Wednesday 30 November 2011

Thai inspired noodle soup

I LOVE Thai food!! Although I've only started eating it in the last two years...what a shame I didn't discover all the beautiful flavour combinations earlier! This recipe is Thai inspired and is based on a Nigel Slater recipe from his simple suppers collection..and it's exactly that..simple!  It's warming and comforting and if you use reduced fat coconut milk..not totally fattening either! 

The recipe below serves 2 people.  To make the Thai inspired soup you'll need:

  • 1 good knob of fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1-2 red chillies, seeds removed (optional), roughly chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1-2 stalks of lemongrass (tough outer layers removed), roughly chopped
  • 1 handful fresh coriander, a few sprigs reserved and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • prawns 
  • Rice noodles (or if you cant get them use fine egg noodles)
  • oil for frying

Firstly blend the ginger, chilli, lemongrass, garlic and coriander in a food processor.  Alternatively if you are like me and have left your food processor 105 miles away until you move into your new house permanently then you can use the jars or tubes of already ground up chilli/lemongrass/ginger paste, grate your garlic cloves and finely chop your coriander. It works just as well.  I used a generous teaspoon of the lemongrass, ginger and chilli pastes and stuck with the amounts above for the garlic and coriander.  Either way, add your "paste" to the pan with a little bit of oil and cook for a few minutes to release the aromas. Mmmmmmmm!!!!

Next, add the juice of half a lime, the turmeric and some vegetable stock.  Nigel recommends a "small jug", I didn't have a measuring jug or a kettle (again 105 miles away!) so I boiled a little water in a pan and added the stock cube.  I would estimate I probably added about 300ml of stock.  What is a "small jug" anyway? I like Nigel's style of set measurements, just a bit of a guess, go with it and make it to your taste..I suppose that's what makes it simple, not having to measure everything out perfectly.  Anyway, I digress... simmer the stock/paste mixture for a few minutes.

Whilst the stock/paste mixture is bubbling away put your noodles on to cook.  Add a can of coconut milk to the stock/paste mix and bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer it for a few minutes.  Once it has simmered away for a few minutes, add your prawns (if cooking from raw then to cook for a few minutes, or to reheat if you have bought pre-cooked ones.  I prefer raw ones, but hey sometimes you cant always get them so go with what you prefer/have to hand)

When the noodles are cooked, drain them and add them to a couple of nice deep bowls and ladle the soup/prawns over them and serve straightaway.  I added a little extra coriander to the top of mine too.  Nigel says that this recipe also works well with chicken, scallops or mushrooms as an alternative to prawns.  Whatever you choose to put in it, it's flippin' tasty! It's like a great big hug in a bowl and all in under 20 minutes, perfect!

Thursday 27 October 2011

Normal service to resume soon!

If you follow the blog or even just happen to come across it you'll know I haven't posted for a while. I have lost my enthusiasm for cooking new things in the last couple of months as there has been lots going on but we have just got the keys to our very first home - no more paying for someone elses mortgage - yeah!

One of the things im looking forward to is getting back in to the kitchen and cooking new things not just the same old stuff. I am also looking forward to not having to cook by a rubbish lamp light because the kitchen light fitting is broken, having new pans and plates and mugs, glasses, whisk, wooden spoons etc etc! Needless to say over the last couple of months I have built up a collection of new recipes I want to try out in my new kitchen. I've also started baking which I haven't done for years (mainly because I'm not very good at it) but I've been inspired by the great British bake off and thanks to Mary Berry I have mastered a few cake recipes.

So stay tuned I promise normal service will resume shortly! Jayne x

Friday 10 June 2011

Too much salt??

Recently I found out that my blood pressure is bordering on being high and when I say bordering I really mean it; a healthy person should have a blood pressure of 120 over 80 (120/80).  High blood pressure (or hypertension) is anything over 140/90.  Last time I went to see the nurse my blood pressure was 139/88 and this is classed as pre-hypertension.

High blood pressure puts extra strain on your heart which can lead to a stroke, heart attack, kidney disease and other health problems...scary right? It's particular scary for a 27 year old who doesnt smoke and rarely drinks and up until that point didnt consider herself to be totally unhealthy - I have seen people with much worse diets than myself!

