Thursday 30 October 2008

Recipe - Cottage-ish pie

I must get it out straight away, there's no hiding it. This is one of the best dishes I've cooked and eaten for quite some time. I know it's considered bad form to brag about your own accomplishments but in this case I don't give a flying f... It was just awesome. ;)

If you just try one of my recipes ever, make this one it. It's a perfect winter warmer and such comfort food that you'll be able to take the hard knocks of life with a smile on your face for quite some time.

I call it cottage-ish pie since I did freestyle it a bit as per my usual way. The baked beans adds a bit of a different texture while the grated carrot adds some crunchiness as well as some extra liquid so it doesn't get too dry. Dry cottage pie is just not very nice.

As you notice from the ingredients I added Dijon mustard to the mash. It gives it a nice bite and changes the colour a little bit. If you don't like Dijon, why not try adding some horseradish sauce? Hey, go the extra distance and score extra kinkyness points by using Wasabi!

Enough waffling, over to the recipe...

Ingredients (serves about 4)
For the topping
A large batch of creamy mash, use about 800g potatoes to make it
Dijon mustard (optional)

For the filling
500g beef mince
1 onion, diced
Garlic, finely diced - to taste
Frozen peas, one to two good handfuls
1 large carrot, grated
1 can of Heinz baked beans
Tabasco (optional)
Worcestershire Sauce
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200c.

Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan on a medium heat. Add the mince and let it fry for a little bit. Once the mince starts to colour add in the onion and garlic.

Let this fry for a while until the mince is cooked and most of the liquid has cooked away. Add salt, pepper, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce to taste. Stir in the frozen peas and let them warm through for a minute or two.

In the meantime prepare the mash, don't forget to stir in two to three teaspoons of a good size worth of Dijon mustard. Make sure to make the mash nice and creamy. Season well.

When the mince starts to look ready, add in the baked beans and the carrot. Stir through and turn off the heat.

Pour the mince into a 2 liter oven safe casserole dish. Spoon the mash on top and make sure to get an even layer. If you feel like it, use a fork to make some nice patterns.

Put the casserole dish in the oven until the mash starts to get a nice brown colour as well as turning a bit crispy. This should take about 25 - 30 minutes, but keep it there until you feel happy with the look of it all.


Wednesday 29 October 2008

Recipe - Chicken in a tomato and chipotle sauce

Well, I'm back...

After having had a busy weekend with a bonfire party and the NFL game in London I now feel like I'm getting a cold.

Someone a couple of Twiglets short of a full bag had decided that it was a good idea to have the pre-match tailgating party outdoors. In London. In October. Great. I wonder what the odds was for rain?

Not even the medicinal beers I prescribed myself seems to have helped to keep the cold away. Must remember to have more beers next time in order to avoid the cold.

I've always found that spicy food helps when you got a cold, at worst it all it does it clear your sinuses.

I used three dried chipotles which gave it quite a good kick. As always, freestyle it to suit you and your tastebuds. If you want to tone down the heat you can always try and remove all or most of the seeds.

You can serve this with rice, or why not in tortillas or over some nacho chips?

Ingredients (serves 2 - 4)
2 chicken breasts, cut into bitesized chunks
2 onions, halved and sliced fairly thinly
Dried chipotle chilies, to taste
Garlic, finely chopped - to taste
1 green pepper
1 can of sweet corn
1 can of crushed tomates
Olive oil
Cooked rice

Start by rehydrating the chilies as per the instruction on the package. Once rehydrated, slice the chilies in a fashion to suit you. Preserve the liquid you rehydrated them in.

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan on medium heat and add the onions. Once the onions have started to brown you can add the chicken pieces. Add the garlic and some seasoning.

Fry the chicken until it starts to colour nicely. Then add the chilies and the pepper. Let this fry for a minute or two and then add the tomatoes, sweet corn and about 200 ml of the preserved liquid. Stir well.

Cover the pan with a lid. Once it's boiling turn down the heat and let it simmer until the sauce thickens nicely.

Serve with rice, or whatever you fancy really.


Saturday 25 October 2008

Cheese and Bacon Pasta Salad

This is another posting that I don't really want to call a recipe. This is more meant to be a sort of inspiration.

The reason behind this dish is that I needed to clear the fridge of some stuff that is about to expire. I'm invited to a big bonfire party on Saturday and Sunday will be spent at Wembley watching Chargers v Saints. That's American Football for those of you who aren't interested in sport. ;)

Well, back to the fridge clearing. I had a rummage around in both the fridge and the cupboards and came up with this, a simple pasta salad. I prefer cold pasta salads, so this was served cold.

