter or as a healthy side to your main meal.  If you are following Weight Watchers this only has 4 points per pepper. 

To make 2 stuffed peppers you will need:

  • 1 sweet pointed pepper (make sure you choose nice big ones rather than skinny flat ones so you can get more tomatoes in them) 
  • An assortment of cherry or plum tomatoes (I used red, orange and yellow)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (you could substitute this for fry light and save yourself a point)
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 pack of half fat mozzarella, torn into pieces
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
And here's what you do:

Cut the peppers in half length ways and de-seed them. Put the peppers in a baking tray - you might need to use a deep baking tray or dish to give some support to the peppers if they were a bit curvy like mine.   Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 6 or 200 degrees

Cut your cherry or plum tomatoes in half and put them inside the pepper, creating a layer of tomatoes.  Divide the garlic between the two peppers, spreading it across the tomatoes and in the gaps in between.  Then add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to each pepper so that the vinegar is in all the gaps between the tomatoes (my mouth is watering as I am writing this!). Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil on each pepper, season, sprinkle a little dried parsley over each and pop in the oven for around 15-20 minutes until the pepper and tomatoes have softened.

Remove the peppers from the oven and top with the torn mozerella.  Put back in the oven to cook for around 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and starting to bubble. 

A delicious yet healthy dish which tastes great and is really versatile...what more can you want?

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Weight Watchers Pro Points

So, last night I took the plunge and joined Weight Watchers.  It seems to work for other people I know who are following the programme and they are steadily loosing a couple of pounds a week. Reading through the stuff last night I was shocked at the number of points that were in some of the things that i have been eating recently (my diet has really gone to pot with being busy at work).  Then today I went to Tesco and found out there were 16 points in a Sandwich - I am only supposed to have 29 a day!

For those of you who aren't familiar with Weight Watchers it works on a points based system rather than counting calories.  It takes into account the amount of Fat, Protein, Carbohydrates and Fibre is in something and assigns a points value based on that and the serving size.  When you first go to join up on their website, it gives an example of 1 croissant with a little bit of butter and 3 slices of bacon (fat removed) with 2 eggs  - both are 300 calories but the croissant has 2 more points than the plate of bacon and eggs.  Bear in mind then that I like 2 croissants and they come with jam as well as butter then give me the plate of bacon and eggs any day!

I'm on day one so far and I don't really feel like I'm on a diet as its about making healthier choices rather than counting calories.  My boyfriend is scared that im going to start feeding him edame beans and all that rubbish! Given the new information I have about points values in food, I have gone through some of my recipes and looked up the points values - not all of them because some have a long list of ingredients and I cant be bothered working them out or they have a sky high number of points! If you are on Weight Watchers and want to eat some tasty recipes but still know how many points you are having then look under the "Labels" section on the right hand side of the screen for Weight Watchers.  Each recipe under that label will tell you how many points are in it per serving.  I'll be adding more to it as time goes on so keep checking back!

I WILL look like this in a Bikini after weight watchers (fingers crossed!)

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Posh poached eggs on toast

I came across this recipe on a fellow food blogger's site, it's called For the Love of Cooking and I thought this would make a great brunch.  Check out the site through the link above.  I made it for my boyfriend as I can't eat eggs although I made one for myself minus the eggs and had a little taste of his... it was good!!  You could turn this into a vegetarian brunch by just leaving out the bacon and adding some cooked mushrooms.  For those following Weight Watchers, each serving is 10 points.  To make the dish for two people you'll need:

  • 6 rashers bacon
  • 2 slices of bread of your choice - I went with a nice ciabatta
  • 8 asparagus spears
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • garlic infused olive oil (or a piece of garlic and some plain olive oil)
  • White wine vinegar (for the eggs)
  • Salt and Pepper for seasoning
  • Butter
Place your bacon under a medium grill and cook until the fat is nice and crispy.

Meanwhile blanch your asparagus spears in some boiling water for a couple of minutes.  Remove and set to one side.  Use the same water to poach your eggs, adding some white wine vinegar.  I'm not going to tell you how to poach an perfect egg as I don't eat them so I'm not an expert, but if you need them you can find instructions here

By this point your bacon should be done.  Remove from the grill and set to one side.  Drizzle some garlic infused olive oil over your bread (or rub a garlic clove over the bread and then drizzle with plain olive oil) and then lightly toast under the grill. While you are waiting for the bread to toast, slice some tomatoes up.  Once the bread is toasted, spread it with a little bit of butter.

To assemble the dish, lay 2 slices of bacon on the bread.  Add a few slices of tomato and 4 spears of asparagus.  

Add another slice of bacon, top with the poached egg and season.   Mmm I miss eggs so much..all that lovely yolk oozing out when you cut into it.  Enjoy for me!!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Beef Casserole

By popular demand here is a recipe for a gorgeous slow cooked beef casserole.   I easily got 4 portions out of this (well 2 and then we both went back for another helping with some left over for the next day!)  Slow cookers are great, start all your ingredients off in a pan and then transfer them over into the dish and leave it to cook, so simple!  This one took about 3 hours to cook but it was totally worth the wait, the beef melted in my mouth.