There are a number of things that can cause high blood pressure including being overweight, not enough fruit and vegetables, stress, smoking, drinking and eating too much salt.  Now I can rule out the smoking and the drinking as a cause since I have never smoked and only drink if i go out (which doesn't happen all that often!).  I am tackling the weight issue - I have lost a stone so far although I still have at least another stone to loose.  I am going to the gym twice a week and I now have a job where the car park is 10 minutes walk from the office so i walk at least twenty minutes 5 days a week (and that's if I don't have meetings off site - one meeting off site adds another twenty minutes to that).  I have started increasing the amount of fruit and veg I eat although there's never been a lack of fruit and veg in my diet...well maybe fruit but not veg.

The stress...well i do have quite a stressful job, and I also suffer from "white coat syndrome" - just being in a hospital or a doctors surgery will raise my heart rate - not great for someone who works for the NHS, although I am getting used to that hospital smell. So that leaves salt.  I never used to add salt to my cooking till i met my other half 4 years ago but he loves salt and so I just started adding it in and putting it on my food.  To me this seems the most likely cause of my raised blood pressure as im sure i never had a problem with high blood pressure before i started adding extra salt in to my food. 

Salt makes your body retain water and if you eat too much salt, the extra water stored in your body raises your blood pressure.  A lot of foods contain salt so you cant cut it out altogether but there are foods which are high in salt that you can avoid and you can use herbs and spices in your cooking to replace the salt.  You shouldn't be having more than 6g salt a day which is equivilent to just a teaspoon! The NHS have produced a guide about Salt, those foods to avoid and how to reduce your salt intake.  You can find it here

Coming up on the blog in the next few weeks I am going to share a few low salt recipes i have come across for those of you who want to reduce your salt intake so keep checking back. Sorry for the boring blog post but hopefully it might make you stop and think about how much salt you are eating and the problems this could cause in the future.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Homemade Pepperoni Pizza that's not entirely true since I used a pizza base mix but if someone is going to make my life easier and measure out all the ingredients for me then i am not going to argue with that.  It is homemade in the sense that it is not from the shops or the takeaway so you have greater control of what goes on the pizza. 

I came across this recipe in this month's Weight Watchers magazine.  My other half's instant reaction when I told him I was making pizza was ooh, then I told him it was a Weight Watchers recipe and he looked disappointed.  He soon ate his words though as it was delicious and I would definitely make this again.  It's ready in the time that it takes for one to be delivered and the pizza base mix was really cheap.  The only thing I would do differently is leave it in a little bit longer as it was a bit doughy in the middle - but then I find that even shop bought ones are.  I have got to get myself one of those pizza stones that I have been told makes all of the base crispy not just the sides.

The recipe in the magazine was for a sausage pizza but I decided to make a pepperoni pizza instead.  It was the same number of points - 8 pro points per slice.  The recipe serves four with a nice salad on the side.  The good thing about making your own pizza though - have whatever you want on it.  Obviously a veggie pizza is going to be less points per slice.

To make the pizza you will need:
  • 1 packet of pizza base mix (found in the home baking aisle in the supermarket)
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste (i used sacla intense sundried tomato paste)
  • 1 shallott, sliced
  • 9 large slices pepperoni
  • 1/4 tub roasted peppers (from the deli)
  • 2 medium tomatoes on the vine, sliced
  • 1 pack of half fat mozzerella, torn into chunks 
  • Pepper
  • Dried Parsley
  • Calorie Controlled cooking spray
  • Plain Flour
Pre-heat your oven to Gas Mark 7 or 220 degrees.  Prepare the pizza base as per the instructions on the back of the pack - in my case it was adding hot water from the tap and kneeding it.  Roll out the dough on a floured surface until its thin like how you imagine a thin crust pizza base would be before its cooked.

Spray a baking tray with calorie controlled spray and then dust it with a little flour so that the pizza base doesnt stick.  Now here is the tricky bit - transfer the dough from your work surface to the tray.  I had to do this twice as it looked a right mess the first time i did it, so I squished it all up and rolled it out again.  Once on the baking tray, turn the edges up a little to create a sort of crust.

The instructions on the back of my packet of pizza mix told me to leave it somewhere warm for ten minutes, so i left it on top of the hob while the oven was pre-heating.  Not sure what it was supposed to do as it didn't seem to rise or anything, but i guess there was a reason for it.

Spoon the paste onto the pizza base and spread it out into a thin layer leaving a little gap around the edge.  Add your toppings.  Season with pepper and sprinkle some dried parsley over the top (as much as you like, I probably used a teaspoon).  Alternatively you could sprinkle over some basil.