The ingredients this time was as follows: Cooked pasta, crispy smoked bacon cut into small pieces, diced Emmenthal cheese, a can of sweetcorn, diced red onion and finally some diced red pepper. Finish off with some freshly cracked black pepper and you're there. Serve with some kind of dressing you like.

Easy to make and even easier to freestyle...


Friday 24 October 2008

Recipe - Honey and balsamic vinegar marinated chicken stirfry

Stirfries are awesome if you're a little bit short on time. It's quick to prepare and cook and it's quite hard to fail with them to be honest.

The only thing that takes some time with this recipe is marinating the chicken and that really doesn't need you for anything. Just put it all into a freezer bag, pop it into the fridge and then take it out a little while before it is time to cook. Sorted.

I served this with rice, but you could just as well serve it with noodles for example. Have some soy sauce or sweet thai chili sauce on the side.

Boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks and/or strips
Runny honey
Balsamic vinegar
Carrot, cut into sticks
Bambo shoots
Peppers, sliced
Spring onions, sliced - both white and green parts
Lime juice
Sesame seeds
Olive oil
Cooked rice

Put the chicken pieces in a freezer bag together with honey, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix well to make sure it coats all of the chicken. Put in the fridge for at least an hour, or even better -over night.

Heat the olive oil in a non stick frying pan or wok. Once really hot pour in the chicken, together with all of the marinade. Let this fry until the chicken starts to caramelize a bit. Add the carrot and bambo shoots, keep frying and stirring. After a minute or two add in the peppers and spring onion as well as some lime juice to taste. Taste and add salt, pepper and more lime juice if needed. Fry and stir for a minute or two more, add the sesame seeds and let them cook with the rest until they start to pop.

Serve with rice or noodles.

Thursday 23 October 2008

Recipe - Scottish Casserole | Recept - Skottegryta

Talk about a trip down memory lane. This was a attempt to recreate a dish they used to serve for lunch at school when I was a kid. Yes, they did actually have things like kitchens and stuff when I was a kid. ;)

This is called Scottish Casserole, Skottegryta in Swedish, and I guess it was a reference to the notion that the Scots are known for being a bit tight on the money as this is a very frugal dish. These days we all know that it is just a national stereotype that the Scottish are tight bastards. *Nods towards Mr Lynch, a very nice and generous manager of Scottish descent* :)

I searched for a recipe for this dish on Google but all I could find was people posting that they couldn't find a recipe for it. Helpful, really helpful. So I had to try and remember what it tasted like and then figure out how to cook it.

So, this is what I came up with. Use it as a base and then work from there. I could almost say, freestyle it.

Ingredients (serves 2 -4)
400ml beef stock
500g beef mince
1kg potatoes, peeled and cut into 3mm slices
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
Olive oil
Pickled gherkins, sliced

Preheat the oven to 200c.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the seasoned mince until nicely browned.

Grease an ovenproof dish with butter.

Layer the potato slices,onion and mince in the buttered dish - finishing with a layer of potatoes. Pour the beef stock over it all.

Place the tray in the middle of the oven and cook for 60 - 75 minutes or until the potatoes are nice and soft and cooked to your liking.

Serve with sliced gherkins.


Wednesday 22 October 2008

Recipe - Tropical Sunshine Pork Burgers

When I woke up this morning the rain was whipped against my windows by the strong winds. Not the best start to a week to tell the truth.

The autumn is here now and it's dark when I go to work and almost dark by the time I leave work to go home. Time for a little bit of tropical sunshine to lift the spirits...

As always there's loads of room for you to freestyle things. Add coconut milk, onions, rum or whatever takes your fancy in the marinade. Anything that makes you to feel happy really.

Boneless pork chops, pork loins or similar
Bread rolls
1 can of pineapple rings
Lime or lemon juice
1 - 2 garlic cloves, crushed
Pepper, thinly sliced

Make the marinade by pouring the juice from the can of pineapple rings into a freezer bag, add lemon or lime juice, the garlic, salt, pepper and paprika. Pop in the pork chops and make sure to mix it up properly. Leave the bag in the fridge for up to 24 hours, the longer the better.

Heat the grill in the oven (or use barbecue alternatively a ridged frying pan). In the meantime remove and drain the pork chops. Put the pork chops on a grill pan and put in under the grill until nicely browned, turn over and finish off the other side.

