Friday 29 May 2009

Recipe - Spaghetti with Roasted Baby Plum Tomatoes

Yes, I know. I'm going all vegetarian on you again. Please hang in there though, because these roasted tomatoes rock. They rock so hard that they might blow your socks off...

This time I just mixed them up with some spaghetti but you can use them in so many more ways than that. Use them on homemade pizza, let them cool down and some fresh chopped herbs to make a nice side/salsa for grilled meats or why not build an awesome baguette with some salami and stuff? I'm sure that you can figure out many more uses for them.

I used baby plums, if you use bigger ones - adjust the timings upwards in order to cook them well.

For once I didn't have any parmesan at home, but if you have some - it is awesome to grate some of it on top of this dish.

Let's have a look at the recipe...

Ingredients (makes about 2 portions)
250g baby plum tomatoes, cut lengthwise
2 tbsp olive oil + some for drizzling
Freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp mixed dried herbs
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Fresh basil leaves, torn

2 portions of spaghetti, cooked per the instructions on the packaging

Preheat the oven to 220c.

Put some tinfoil onto a baking sheet. Put the tomatoes onto the tinfoil, cut side up, and drizzle with some olive oil and season well. Mix the olive oil, mixed dried herbs and garlic in a non-reactive bowl.

Pop the baking tray into the oven for about 20 minutes or until they start to turn brown.

Once the tomatoes have reached this stage, take them out and mix in with the contents of the bowl. Pour the tomato mix back onto the baking tray and put back into the oven for about 5 minutes.

Remove the tray, pour the tomatoes back into the same bowl and stir in the basil.

Stir the tomato mix through the spaghetti and serve up.


Thursday 28 May 2009

Recipe - Honey and Mustard marinated Salmon served with Mikey's Swedish Pickled Cucumbers and New Potatoes

This is a really quick dish to make. Well, at least if you disregard the time you spend marinating the salmon and the cucumber. ;)

The cucumber can easily be prepared the night before, I'd actually go as far as saying that you should prepare it the night before. Just to make sure to get the flavour to bite properly. As you see I haven't given any set proportions for the marinade - it's a bit of trial and error really. It all depends on your personal preferences - freestyle it until you're happy with the taste.

The pickled cucumbers reminds me of dinners from when I was a kid, as do the salmon. There is something about the mix of the sweet honey and the sharp mustard that makes it very Swedish to me. Cooking the salmon this way really keeps it nice and moist.

Time for the recipe...

Ingredients (serves 4)
Mikey's Swedish Pickled Cucumbers
Cucumber, sliced very thinly (use a mandoline if you got one)
1 part white wine vinegar
2 - 3 parts water
A couple of good pinches of salt

Honey and Mustard Salmon
4 salmon fillets, skin on
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp runny honey

Mikey's Swedish Pickled Cucumbers
Put the cucumbers in a non-reactive bowl and add the other ingredients. Cover and put in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, preferably over night. Remove from the fridge before serving, drain the liquid and allow the cucumbers to reach room temperature. Taste the cucumbers, if you think they are too sharp - put them into a colander and run some fresh water over them to rinse off some of the vinegar.

Honey and Mustard Salmon
Add all the ingredients for the marinade to shallow dish, mixing it well. Pop in the salmon fillets, making sure to dip them well in the marinade to cover them. Leave the fillets skin side up, cover the dish and put it into the fridge for at least 2 - 3 hours.

When it's time to cook, pre-heat the oven to 200c.

Take out the fillets from the marinade and put them on a lightly oiled baking sheet, skin side down, and put into the oven for 12 minutes. Take the fillets out of the oven and sprinkle with some flakes of sea salt.

Serve with cucumber slices and boiled new potatoes.


Wednesday 27 May 2009

Recipe - Rib Eye Steaks with Mango & Fennel Salsa and Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

There are days when only a steak will suffice. You just can't beat the meaty goodness you get from a nicely cooked, or almost uncooked in my case, steak.

The sweet potato wedges were seasoned with smoked salt - a experiment that worked really well. I've had the smoked salt kicking around in my kitchen for some time but this was the first time I tried it. I'm sure that you'll get tired of me using it in various recipes soon but I really liked the extra dimension added by it so I'll be using it quite a bit now I think.

The final two parts to the equation were a very simple garlic butter and some leftover mango and fennel salsa. I'm banging my own drum again, but this was a very tasty dinner.

Enough bragging, time for the recipe...