Put the pizza in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the base is crispy and golden and serve with some salad. How good does that look!? Delicious!

Sunday 8 May 2011

Slow Cooked Mutton Massaman Curry

Up until last year when my mum took me to Broom House Farm in County Durham, I had never cooked with Mutton.  The farm sells their own beef, lamb, mutton and saddleback pork so when I visited for the first time I decided to try some of their mutton mince for a change from lamb mince.  The next time I went back I stocked up on some meat to take back with me and put in the freezer, including some lovely diced mutton.

I dont think there is enough promotion of mutton as a great meat to cook with which is a shame.  In terms of slow cooking I think mutton is definitely better than lamb in currys or casseroles.  For those who dont really know what mutton is, generally it means a sheep that is over two years old.  I came across a good website called the Mutton Renaissance which is dedicated to "putting mutton back on the menu".  Have a look if you get a moment as it's an interesting site.

When I originally bought the mutton I was thinking of making a slow cooked mutton stew but then I came across a recipe on Waitrose for Lamb Massaman Curry with coconut and peanuts.  I had bought some massaman curry paste a while ago but had never done anything with it so thought this recipe would be useful as a guide to making a slow cooked mutton curry.

The recipe below will easily serve 4 and to make it you will need the following:
  • 500g diced mutton
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 6 medium or large new potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 x 400ml tin reduced fat coconut milk
  • 4 teaspoons of Massaman curry paste
  • 150ml Lamb stock
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons half fat creme fraiche (optional - use it to cool down the curry if you think its a bit too spicy)
1) Turn your slow cooker on to high and replace the lid to let it warm up.  Meanwhile seal the lamb in a frying pan with a little olive oil.  Add the onions and fry for a couple of minutes until they begin to soften.  Add the curry paste and stir together so that the onions and lamb are coated in the paste.

2) Transfer the lamb to the slow cooker and add your diced new potatoes.  The potatoes dont need to be par-boiled before cooking as they will cook in the liquid. 

3) Add the coconut milk, lime juice and lamb stock and give it all a stir, then replace the lid.  Note: it might not seem very spicy tasting at this point but dont add any more curry paste unless you like it with a bit of a kick.  I added another teaspoon and I should have just left it - this is the reason for the creme fraiche later on! It didnt burn my mouth off but it was a little bit too spicy for me.  It all depends on taste really but the taste at the beginning does not reflect how it actually tastes at the end once it has had five hours of slow cooking

4) Leave to cook on auto (after an hour it automatically turns down the temperature from high to low) for five hours, stirring occassionally.  If you find at the end of the five hours it is a little spicy for your taste add the creme fraiche before serving.  You dont want to add it at the beginning or it will split.  Serve with some rice.

The meat was absolutely beautiful and melted in the mouth.  It was a long wait but actually it hardly involved any cooking which is great because it meant I could get on with the rest of my weekend....of doing nothing but sitting listening to the rain beat off the windows.  Due to sheer laziness I only took one photo of the finished dish so there isn't any step by step photos.

Friday 6 May 2011

Tomato and Onion Salad

This delicious Tomato and Onion salad goes really well with the chicken tikka kebabs in the previous post, but its also easy to increase the quantities and serve this as a side dish at a BBQ.  It's also very refreshing.

The recipe below makes enough for two people and with only 1 pro point - leave the olive oil out and its completely free.

To make the tomato and onion salad you'll need:
  • 5 medium size tomatoes
  • half a red onion, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • Salt and Pepper
In a bowl add the sliced onion and the white wine vinegar.  Leave the onion to soften for around 15 minutes.

Chop up the tomatoes and add to the onion.  Add the olive oil, mint, parsley and seasoning and stir together. 

Chicken Tikka Kebabs

These kebabs are so easy to make and don't take long at all to make, which is great when you don't have a lot of time or you've had a long day at work and want something quick and simple for tea.  These would also be great for BBQ's in the coming months, if the weather in the UK holds out!

The recipe below serves two people but its very easy to increase the quantities if you are serving a lot of people - it works out as 1 chicken breast per person.  If you are following weight watchers it works out as 14 pro points for the whole recipe or 7 pro points each.  Serve it with a 0 point salad and if you have some points to spare, why not add some tasty flatbread or a pitta bread.