Once cooked remove from the grill pan and trim off the fat etc. While you are trimming the pork chops, grill the pineapple rings until they start to brown.

Split the bread rolls. Spread the lower half with some mayonnaise, put a pork chop on top of that. Finish off with a pineapple ring, a pepper slice and the top half of the bread roll.


Tuesday 21 October 2008

Recipe - Twice cooked racks of loin ribs

My favourite way of cooking ribs is on the barbecue where I can slowcook/smoke them until they are falling of the bone and full of smoky flavour.

Since I moved I had to go through a very emotional divorce from my beloved gas barbecue, forcing me to find out a new way of cooking a couple of racks of ribs. Just putting them under the grill would just result in them being hard and nasty to bite in to. What I figured out would make it possible to have the fall-off-bone-goodness combined with a nice crispy surface.

You should really make your own barbecue sauce for this but I had a bottle of Jardine's Texas Smoky Mesquite Cooking & BBQ Sauce that was begging to be involved. Who am I to say no to that offer...

I used jerk seasoning but as always, freestyle it. Use fresh herbs, lemon or whatever takes your fancy.

Don't forget the kitchen towels and the bowls of lemon water, this is finger food at its stickiest. Awesome... ;)

2 racks of loin ribs
Olive oil
Garlic, crushed or thinly sliced
Jerk seasoning
Barbecue sauce

Pre-heat the oven to 250c.

Put some kitchen foil - enough to wrap a rack of ribs in, shiny side up, on your chopping board. Place a rack of ribs on the foil. Drizzle with olive oil, scatter with salt, put on the garlic, apply spices/herbs etc. Seal the foil parcel tightly and place on a baking tray. Repeat for the amount of racks you are cooking.

Put the tray into the oven. After 30 minutes, turn down the oven to 125c and keep the racks in there for another 90 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and open the foil parcels carefully to allow the racks to cool down. Turn off the oven.

Once they've cooled down sufficiently, 15 - 20 minutes, brush the meaty side of the ribs liberally with barbecue sauce. Heat up the grill in the oven and once it's hot put the racks under the grill. Let them grill until the sauce caramelizes, about 2 - 3 minutes.

Slice and serve with for example some more barbecue sauce to dip in, coleslaw and freshly baked bread rolls.


Monday 20 October 2008

Recipe - Creole Cordon Bleu

This is an old favourite of mine, one that I haven't revisited for a fair few years. Something that needed rectifying.

It's a very rich dish and I'm sure that your doctor would have a stroke himself if he looked at the ingredients. But hey, sometimes you need to treat yourself a bit. You can't eat things like this every day, but every now and then do cook somehting like this just to keep yourself happy.

Ingredients (serves 6)
6 skinless chicken breasts
Creole/Cajun seasoning
Olive oil
275g freshly grated parmesan
100g finely diced smoked bacon, fried
75 finely chopped spring onion
500 ml double cream
1 tsp black pepper
100g cold butter
Cooked white rice

Preheat the oven to 180c.

Sprinkle the chicken breasts with the seasoning. Heat the oil in a pan on high heat and cock for 6 - 7 minutes, turning once. Transfer the chicken breasts to a baking tray and put into the oven for about 5 minutes.

When the time is up, turn on the grill and sprinkle the chicken breasts with a couple of tablespoons of parmesan cheese and put them under the grill until the cheese has melted.

In the meantime put the bacon, onion, cream and pepper in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Keep it simmering for 5 - 6 minutes to reduce, then stir in the butter on tablespoon at a time. Once the butter has melted, stir in the remaining parmesan cheese.

Put the rice and chicken on a plate and cover with the sauce.


Sunday 19 October 2008

Credit Crunch Eggs

With the current economic crisis we all have to be more frugal. We cannot use our Beluga just to feed our chihuahuas, we need to make sure to find more uses for it than that.

Jokes aside, this is a classic nibble from when I grew up. I'd say that most Swedes in my age have eaten these little goodies. They're a really nice little starter or hors d'oeuvre and they're dead easy to make.

Cook some eggs until hardboiled, and let them cool down fully. Once cool, slice them in half. Put a dollop of mayonnaise on each half and finish off with a spoonful or so of caviar. I used lumpfish caviar, but heck - use some expensive stuff if you can afford it. If you want to be extra fancy you can make some with black caviar and some with red caviar.

