Thursday, 16 July 2015

Lemon Asparagus & Artichoke Farfalle


It was hot the day I made this: hot and muggy and I was distinctly lacking in cooking motivation so I opted for pasta - one of the easiest things to fall back on when you just can’t really be bothered, in my opinion.

I have a document on my laptop just for pasta recipes and a board on pinterest too - we have pasta weekly so it makes sense that I have a lot of inspiration to keep things interesting. And the inspiration for this one can be found here. The original called for making a white sauce with flour, butter & milk but I opted for half fat crème fraîche and egg instead for the creamy sauce. A trick I had employed previously in fact in this pasta recipe.


Lemon Artichoke & Asparagus Farfalle
serves 2


150g farfalle pasta
½ tin artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed & quartered
10-15 asparagus tips, cut in 1-1½ in lengths
½ tbsp lemon juice + ½ tsp lemon zest
white wine
knob of butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 egg yolk
2 heaped tbsp crème fraîche
sea salt + freshly ground black pepper to taste
shaved parmesan or pecorino


Whisk together the yolk and crème fraîche in a small bowl and set aside.

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

Meanwhile, spray a large pan or non stick skillet with cooking spray. Add artichoke hearts, lemon juice, and lemon zest and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add asparagus with a splash of white wine and cook another 2-4 minutes until tender, stirring throughout.


Remove asparagus & artichoke from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add butter and garlic to pan and stir for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant.

Tip in the pasta and pour over the crème fraîche, stirring to coat the pasta in the sauce. Carefully stir in the artichokes and asparagus.


Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with parmesan cheese.






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Monday, 13 July 2015

Baked Haddock with Pea Salad


I first saw a picture of this on Pinterest and then the recipe here. I’ve adapted it slightly by adding some sunblush tomatoes to the salad and using haddock instead of sole but otherwise it is much the same.

A nice summery meal - and I cooked it at the height of summer although looking out the window you wouldn’t have believed it and I’d had to shut the windows and put my thick socks on for the first time in weeks.

I also served this with some steamed & buttered new potatoes but to really keep this light you can easily do without.


Baked Haddock with Pea Salad
serves 2


2 haddock fillets
zest & juice of ½ lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
100g frozen peas thawed
salt and pepper to taste
4spring onions, chopped
½ red pepper, chopped
40g sunblush tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped


In a small bowl add the crushed garlic, 1 ½ tbsp of olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together well then pour over the fish in a baking dish. Make sure the fish is fully coated with the marinade then cover the dish with cling and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 200C.

Place the fish in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until done.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a sauté pan and add the chopped onion and red pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are softened.

Add the lemon zest, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the thawed peas to the skillet and saute for another 5 to 8 minutes, adding the tomatoes for the last few minutes.


Remove from the heat and add the dill, mixing well.


To serve divide the pea salad between two plates and place a fish fillet on top of each.






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Sunday, 21 June 2015

Artichoke Chicken with Polenta


There’s a website I check out every now and then called Budget Bytes - in fact it was where I got inspiration for the “one-pot” pasta - and I saw this recipe a while ago instantly bookmarking it to adapt at some later point. Anything with artichoke hearts in it is a winner for me as I absolutely love them and this is fairly quick to chuck together of an evening and I think would probably be pretty good when cooking for friends too.

The original suggests serving with pasta but I opted to have this with polenta. My most recent batch - having scoured supermarket after supermarket for the stuff after my last lot had run out - was eventually bought at an Italian deli in Borough Market and as such it is the “proper” stuff rather than the quick variety I’d hitherto, and unknowingly I might add, used. What this means is that it is 45 minutes in the cooking. And stirring. If you don’t like cooking risotto do not under any circumstances buy proper polenta as it will drive you nuts.


Artichoke Chicken
serves 2


300g skinless chicken breast fillets, pounded flat, each breast cut into 3 pieces
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
½ tbsp capers
small tin chopped tomatoes
½ tin artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp onion granules
1 tsp lemon zest (about ½ medium lemon)
small handful parsley leaves, finely chopped
polenta to serve


Season the chicken lightly on both sides with salt & pepper.