To make the beef casserole you'll need the following:
  • 1 pack of beef cubes or braising steak
  • 8-10 shallots either left whole if they are small or cut in half if they are quite large
  • 1 pack of baby button mushrooms either left whole or cut into quarters
  • 1 carrot sliced (don't bother peeling)
  • 1 tin of cherry tomatoes or chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 bottle of red wine ( any will do as long as its good quality)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 200ml beef stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp mint (this was actually added by mistake but it blended in well)
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive oil for cooking
Its quite a long list of ingredients but it creates such a beautiful meal! 

Cut your beef up into nice bite sized chunks (the picture is not the size the beef ended up, that's how it started!) and seal in a frying pan for a couple of minutes.  It doesnt need to be cooked all the way through, you are just starting the process off.  Add to the slow cooker.

In the same pan that you used for your beef, fry the shallots, mushrooms and garlic in a little olive oil for a couple of minutes and add that to the slow cooker.  Meanwhile add your carrots to a pan of boiling water for about 5 minutes otherwise I find that when the rest of the ingredients are cooked the carrots are still as tough as old boots! Once cooked drain and transfer to the slow cooker too

In the same pan again, add the red wine and simmer for 5 minutes cooking off some of the alcohol, then add this to the slow cooker.

Add your tinned tomatoes, tomato ketchup, tomato paste, stock, herbs and seasoning to the slow cooker and give it a good stir to mix it all together.  Cook on high for 3 hours and voila...a beautiful beef casserole.

                                                  Before                                      After

Serve with some creamy mash.  I can't tell you just how good this is, infact writing this is making me so hungry im off to eat the leftovers!!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Anchovy Dressing

So in my last post I promised to blog about anchovy dressing.  This dressing goes really well with the tray baked cod, but you could have it with plain cod, red mullet, seabass, haddock etc.  Its also really nice drizzled over new potatoes.  It is strongly flavoured so you don't need to put loads of it over your food.  The recipe was adapted by my mum from a Gordon Ramsay recipe.

To make the dressing you'll need:
  • 50g can anchovy fillets (drained)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 generous tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 100ml olive oil
Gordon's original recipe also used 1tsp chopped tarragon but my mam has never used it as she didn't have any in when she first made this. 

Its really simple to make the dressing and its ready in a matter of minutes.

Add the ingredients into a blender and whiz until blended...told you it was simple!

It doesn't look the prettiest dressing but it tastes great with your fish and potatoes.


Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Easy tray baked cod

This recipe is inspired by Jamie Oliver and adapted to my own tastes.  Its really easy to make, and you can make it ahead and its ready to put in the oven when you need it.  For those following Weight Watchers each serving is 9 points

To make the tray bake to feed two, you'll need:
  • 2 cod loins
  • 6 slices of pancetta or 4 slices of prosciutto - it doesn't matter which one you use the process is the same
  • small new potatoes
  • 1 red pepper, de-seeded and chopped into pieces
  • 2 bunches cherry tomatoes on the vine
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • Olive oil
Lay 3 pieces of pancetta in a row on a piece of cling film.  Place the cod loin on top of the pancetta and season with a bit of pepper and a little bit of the dried parsley.  Wrap the cod in the pancetta by folding one side of the pancetta over the cod and then the other, using the cling film to help you.  Repeat the process with the other cod loin

Par-boil your new potatoes in a pan for about 10 to 15 minutes.  Meanwhile heat your oven to 220 degrees or gas mark 7.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and sear the fish for a minute each side. 

Add the fish to the baking tray and then add the cherry tomatoes, potatoes and peppers scattered about the rest of the tray. Drizzle a little olive oil over everything and season with a little salt, pepper and parsley.

Put the tray in the oven for 20 minutes until the cod is cooked and the pancetta is crispy.  Serve with some anchovy dressing. Yum!

Fillet Steak, Homemade Chips and Bois Boudrin

I'm not going to start blogging about how to cook a perfect steak because quite frankly if i get it spot on its a miracle - most of the time I end up overcooking it slightly and its not as pink in the middle as my boyfriend would like it.  This weekend however, I did end up cooking a really nice steak and its all thanks to Gordon Ramsay and his Good Food guide to cooking a great steak.  You can find the link here

I can however, tell you how to make really nice chips without a deep fat fryer and a lovely bois boudrin to go with it!

To make the chips you'll need:
  • Potatoes - I use one large potato per person, whatever you have in the fridge will do, this time I used baking potatoes.
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tsp dried Parsely
  • Olive oil
And to make the bois boudrin you'll need:
  • 1 large shallot, chopped into small pieces
  • 150g small cherry tomatoes , halved, or 3 medium tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
  • 3 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard 
  • ½ lemon , juice only
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
To make the chips

Heat the oven to the highest setting - Gas Mark 9 or 250 degrees.  Slice the potatoes into chunky strips - no need to bother peeling them or anything, just clean them and leave the skin on, it adds to the flavour.