Keep them in the fridge under some clingfilm until it's time to serve. Make sure to take them out a little bit beforehand so that they aren't too cold.

If you are serving them at a party or want to impress - use a icing piper to apply the mayo in a nicer way than I did with these. To be honest, I made them as a snack for my self at 22:15 in the evening so I didn't really care much about the looks of them. ;)


Saturday 18 October 2008

Recipe - Quick carrot soup

This is a recipe I found online on a Swedish food site. I thought it looked quite appealing. I was totally beat tonight and couldn't really be bothered with any lengthy cooking session.

It tasted really nice but at least I think that it needs quite a bit of seasoning since carrot isn't the most flavourful vegetable out there.

0,5l peeled and grated carrot (about three - four carrots)
1 leek, thinly sliced
1l water
2 chicken stock cubes
200g (1 tub) Philadelphia with herbs and garlic

Put the water, crumbled stock cubes, carrots and leek in a pot and bring this to a boil. Let this boil for 5 minutes. Stir in the Philadelphia and keep boiling until the cheese has melted.

Season to taste and serve with some breaded rolls on the side.


Friday 17 October 2008

Recipe - Pan fried pork medallions with apple and ginger sauce and creamy pototo gratin

This was my first try with making an apple sauce and I must say that it was much easier than I thought it would be. I had a look at various recipes to get an idea as to how to make the sauce.

The only thing I really freestyled was the addition of the grated ginger. It made the kitchen smell really nice and it did enhance the flavour of the sauce - well worth a try next time you make apple sauce to go with your pork.

Pork medallions
Olive oil

For the potato gratin (serves 4 - 6)
30g butter
400ml milk
200ml double cream
3 - 4 cloves crushed garlic (less if you don't want that much garlic kick)
1.5kg potatoes, peeled and cut into 3mm slices
1 - 2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
Gruyère cheese, grated

For the apple sauce (serves 2 - 4)
1 Bramley cooking apple, cored, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
1 - 2 cm piece of root ginger, peeled and finely grated
3 - 4 tbsp water
A good squeeze of lemon juice
1 - 2 tsp brown sugar (more if needed)


Potato gratin
Preheat the oven to 190c.

Grease an ovenproof dish with butter.

Put the milk, cream, garlic and seasoning in a pan. Bring to a simmer on a medium heat, check for seasoning.

Lay the potatoes and onion slices in the buttered dish and pour the milk over.

Place the tray in the middle of the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the tray and scatter the grated cheese on top. Put the tray back in for another 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the cheese nicely melted.

Apple sauce
Put the apples in a saucepan with the ginger, lemon juice and water. Cover and cook over a low heat until they are soft and mushy.

Take off the heat and add sugar to taste.

Serve warm or cool depending on your own taste.

Pork medallions
Heat oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Season the pork, put it into the pan and fry until nicely coloured on both sides. To achieve this, don't forget to flip the medallions half way through the cooking process.

If you time all three items correctly you should be able to serve it together nice and hot.


Thursday 16 October 2008

Recipe - Roast Beef with Puy Lentils

I found a nice Mikey-sized piece of topside beef in my local supermarket and thought that a roast was in order.

There's always recommended cooking times on the packaging but I never trust them. It depends so much on the size/shape of the roast that you can't really go on time. I use my meat thermometer to get it my way.

I like it rare so I normally go for a internal temperature of 49c- 52c, medium rare would be around 55c - 60c, medium 63c - 66c and cremated, sorry, well done would be 68c - 74c.

Topside beef
Mustard powder
Yellow pepper, sliced and fried in some olive oil
Puy lentils, cooked as per the instruction on the packet
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Horseradish sauce (optional)

Heat the oven to 160c.

Make sure that the beef is brought to room temperature. Rub the roast with mustard powder, salt and pepper.

Heat some olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat and seal the roast on all sides. This will take a couple of minutes.

Insert the meat thermometer into the roast and put the roast in the oven. Roast until done to you liking (see above for recommnedations). Once that temperature is reached, remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 5 - 10 minutes.

In the meantime mix the fried pepper with the lentils and put on a plate. Drizzle with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Slice the meat and put on the plate. If you like it, put a dollop of horseradish sauce on the side.


Wednesday 15 October 2008

Pasta bake

I didn't really want to label this posting as a recipe, see it more as a gentle guideline and some inspiration ;)

The other day when I was making empanadas I realised that I had made far too much of the filling. Throwing it out was never a question so I froze it. However, I needed to regain that freezer space so I had to come up with something to do with it. Empanadas again? Naah, too soon since the last time.