To make the kebabs for two people you will need:
  • 2 medium skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon curry paste - I used tikka masala but use whatever type you fancy
  • 2 tablespoons half fat creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt
  • Metal skewers
In a bowl, mix together the curry paste and the creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt, whichever you have decided to use.  Add the chunks of chicken and marinate for about 5 minutes.

Thread the chicken onto metal skewers - there should be enough chicken to make two generous skewers or three normal ones.  Place the skewers onto a baking tray.

Place the skewers under a medium grill and cook for 5 minutes on each side. Alternatively put them on the BBQ and cook for the same time.  If the marinade on the skewers looks like it is drying out or like there isn't enough, use some of the leftover marinade to spread over the chicken.  

Serve with mixed salad leaves and this delicious tomato and onion salad.  

Tuesday 3 May 2011

Warm smoked salmon salad with mint, chilli and lime dressing

The weather in the UK has been lovely over the last couple of weeks.  When the sun comes out I tend to loose my appetite and when I do want something to eat its usually something light like a salad.  I have had some requests for some lighter dishes now that we have some nicer weather, and this is a perfect example of something light but is it a bit more interesting than your bog standard garden salad.  You could have this as a starter between a few people, a main dish for two or up the quantities a little and serve it as a salad option at a BBQ.  Asparagus is in season at the moment and it tastes delicious in this dish!

The recipe below is for 2 people as a main dish.  For those following weight watchers this salad is 9 pro points per serving including the dressing.

For the salad you'll need:
  • 2 smoked salmon fillets
  • 6 new potatoes
  • handful of green beans
  • 10 asparagus spears
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pack of mixed salad leaves
  • 2 spring onions
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Fresh Mint
For the dressing you'll need:
  •  1 tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce
  •  Juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook your potatoes for 15 minutes, until tender.  Meanwhile follow the instructions on the pack of smoked salmon fillets and warm them through in the oven.

While the potatoes are cooking take a large dish or bowl and add your salad leaves, spring onions and tomatoes.  Chop up a tablespoon of mint and a teaspoon of parsley.  Put all of the parsley and half of the mint into the salad.  Just before the potatoes are cooked add the green beans and asparagus tips to the pan and cook for two minutes.  Drain and set to one side to cool a little.  The salmon should be warmed through by this point

Once cooled a little, slice the potatoes in half or three depending on how big the potatoes are and add them to the salad along with the green beans and asparagus spears.  Take the salmon and using your fingers, flake the salmon all over the salad in nice bite sized chunks.  Using salad tongs (or a normal fork and spoon work perfectly well) toss the salad together so everything is mixed well.

In a small bowl, add the olive oil, sweet chilli sauce, lime juice and the rest of the mint and mix together.  You can see from the picture below that it doesn't look like much dressing but you don't want lots otherwise it will overtake the gorgeous flavour of the smoked salmon, instead it just compliments it. Spoon over the salad and serve.

Absolutely delicious!!  

Monday 2 May 2011

An award...por moi?

Waaaaaaayyyyy back in February I was kindly given a "Stylish Blogger" award by the lovely Domestic Goddess Wannabe.  Karen has been following the Domestic Goddess that is Nigella and has been recreating some of her recipes from her latest book, 'Kitchen'.  I have been a bit lazy with the blog recently and never got round to following the rules of the award which are as follows:

  • Thank and link to the blogger who nominated you
  • Share seven things about yourself
  • Award 15 new bloggers and tell them you have done it.
Hmmm 15 bloggers, I might struggle with that one since I'm just getting the hang of following people but here it goes.  These are the blogs that I read most often (other than Karen's of course!);

Propoints, a new Adventure -
Domestic Angel of the North -
My life and WeightWatchers -
Life according to Mrs Shilts -
21st Century Housewife -
Jam and Clotted Cream -

That's 12, not bad going! Now, to think of seven things to share about myself that aren't going to bore you silly. That's going to be hard since I'm not all that interesting :-)

1) I originally come from Gateshead, Tyne and Wear but moved down to Manchester to go to University nearly 10 years ago (scary!) and haven't got round to moving back again.  I will always love Newcastle and no place will ever quite match up to it in my eyes.

2) I accidentally fell into the job that I do now.  Come to think of it a lot of people I know fell into HR.  I work as an HR Advisor but this isn't what I want to do for the rest of my life.  I would like to own a little cafe/teashop/deli with my boyfriend one day and we can work for ourselves. 