Heat ½ tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over a medium heat and when hot add the chicken pieces. Cook for about 5 mins per side until golden. Remove the chicken to a plate once browned and set aside.

Add the remaining olive oil, along with the garlic to the pan and lightly fry the garlic for 1-2 minutes until fragrant but not coloured.

Add the chopped artichoke hearts, chopped tomatoes, dried basil, lemon zest, onion granules, red pepper flakes, capers and a small pinch of salt.


Stir well and return the chicken to the pan, nestling it down into the sauce. Bring to the boil then turn down to low and let the chicken simmer for 15 minutes, flipping it once half way through.


Stir through most of the chopped parsley then serve over polenta, sprinkling the remaining parsley on top.






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Thursday, 18 June 2015

Mutter Paneer


Mutter (or mattar) paneer is the classic north indian punjabi dish of paneer (“cottage” cheese) and peas (mutter) cooked in a spiced tomato-based gravy. This has now been added to my rotation of vegetarian dishes to pull out on a weekly basis, it is that good. That said, the sauce is so delicious that I’m going to cook a meat curry with it as the base: chicken or lamb I think. It really is seriously good so if you want to try something different for a veggie main give this a whirl.


Mutter Paneer
serves 2


225g paneer cheese, cubed
1 tbsp clarified butter (or ghee)
2 tbsp groundnut oil
1 onion, chopped & puréed in a spice grinder
1½ tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
3 cloves
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
½ tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1tsp coriander powder
400g canned diced tomatoes
1 red chilli finely chopped
250ml water
125g frozen peas
pinch of asafoetida (optional)
1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
salt, to taste
2 tbsp cream
coriander leaves, finely chopped to serve


Heat the clarified butter in a heavy bottom frying or sauté pan and fry the paneer cubes until they are lightly browned. Remove and set aside.


Heat the oil in the pan, add the onion purée and fry until it turns a pale brown.


Add the tomato paste, ginger and garlic pastes and fry for another couple of minutes before adding the coriander, cloves, cumin, turmeric, garam masala & chilli powder and red chilli.


Fry, stirring continuously till you have a glossy thick paste that has darkened a bit.


This would be the "oil separating phase" often seen in Indian recipes if the usual quantity of oil had been used but I'd reduced the oil substantially so this is what you can look out for.

Add water, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.

Add the asafoetida and fenugreek leaves plus the fried paneer and peas and bring to a boil again.


Simmer for 10 minutes until peas are tender and the sauce is slightly reduced. Add salt to taste then remove from the heat & stir in the cream.


Serve with plain boiled basmati rice and garnish with the chopped coriander leaves.








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Monday, 15 June 2015

Spicy Sichuan Pork Noodles


I think it is safe to say that this is not a pretty looking dish: in all honesty it looks beige and bland, and well, gloopy & bleurgh. But it tastes pretty good: of course I love pretty much all things Sichuan (well, maybe not intestines and the stranger bits of offal. I’ll give those a miss) so I would think that.

These are all things that are classed as store-cupboard to me but a trip to a Chinese supermarket (or an online shop) will sort you out. I think most larger normal supermarkets will stock most of the ingredients these days, with just the chilli bean paste possibly causing some problems. Speaking of which, what you are looking for contains broad beans: the 'beans' of the chilli 'beans'.

This is adapted from a recipe I saw on Good Food, an Australian food website.


Spicy Sichuan Pork Noodles
Serves 2


1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, toasted & ground
½ tbsp chilli bean paste
1½ tbsp sesame paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tbsp groundnut oil
a handful of fine green beans, trimmed & cut in half if particularly long
250g pork mince
1 tsp castor sugar
75ml water
2 spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal
200g rice noodles, soaked in v hot water for 5-10 mins until soft & pliable


In a small bowl mix together the chilli bean and sesame pastes, Shaoxing and soy.

Heat a wok until very hot. Add the oil and swirl around and then add the ginger & garlic pastes. Cook, stirring all the time, for about 30 seconds before adding the beans.

Cook the beans until just tender then add the pork mince.