What I came up with was to make a pasta bake. What I did was to defrost the mince, add some sliced mushrooms, finely chopped garlic and fry that off for a minute or two. Then in with a can of chopped tomatoes and some spices like oregano etc.

In the meantime I cooked some conchligiette pasta until al dente. Once the pasta was drained I mixed it with the 'sort of bolognese sauce' I just had created. That went into a oven safe casserole dish. On top of the mixture I put some grated cheese that was mixed with breadcrumbs. Since I like oregano I chucked some of that on top to finish it off.

The cassserole dish went into a 200c oven until the cheese had melted and started to turn brown. Until it looked right, if you know what I mean.

Easy, frugal and tasty. What more can you really ask for after a long Monday at work? Well, I could have asked for a glass of Ravenswood Vintners Blend, a nice Californian Zinfandel from 2005. Which I did. Since I can't say no to myself I poured myself a glass of this excellent wine to enjoy together with my pasta. Result!


Tuesday 14 October 2008

Recipe - Crispy Duck Breast

To duck or not to duck is not really a question. Duck, cooked correctly, is a very nice dish. It could be simple duck breast like this or some out of this world French version that takes hours, if not days, to prepare and cook.

I still haven't cooked a whole duck, but that day is coming. In the meantime you'll have to do with my way of cooking duck breasts.

I served this with some pan fried potatoes and lardons, creamy leek and some balsamic glaze. Some days, when I can be bothered, I use the pan juices to make something like a cherry and red wine reduction to go with the breasts. You can freestyle your way of serving duck breasts quite a lot. Serve it with potato mash, noodles or why not in a soup?

Ingredients (serves 1)
1 duck breast, skin on
Chinese five spice

Heat the oven to 200c.

Score the skin of the duck breasts in a criss-cross pattern with a sharp knife. Season with the Chinese five spice, salt and pepper. Rub the spices into the skin and make sure to get some into the scores.

Heat up a ovenproof frying pan (or a roasting tray) on a low-medium heat. Pop in the duck breast, skin side down, and let it slowly fry for 10 - 12 minutes. Make sure to be patient and don't rush things at this stage, this is where you lay the ground for the crispy skin.

When the time is up, pour off the excess fat from the pan. Turn the breast skin side up and put the pan into the oven for about 6 - 8 minutes. Leave it longer for a more cooked result or if the breasts are of the thicker variety.

Take the pan out of the oven and let the breast rest for about 5 minutes. This is very important when you cook duck breasts since they leak quite a lot of fluid after coming out of the oven and most people don't like the look of that. Even worse, it destroys the look of your plating efforts! ;)

Serve with your choice of accompaniments.


Monday 13 October 2008

Foodbuzz Publisher Community Launches

You've seen the banners for Foodbuzz on my blog for quite some time.

Today is the official launch so why don't you click on either the banners or this link and have a look at what it's all about?

Lazy Sunday Brunch - Grated potato cakes with fried eggs

Sometimes simple is best...

Grate a couple of potatoes, squeeze out as much of the fluids as possible. Put into a bowl, mix in an egg and salt and pepper. Make into small patties. Fry in a medium hot frying pan until nicely golden. Flip. Fry until golden on the other side too. Serve with fried eggs.


Sunday 12 October 2008

Recipe - Fried Smoked Salmon Salad

Frying smoked salmon is quite an interesting way of using smoked salmon. A way of cooking it that I picked up from a blind, one-legged, Chinese fellow I met whilst I was serving a 10 year prison sentence in Ecuador for gun-running on the Amazon. Or it might have been off a recipe card from Sainsbury's a couple of years ago. I can't really remember, my memory is a bit hazy when it comes to the details on this... ;)

What you need is some thinly sliced smoked salmon and a good non-stick frying pan. Those two items are the only ones I'd say you really need for this, the rest you can just freestyle out of what you got at home. Add and subtract ingredients as you see fit and make it suit your cupboards and needs.

This can be served as a quite kinky starter or as a fully blown dish. The choice is yours, mon ami!

Smoked salmon, sliced into strips
Mixed lettuce
Radishes, thinly sliced
Cucumber, de-seeded and thinly sliced
Raspberry Vinegar

Mix the lettuce, radishes and cucumber slices.

Heat a non-stick frying pan on a medium to high heat. Fry the salmon slices until they start changing colour, turn over and fry for a little bit longer.