Ingredients (serves 4 or so)
Mango and Fennel salsa
1 ripe mango, diced
1 small fennel bulb, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 - 2 chilies, deseeded and sliced
Juice from 1 lime
A couple of handfuls of coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped

Garlic butter (freestyle the proportions to suit your taste)
Unsalted butter, softened
Garlic, finely diced

Sweet potato wedges
2 - 4 sweet potatoes, washed and cut into wedges
Olive oil
Smoked salt
Mixed dried herbs

4 Rib eye steaks
Olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 220c.

Mix together all the ingredients for the salsa in a non-reactive bowl and put to the side to allow the flavours to combine. Once done, do the same for the garlic butter.

Pop the potato wedges into a big bowl, pour over some olive oil and chuck on some smoked salt, freshly ground pepper and mixed dried herbs. Mix well.

Put them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until done to your liking. Rotate the wedges a couple of times during the cooking to make sure to cook them evenly.

Heat a frying pan on a medium heat. Season the steaks and drizzle them with some olive oil. Cook the steaks to your liking. Let them rest for 5 - 10 minutes before serving.

Spoon some garlic butter on top of the steaks just before serving.


Tuesday 26 May 2009

Recipe - Pan Fried Lemon Sole with Mikey's Seafood Dill Sauce

I've heard Lemon Sole being hailed as the king of the flatfish, something I tend to agree with. The Lemon Sole has so much natural flavour that I normally just season it with a bit of salt and pepper.

The sauce I made with this is one of my earliest recipes and it is really versatile. You can add and subtract ingredients as you see fit. In this variation it works really well with most sorts of fishes but you can easily freestyle it to go with burgers, sausages or whatever you really like to.

I was quite frugal this time, I used the dill stalks that I'd normally just discard in the water when I boiled the potatoes. I know that it is very common to boil your new potatoes with mint here in the UK but I'm brought up with dill in the water instead.

Mikey's Seafood Dill Sauce
4 tbsp Creme Fraiche (go low fat if you want to)
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 red onion, finely diced
2 - 3 tbsp dill, chopped

Lemon Sole
Lemon Sole fillets, skin on
Olive oil

Mix all the ingredients for the seafood sauce together and season to taste. Put to the side to allow the flavours to mix.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Lightly season the Lemon Sole fillets. Fry skin side down for 2 - 3 minutes. Flip, fry for another minute or so.

Serve with boiled new potatoes.


Monday 25 May 2009

Recipe - Pork Loin Steaks with Sweet Potato and Banana Mash served with a Citrus Reduction

There was two pork loin steaks in the package I bought so I had to think of something to make with the other one as well.

Many a moon ago I had dinner in a Cuban-esque seafood restaurant outside Boston, MA. That night I had griddled swordfish with a sweet potato and banana mash. Sweet potato and banana might not be a taste combination that attract you, give it a chance though. It is really good. I always make my normal potato mash really creamy but when it comes to sweet potato mash I prefer it to be a bit more firm. If you like it different, add some milk or creme fraiche to this base recipe.

As for the pork, this orange and garlic marinade is something I use time after time. It is probably the best pork marinade I've ever tried. If you try this and still think that yours is better - let me have your recipe so I can try it.

Enough of me singing my marinades praise, over to the recipe...

Ingredients (serves 4 or so)
Pork loin steaks
Freshly squeezed orange juice, about 300 - 500 ml
The juice from 1 lime
2 - 3 cloves of garlic, roughly crushed

Sweet potato and banana mash

4 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 medium sized ripe banana, mashed with a spoon
Maple syrup

Pour all of the parts for the marinade into a plastic freezer bag, add the pork steaks - making sure to cover all of them. Marinade for a minimum of three hours.

Once marinated, fish out the pork steaks and put to the side. Pour the liquid through a sieve into a pan, discard the solids. Bring the liquid to a boil and simmer until reduced to almost a syrup. When you think you have reduced it enough, give it some more time on the hob. Put to the side.

Boil the sweet potato for about 8 - 10 minutes or until tender. Mash and stir in the banana. Add a good glug or two of maple syrup and season to taste.

Grill the pork until done. Reheat the citrus reduction whilst grilling.

Plate the mash, pop a steak on top and pour on some citrus reduction on each steak.


Friday 22 May 2009

Recipe - Pork Loin Steaks with Mango & Fennel Salsa and Griddled Polenta

This is only the second time I've ever cooked polenta. Last time I cooked it the 'normal' way according to the instructions on the packaging. This time it was time to freestyle it a bit, adding a bit more of a kick to it and go for a bit more solid structure.

I served it with what is my current favorite salsa. The flavour is great and it is very versatile. I've had it with pork, beef and I could see it work very nicely with fish or seafood. Keeping it simple with some tortilla chips is another option.