3) Incase you couldn't tell from the blog, and some of the people I am nominating for the stylish blogger awards I have recently joined Weight Watchers.  I was a bit sceptical at first because i have been on a few diets before and they dont really work.  Plus I like my food and I don't like to feel like I'm being deprived of something.  Weight Watchers is great though, it makes you look at food in a different way (like it's not ok to eat a whole Easter egg plus accompanying chocolate in one go).  So far I have lost a stone (yay!) but ideally still have a stone and a half to go (boooo!)

4) I confess to watching all sorts of trashy telly programmes which probably take up half of the sky planner.  Anything to do with weddings (including the big fat gypsy kind), babies, teenage pregnancy, reality tv (apart from the only way is Essex, I am not THAT bad), Glee etc, and I am there. 

5) I am obsessed with True Blood and love the fact that Sookie and Bill are together in real life.  I cried tears of happiness when Bill proposed to Sookie at the end of Series 2.  Great script writing and can't wait for series 4 to start; I am hoping for the return of Russell Edgington!

6) I am secretly a bit of a geek when it comes to planes.  I used to love watching the planes taking off and landing at the airport when I was going on holiday as a kid (at the times when they had a viewing roof in the airport) and I still fight the little kids at the airport for one of those good seats in the departure lounge where you can sit and watch the planes out of the window.  I am particular obsessed with Virgin Atlantic planes and have always wanted to be a Virgin Atlantic air hostess (although I hate take off so that was that idea out of the window).  Now I get to follow the adventures of my cousin who recently started as an air hostess with them and jets all over the world (jealous!). Richard Branson is also a legend!  

7) When I was younger I used to be a massive fan of the Newcastle United  football player, Robert Lee. When we moved into a new house, the lady who was showing us round said that a Newcastle United football player next door and asked me who my favourite player was.  As it turns out, it was Robert Lee who was living next door! I bumped into him once getting an ice cream (he was behind me in the queue) , he said hello and asked how I was.  I couldn't speak to him, I just stared at him open mouthed, then got all embarrassed and ran back in the house.  Alan Shearer was his best friend and used to be round his house all the time.  Me and my friend once kicked a ball into his back garden so we had an excuse to go round to see him and the legend that was Shearer.  Unfortunately Robert Lee's wife answered the door so I never did get to see him

Monday 25 April 2011

Cheese on toast with a twist

Recently Warburtons have launched new Sandwich Thins, and they are flying off the shelves!!  They're great if you are on a diet because they are low fat and only 3 ProPoints per thin.  They are also great if you aren't a massive fan of stodgy white bread and want something a bit lighter with your lunch.  They even come ready sliced so you don't have to mess about trying to cut a thin bit of bread in half...genius! 

One of the things I love about weekends, and long bank holiday weekends in particular is brunch.  It sets me up for what remains of the morning and most of the afternoon - brilliant if you have plans to go out and about and do something.  Today, I fancied something a bit different to the usual brunches I make and decided to make this with some leftovers in the fridge - it was absolutely delicious.  It was cheese on toast, with a leftover sausage and some cooked mushrooms - doesn't sound like a culinary feast for your taste buds but by 'eck it was lush! I decided to toast my sandwich thin rather than use normal bread like i would.  If you are following weight watchers, the dish below is 9 ProPoints although you could reduce this if you use reduced fat sausages.

The recipe below is for one person. To make this cheese on toast (with a twist) you'll need:
  • 1 warburtons sandwich thin
  • 2 reduced fat cheese slices (I'm not a big fan of processed cheese but they are only 1 ProPoint each and it means I can control how much I am having a lot better - cheese is my downfall!)
  • 1 sausage of your choice
  • small handful of button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 sprays of calorie controlled spray oil
Spray your frying pan with the calorie controlled spray and cook the sausage as per the directions on the pack.  Meanwhile, split your sandwich thin in half and toast until golden brown.  Set to one side to cool once its toasted.

Once the sausage is cooked, set it to one side to let it cool a little and using the same pan, cook the mushrooms until browned and softened. 

Top each half of the sandwich thin with a slice of the cheese and place under the grill to melt.  Meanwhile chop up the sausage into little pieces.  Once the cheese is melted, remove the thins from the grill and top with the sausage pieces and the mushrooms.  I had mine with a little bit of HP BBQ sauce drizzled on top - yummy!