Mix the fried salmon with the vegetables and plate it. Drizzle with raspberry vinegar.


Saturday 11 October 2008

May the pisstake commence... ;)

What you see in this picture is what I refer to as my 'foodboard'. This is what I use to plan my cooking a week or more ahead. What's probably worse, I also use it to plan my blog posts.

I'm sure that I'll hear lots about my borderline OCD behaviour when it comes to my cooking and blogging but I don't really care. It sure helps me plan my purchases and makes me waste less vegetables etc. In the end it also helps me save money by not wasting too much.

Hopefully I'm not alone with some kind of forward planning when it comes to cooking.

By the way, this picture is a couple of days old - just so I didn't give away my blog schedule. So come on, hit me with your best comments ;)

Friday 10 October 2008

Recipe - Grated Gratin

This is a bit off an odd one, but it's really nice. I had it as main dinner, the leftovers will be lunch, but it could work as a side dish too.

If you have friends who are weird, or as they might prefer it; vegetarians, you can leave out the ham and make sure to use veggie cheese and hey presto you got a vegetarian dish. ;)

For once I didn't go for the so-strong-that-it-blows-your-socks-off cheese, mainly because I didn't want it to overpower the ham. However, if you were to go for Black Forest Ham you could go for industrial strength cheese without a problem.

As always, freestyle it. Add and subtract ingredients according to what you have at home and what you like.

Ingredients (serves 2 - 4)
600g potatoes, peeled
2 carrots, peeled
1 courgette, washed
100g air dried or smoked ham, cut into strips
150g cheese, grated
100ml double cream
1 teaspoon fresh thyme

Heat the oven to 225c.

In the meantime grate the vegetables on the coarsest side of your box grater. Squeeze as much of the fluid as possible out of the vegetables. Squeeze a bit more, just to be on the safe side.

Mix the vegetables, ham, cheese, cream and thyme in a bowl and then transfer it into a Pyrex casserole dish or similar. Season very thoroughly.

Pop it into the oven for about 35 - 40 minutes.

Serve with a crisp salad.


Thursday 9 October 2008

Recipe - Mini Empanadas

I'm never comfortable working with pastry, as you probably can see from the photo, but I have told myself that I need to get better with it. It really doesn't agree with me but I won't be the one of us two who budges first.

These mini empanadas works nice for dinner, or why not use them as a nibble for a party or as a starter? You can make the filling quite tame and then let your guests adjust the heat by providing different types of dips and sauces.

I cheated and used Jus-Rol ready rolled shortcrust pastry sheets but there's lots of recipes around for the proper dough. It's not that hard to make, even I have managed in the past, but I just couldn't be bothered tonight.

Ingredients (makes about 12)
250 g mince
1 onion, chopped
1 small can of sweet corn
1 - 2 tablespoons tomato paste/puree
2 packs of Jus-Rol ready rolled shortcrust pastry
1 egg, beaten
Olive oil
Spice mix, for example cajun
Water, if needed

Heat the oven to 200c.

Heat the olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add the mince and let it fry until it starts to brown. Add the onion and the tomato paste and let this fry for a little while. Season to taste and add a little water if it's getting too dry. Stir in the sweet corn and let it heat through. Let this mixture cool down.

Put the pastry sheets on your chopping board and use a 10cm/4in cutter to make circles. Put about one tablespoon of the mince mixture onto each circle and fold double. Use a fork to seal the edge and baste with the egg mixture.

Put onto a non stick oven tray or similar and put into the oven for about 20 minutes or until nicely crisp and coloured.

Serve with hot/dipping sauces and a crisp salad.


Wednesday 8 October 2008

Recipe - Sausages with tomatoes and baked beans

Some days all you want is a comforting meal without having to make too much of an effort. Being able to use just one pan and thus save on the washing up is just an added bonus.

Try to use as good quality sausages as you can get. I used pork and garlic ones but I could see pork and leek work nicely for example.

As you can see from the ingredients I used a Jerk seasoning mix but use what you have/like. Cajun mix could work a charm methinks. If you want more of a kick, add some Tabasco or any kind of hotsauce really.

Ingredients (serves 2 - 4)
1 pack of pork sausages, about 450g
1 large red onion, sliced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes, about 400g
1 tin of baked beans, about 400g
1 tablespoon Jerk seasoning
Olive oil

Heat the oil on medium heat and add the sausages. Cook the sausages until they start to brown properly. Add the onion and fry for another couple of minutes so it starts to brown too.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and let it all simmer for 10 minutes.