Add the potatoes to a pan of boiling water and simmer for around 10 minutes.  Drain the water from the pan and add the par boiled potatoes to a baking tray. Drizzle some olive oil over the chips, add the parsely and some salt and pepper and mix everything round so that all the chips are coated.  Put the chips in the oven for around 15-20 minutes, turning occassionally until golden and crispy

To make the bois boudrin

According to Gordon, this should be served cold but I personally preferred it warmed through, so here's what you do.  Put all the ingredients in a pan and simmer gently on a low heat for around 15 minutes and...well its done. Simples! Serve with your steak and chips either on the side or on top of the steak.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

American Blueberry and Lemon Pancakes

I came across this recipe for American blueberry pancakes on BBC Good Food and added my own little twist with a bit of lemon juice.  You can find the original recipe here.  With pancake day and valentines day coming up you could cook your other half breakfast in bed...or you could just eat them yourself! :-)

The recipe below makes 10 pancakes and believe me 5 each is more than enough - I couldn't finish mine but they were absolutely delicious! To make the pancakes you'll need:
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 300ml milk
  • 1 pack of blueberries
  • 1 lemon
  • small knob of butter
  • honey for drizzling
In a bowl mix the dry ingredients - the self raising flour and baking powder.  In a separate bowl add the egg, milk and the juice from half a lemon and whisk together. 

Make a well in the middle of the flour/baking powder and add the wet ingredients - I don't have a mixing bowl at the moment so I used a pan to combine the two.  Then whisk together and create a thick batter.  Melt a knob of butter and then add this to the batter, then beat until its all mixed together.

Add half of the blueberries to the mix and stir gently.  At this stage you could add any fruit you liked really - raspberries, raisins etc but the blueberries are gorgeous.

Melt a little butter or oil in a non stick frying pan.  Take a large tablespoon (or in my case I found a serving spoon worked well) and pour a spoon full of the mixture into the pan.  Depending on how big your pan is you can cook 3 or 4 at a time.  Cook the pancakes for 2 or 3 minutes on each side  - I found that once the mixture started to look like it was cooking on the top side and little bubbles were starting to appear then it was time to turn.

When the pancakes are cooked stack them on a plate and sprinkle the rest of the blueberries on. Squirt a little bit of lemon juice over the top then drizzle some honey all over the plate and tuck in!!

Friday, 11 February 2011


One of the presents we received for Christmas just gone was a lovely selection box of beef from Donald Russell 

For one reason and another it took me a while to get round to order the selection box, but it was finally delivered to my door last week.  The beef comes vacuum packed and frozen so you can take it straight from the box and put it in to the freezer ready for when you want it.  Because it's vacuum packed it also lasts for a lot longer than if you got a bit of beef from the shop or butchers and put it in the freezer.

The selection box came with beef cubes, sirloin steaks, rib eye steaks, fillet steak, rump steak and minute steak.  Mmm my mouth is watering as I write this! So watch out in the coming weeks for some tasty beef recipes, such as fillet steak with chips and bois boudrin and beef bourguignon. Phwor!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup

A week on from my last post and the scrummy leek and potato soup, it's still cold, wet and miserable in Manchester, so its time for another soup recipe.  This one is roasted pepper and tomato soup.  Its a great way to use up your left over tomatoes that you bought with all the good intentions of making a salad (who wants salad in January/February anyway!).  The recipe below makes enough soup for two and is 3 propoints per serving.  Use calorie controlled spray instead of olive oil if you want a soup with less points

You'll need the following:
  • 1 sweet red pointed pepper
  • 1 pack of cherry or plum tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Tomato Ketchup
  • 1 beef oxo cube
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Salt and Pepper
Firstly cut the sweet pointed pepper in half and deseed.  Then cut each half into half again and put on baking tray.  Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees or gas mark 6.  Sprinkle some of the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and seasoning on top of the peppers and put in the oven to roast for around 15-20 minutes.  Set to one side to cool and then chop into little pieces

To the pan add the rest of the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce, the crushed garlic, parsley, basil and some salt and pepper.  Chop your tomatoes into chunks and add to the pan along with the roasted peppers.  Add a dash of tomato ketchup and stir everything together so its coated in the olive oil and vinegar.

Simmer the tomatoes/peppers on a low heat for around 10-15 minutes until they are soft and the sauce has thickened.  A lot of people would take the skins off the tomatoes and peppers but I leave them on as I think it adds to the flavour...that and I just cant be bothered peeling the skins off them!

Add 1 beef oxo cube to 350ml of boiling water and stir until dissolved.  Add the stock to the pan and simmer for another 10 minutes. 

Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.  Then return to the pan to warm through again.  Check for seasoning then serve with some nice crusty bread.

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