Meatball Pasta Bake

Well it's been a while, but the madness of work has settled down and I've actually found time to update the blog.  As you know from previous blog posts, about a month and a half ago I started on Weight Watchers, and very successful it has been too.  To date I am one pound shy of having lost a stone and have lost 5% of my body weight...go me!

The weight loss success has been in part, down to a couple of weight watchers cookbooks that I have.  My mum bought me "Weight Watchers Book of Recipes" and then I bought the "Weight Watchers Seriously Satisfying" cookbook.  This meatball pasta bake recipe comes from the Seriously Satisfying book.  I was quite pleased and surprised to find that this recipe only had 10 ProPoints per serving - normally pasta dishes are quite high especially if they have beef in them!  

I often find that living with someone who isn't on a diet can be quite hard - sometimes you see a recipe that looks tasty but you know that the other person wont eat it (usually because it lacks a vegetarian dish you say..never!), so you either end up making two meals or cooking something else entirely.  I don't have any children but I can imagine it's the same difficulty, so this dish is great because the whole family can enjoy it.

The recipe below serves 4 and you will need:
  • 400g (or 14oz) of extra lean beef mince
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • calorie controlled cooking spray
  • 175g (or 6oz) dried penne pasta
  • 2 x 400g tins of tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons tomato ketchup
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 125g pack light mozzarella, drained and torn into chunks
  • Salt and Pepper
In a large bowl mix together the mince, some of the onion, parsley, basil and a little bit of the garlic.  Add some seasoning and then shape into walnut sized balls.  You should get around 16 balls, depending on how big or small you make them.

Spray a non stick frying pan with the cooking spray and heat until hot.  Add the meatballs and cook for 7 to 8 minutes until browned all over.  Don't worry if they aren't cooked all the way through as they will continue to cook when they are in the oven.  Once sealed, remove from the pan and set to one side.

Bring a pan of water up to boil and add your pasta, cooking as per the instructions.  Meanwhile, in the same pan you used to sear the meatballs, add the rest of the onion and fry gently for a couple of minutes.  Add the chopped tomatoes, ketchup, balsamic vinegar and the rest of the garlic. Season with a little salt and pepper and leave to cook for a few minutes until the flavours have chance to combine a little.
Once your pasta has cooked, drain it and add it to the sauce.  Add the meatballs into the frying pan and stir it together - I found this the easiest way to do it rather than trying to mix it all in the ovenproof dish as it usually goes all over the place.  Transfer the sauce/meatball/pasta mix from the frying pan into the ovenproof dish.  Top the mixture with the torn mozzarella cheese and bake in the oven at 190 degrees/170 fan oven/gas mark 5 for 25 minutes until the cheese is bubbling.

Serve with some seasonal salad leaves

Sunday 13 March 2011

Lamb and Feta burgers

With loads of changes going on recently, I have somewhat neglected the blog and been sticking to recipes I have made before, with little enthusiasm for making anything new.  But, I did manage to find some time to make some of these burgers.  I normally make my own burgers as they taste much nicer than shop bought or frozen ones but they are normally made from beef.  Then I came across these Lamb and Feta burgers on the Weight Watchers i-phone app, which I thought was a brilliant combination and don't know why I hadn't thought of it before since I really like Greek food.  The recipe below serves 4 (or 2 hungry people!) and each serving (with Tzatziki and pitta) is 11 pro points

To make the burgers you will need:
  • 500g lean lamb mince (125g per person)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon mint
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 onion, very finely chopped
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 Pitta Bread (if you are on WW use WW wholemeal pitta breads)
  • 1 tablespoon shop bought Tzatziki (or make your own if you can be bothered)
  • 85g Feta Cheese, crumbled
In a large mixing bowl, add the lamb, onion, garlic, mint, parsley and feta.  Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce and season with a little salt and pepper.  Mix everything together - get  your hands in there and squish it all about!!

Once mixed together, separate the mixture into four equal pieces.  Take one piece and roll it into a ball, then flatten it out between your hands into a burger shape.  Repeat with the other 3 pieces.

Place the burgers on a baking tray and set to one side.  Place your pitta bread under a medium grill to warm through for a couple of minutes.  Remove from the grill and place the burgers under for around 10 minutes - turning after 5 minutes.

Once cooked, cut each burger in half and serve 2 halves in a pitta bread (it fits better that way!)with whatever salad you fancy and a tablespoon of Tzatziki.  Yum!! 

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?

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