Tuesday 7 October 2008

Recipe - Miso Soup with Honey Glazed Chicken and Noodles

It's getting quite cold in the evenings here now so I thought it could be time for a nice and warming soup.

As always with my recipes, freestyle it. Add and subtract ingredients as you like. Make it to suit you. That way we all stay happy. ;)

The egg noodles I used for this came in small 'nests' and they needed to simmer for three minutes. Adjust the cooking time to the type of noodles you use.

If you don't want it to be too spicy leave out the chillies, or try and get rid of all the seeds.

Ingredients (serves 2 - 4)
1l - 1.2l miso soup
1 large or 2 small chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks
A handful or two of frozen peas
1/2 - 1 red onion, sliced
1 - 2 chillies, sliced
1 small tin of sweet corn
1 - 2 nests of medium egg noodles
Worcestershire sauce
Runny honey
Olive Oil

Start by frying the seasoned chicken pieces in the olive oil on a medium heat. When they start to gain colour, add a good glug or two of Worcestershire sauce. Keep frying and this should bubble and caramelize quite nicely. Coming close to be being fully cooked, pour in a good tablespoon or two of the honey and stir well. Once the honey has caramelized put the pan to the side and keep the chicken pieces warm.

Add the peas, sweet corn, onion and chillies to the miso soup and bring it to a boil. Once boiling add the noodles and cook according to the instructions on the package. Toward the end of the boiling time, add the chicken and give it all a good stir.

Pour into serving bowls.


Monday 6 October 2008

Saturday's little pick-me-up - Steak Sandwich

This Friday gone I went down the pub with some colleagues for a couple of beverages. Needless to say there wasn't much food involved, or rather none at all.

Waking up on Saturday I felt a little bit brittle and very hungry so I decided that a steak sandwich was what was needed.

I spread the bottom half of a freshly baked (purchased, not home baked) roll with some mayonnaise. On top of that I put some rocket (arugula) and a couple of slices of juicy tomato. I caramelized sliced onions with olive oil and balsamic vinegar that went on top of the tomatoes, followed by the steak. To finish it all off I crumbled some gorgonzola on top off the steak and let that melt.

Exactly what I needed....

Sunday 5 October 2008

The best chilli sauce. In the world. Ever.

I've always been a fan of hot and spicy food. This has lead me down some nice food avenues, and some not so nice.

I can't help myself if I find a new hot sauce when I'm out shopping. My place is literally crawling with various hot sauces, jellies, salsas and so on.

However, this is probably the best chilli sauce I've ever tried. It's called Sriracha Hot Sauce and I buy it from Chinese/Oriental supermarkets here in the UK. It creeps up on you, it starts out quite nice and mild. Then you taste the garlic - lots of it - seconds before the sledgehammer hits you.

It's absolutely not unbearably hot, but it does pack a punch.

If you haven't tried it yet, go for a trip to your friendly local Oriental supermarket. I can almost guarantee that you won't be disappointed.

Saturday 4 October 2008

Recipe - Chicken breasts baked in a tomato sauce

This is another one of my 'fallback' recipes. Something I come back to time after time and each time it's a little bit different. It can easily be freestyled to suit what you got in your cupboards/fridge.

The avid reader will spot that I used leeks, again, but you can use normal onions instead. I'm all leeked out for the moment now though, finally. ;)

If you want to you could chuck in some peas, sweet corn or whatever takes your fancy really.

This time I choose to serve it with rice but it goes just as well with mash or pasta for example. I didn't have any bread at home but this dish goes very well with some nice and crispy garlic bread.

Ingredients (serves 2 - 4)
2 chicken breasts, sliced in half to speed up the frying
2 leeks, sliced
2 - 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400 g chopped tomatoes
1 ball of Mozzarella, sliced and torn
Mixed herbs
Olive oil

Heat the oven to 220c.

Season the chicken breasts and fry them in a pan with some olive oil on a medium heat until nicely coloured and cooked through. Put them to the side in small-ish oven safe casserole dish.

Lower the heat a notch and if needed add some more olive oil before you start frying the leeks and the garlic. Let the leeks sweat until they start to soften. Once you're there pour the contents of the pan into the casserole dish.

Add the tomatoes and mixed herbs to the casserole dish and give it all a good stir. Put in the mozzarella, making sure to distribute it evenly. Season a bit more and then it's time for some quality oven time.