Stir constantly and once the pork has lost its pinkness add about ⅔ of the Sichuan pepper as well as the sesame/soy sauce mixture and the sugar. Mix well and add the water, stirring well to combine.


Finally stir in the spring onions and rice noodles.


Serve immediately with the remaining Sichuan pepper sprinkled over.






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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Smoked Salmon & Sunblush Tomato Quiche


Having had a fairly successful attempt at Quiche Lorraine I armed myself with a new quiche tin and tried another. The inspiration for this was, I think, found here where the photos are beautiful and make me want to buy a new camera and lighting set up. Oh well, I can but dream: new babies kind of put paid to that sort of thing.

This is pretty good but remember that smoked salmon is pretty salty so don’t be tempted to season the filling with anything other than black pepper and nutmeg. I used sunblush tomatoes; those semi-dried ones that are stored in oil that you find on deli counters but you can use normal dried sun-dried tomatoes with no bother. I’d actually quite like to try this again with plain poached salmon in lieu of the smoked as I think it would be really good.


Quiche with Smoked Salmon & Sunblush Tomatoes
serves 4


ready-made shortcrust pastry, chilled
2 eggs + 1 yolk, beaten
100ml double cream
2 tbsp quark (or creme fraiche)
pinch of black pepper
pinch of ground nutmeg
150g smoked salmon, sliced into small strips
60g sunblush tomatoes in oil, wiped of oil & finely chopped
50g parmesan, freshly grated
pinch of cayenne
a few fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a 20p piece and line a nine inch quiche or loose bottomed tart tin. Leave the pastry overhang as it is and chill for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Take the pastry tin out of the fridge and line with baking paper. Fill with baking beans (if you don’t have any dried chickpeas or beans will work just as well) and “bake blind” for 15 minutes.

Remove the beans and baking paper and brush lightly with a little beaten egg (or spray with commercial egg glaze) before returning to the oven for 5 minutes. The egg glaze will help form a moisture-proof seal.

Reduce the oven temperature to 175C and carefully trim off the excess pastry with a sharp knife.

Beat together the eggs, milk, creme fraiche, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in all but 1 tbsp of the grated Parmesan.

Evenly distribute the salmon and tomatoes over the quiche crust and scatter the basil on top.


 Pour over the egg mixture.


Bake for 30 minutes the sprinkle the reserved cheese & cayenne on top and continue baking until top is golden and middle is just set.


Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to come down to room temperature. If you use a loose-bottom tin the easiest way to remove the quiche from the tin is to place it on an upturned jar, which will allow you to ease the sides away.

Using a palette knife or a fish slice, slide it underneath and ease the tart carefully on to a plate or board, ready to serve.






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Thursday, 21 May 2015

Italian Sausage & Chilli Pesto Pasta


This was inspired by a picture I saw on Pinterest that looked delicious but had no real accompanying recipe as such. The sauce has a base of fresh chilli pesto, bought from a stall at a weekly farmer’s market in the quadrant bit at the back of Guy’s Hospital (its a lovely space actually, a hidden part of London). I also grabbed some Italian sausages there, skinned them and crumbled up and fried the meat. Not much more to it really, some black olives (I used kalamata but I think those wrinkly, very salty cured ones that come in jars would be excellent in this), toasted pine nuts, a bit of basil and some Pecorino.

So thank you for whosoever pinned that particular picture: this is simplicity itself, and delicious with it.


Italian Sausage & Chilli Pesto Pasta
serves 2


2 Italian sausages, skinned and roughly crumbled
1 tsp garlic olive oil
glug red wine
4 tbsp chilli pesto
handful black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
small handful basil leaves, torn
200g wholewheat spaghetti
Pecorino, to serve


Put the pasta on to boil in salted water in a large pan.

Meanwhile fry off the sausage in the garlic oil until browned and resembling coarse mince. Add a glug of wine and let it bubble down before throwing in the olives and pesto.


When the pasta is al dente drain, reserving a little cooking water, and then mix the pasta in with the sausage and pesto sauce. Combine well and add a little of the cooking water to loosen the sauce slightly.

Serve immediately scattered with pines nuts, basil and Pecorino.






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