Let it stay in the oven for about 15 - 20 minutes or until the Mozzarella has melted nicely and are turning golden.


Friday 3 October 2008

Recipe - Creamy Pork, Leek and Lardon pasta sauce

Having noticed that pork and leek recipes are very welcome with my readers I now shamelessly play on this with another recipe containing those ingredients. Bad Mikey... ;)

I couldn't really decide what to cook the other day and it wasn't until I was walking around the supermarket that I decided on this. I had two leeks at home that were close to getting past it I grabbed the other stuff and got home to get down to some cooking.

Oh yeah, this photo is the first one where I have used my new light. Not really there yet, but some more experimentation and I think it will really help me getting some better photos for you guys.

Ingredients (serves 2 - 4)
2 leeks, fairly thinly sliced
100g smoked lardons
500g pork mince
300 ml creme fraiche
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Pasta, cooked by the instructions on the package

Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Add the leek slices and let it cook until the leeks start to soften.

Add the lardons and fry for another couple of minutes before adding the pork mince. Season generously. Let all this fry away until the mince is cooked through.

Pour in the creme fraiche and let it all bubble away for a couple of minutes. Add lemon juice and seasoning according to taste.

Serve with pasta.


Thursday 2 October 2008

A new light in my life...

Whoever designed my kitchen clearly didn't have food photography in his/hers mind. Getting good lighting in there is really hard. Pair that with the winter coming up with even worse natural lighting and you have a problem.

Problems are there to be solved so I google'd around a bit and found some really good help and ideas on a couple of other food blogs. Two of them being Steamy Kitchen and VeganYumYum.

Both those sites mentioned or recommended the Lowel EGOLight's.

After having read up on them I decided that one of those could be what I needed. After a bit more googling I found a place here in the UK who sells them, ProKit. After locating the product on their pages I ordered a kit.

Being what seems like really good people they delivered the next day. What I got was a flat pack with some parts to assemble. The assembly was quick and easy and I had the light kit up and running in no time at all.

I think it will take some time to get used to and get the best out of these but I'll get back with reviews and tips later on as I stumble forward.

The contents of the box, pre-assembly.

After assembly, reflector to the left and the light itself to the right.

Same stuff, just viewing the back of the light.

The light turned on, still in the same lighting conditions as the earlier pictures. I guess it really freaked out the cameras sensors. ;)

Wednesday 1 October 2008

Johnny Rotten in his first tv ad ever. For butter?!?

Yes it's true. True genius if you ask me.

Have a look here on the Guardian.

Recipe - Homemade Steak and Gorgonzola Pizza

I think this serves more as inspiration than a recipe. Use this as a start and make a pizza that suits you and your taste. I won't bother with measurements etc, just use the force Luke! Go with your gut feeling and add what you like in proportions you think will work. What's the worst that can happen? It's not like the pizza council will come and drag your sorry ass in front of the pizza court or something.

Why make your own pizza? Why not? You save money, get it exactly as you want and you know that it is made with love using fresh ingredients. Another bonus is that you'll avoid potentially awkward situations. Like last time I called Domino's to get a pizza delivered. I ordered a thin crusty Supreme. When the doorbell rang Diana Ross stood outside...

If you can't be bothered to make your own sauce, use ready made pasta sauce for example. You could even mix some tomato paste and ketchup if you're in that mood. However - whatever you do, please don't use one of those pre-made pizza bases. They are pure evil, sprung directly from the loins of the devil!

Something that made this pizza taste even better was to eat it whilst watching the mighty Arsenal crush Porto in Champions League. ;)

Ingredients (serves 1)
1 batch of pizza dough
Steak, cut into thin strips
Gorgonzola, crumbled
Mozzarella, torn
Marinara sauce
Garlic, cut into paper thin slices
Red pepper, cut into strips
Red onion, halved and then sliced

Start by frying the seasoned steak strips until they start to get some colour. Put them to the side.

Heat the oven to about 220c - 240c.

In the meantime prepare the pizza dough as per the instructions in your recipe/on the package.

When the dough is ready and is rolled into a circle and placed on a baking tray or similar it's time for the fun stuff.

Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce on the pizza base. Scatter the garlic, followed by the mozzarella and some ground pepper. Place out the red pepper, onion and steak slices. Finish off with the crumbled gorgonzola.

Chuck it all into the oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and gained a healthy golden brown colour. Remove from the oven, cut into slices and...