Oh yeah, there was some pork involved too.... ;)

Time to hand things over to the recipe.

Ingredients (for about 4 persons)
Mango and Fennel salsa
1 ripe mango, diced
1 small fennel bulb, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 - 2 chilies, deseeded and sliced
Juice from 1 lime
A couple of handfuls of coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped

Polenta for 4 persons according to the packaging
Chicken stock
1 tbsp dried chili flakes
Olive oil

4 Pork loin steaks
Olive oil

Start by mixing together all the ingredients for the salsa in a non-reactive bowl and put to the side to allow the flavours to combine.

Cook the polenta according to the instructions on the packaging, using chicken stock instead of water. Add the chili flakes at the same time as the polenta to the boiling stock, season well. Once cooked, pour the polenta into a square silicone baking mould or a baking tray lined with baking paper (or something along those lines) Put to the side, preferably in the fridge, until it has set and is solid.

Cut the polenta into triangles, or any other shape that takes your fancy, and lightly drizzle the pieces with some olive oil. Fry the pieces on a griddle pan (or use a normal frying pan) for about 1 minute on each side, or until lightly browned. Keep the fried polenta warm until it's time to serve.

Season the pork well and fry until done. Serve it all together.


Thursday 21 May 2009

Recipe - Trout and Couscous Salad

I had one more trout fillet left from the pack I bought the other day. Not wanting to waste it I had to think up something different to do with it. I really liked the simplicity of oven baking it in a foil parcel so that was the starting point.

Since I like couscous quite a lot I thought I'd go down the route of a couscous based salad. I don't have a garden so I can't really grow my own lettuce etc, my cheat option is bags of salad from the super market. I know that I'm bad, but not much I can do about that right now.

Well, here's the recipe for my salad...


Trout (per portion)
1 trout fillet
1 tbsp soy sauce

Couscuos - cooked as per the instructions on the package (add lemon juice as well)
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Mixed salad (I used a bag of beetroot salad from Waitrose)
Raspberry vinegar, to dress with

Pre-heat the oven to 200c.

Lightly grease a sheet of tin foil with butter. Put the fillet on the tin foil, skin down, and season well. Pour on the soy sauce. Make a loose parcel by folding the tin foil over the fish.

Put the parcel in the oven for about 15 - 20 minutes. While the trout is cooking, prepare the couscous.

Plate the salad and tomatoes. Add the couscous and flake the trout on top. Drizzle with raspberry vinegar.


Wednesday 20 May 2009

Recipe - Hamburgers Grilled on the Bun

This is my preferred way of cooking burgers if I can't use a barbecue.

By cooking them this way you end up with lots of nice meat juices in the buns. As always, freestyle the toppings and condiments. However, I would recommend just using salt and pepper in the mince - just to keep it as 'meaty-tasting' as possible.

I've tried many different buns for this but the only type I never used more than once is the so called hamburger buns that you can buy in the shops. They're too thin and taste like cardboard.

Ingredients (makes 2 - 4 burgers depending on how thick patties you make)
500g beef mince
2 - 4 buns, split
Sliced pickled gherkins

Pre-heat the grill in your oven.

Season the mince and mix it gently. Try not to compact it too much.

Put mince on top off the bottom part of each bun, making sure to not make the layer too thin and trying to cover all of the bun.

Put the bun and mince under the grill and cook until done to your liking. Towards the end, put the tops of the buns, cut side up, under the grill too so they get a bit of a crunch.

Assemble burgers with your favorite toppings and condiments.


Tuesday 19 May 2009

Recipe - Jerk Marinated Chicken Breast with Moros Y Cristianos

The name of the rice dish I served the chicken with is Moros Y Cristianos. It means "Moors and Christians" and is a bit of a national dish of Cuba. As you can see it is a mix of black beans and white rice. I'll leave it to you to figure out which part symbolises the Moors and which is for the Christians.

If you compare the photo and the recipe you'll notice that I didn't have any parsley when I cooked this, I simply forgot it when I shopped. You can also add some cooked chopped bacon or lardons to it if you feel like it.

If you don't want to make the marinade you should be able to find some ready made on the supermarket shelf.

As always, freestyle the marinade to suit your tastebuds and heat resistance. I haven't given any exact measures, this is something that you need to trial and error until you get the mix the way you want it. Use the force Luke!

Skinless chicken breasts

Jerk Marinade

Red chillies, diced
Yellow onion, chopped
Spring onions, chopped
Fresh thyme
Fresh grated nutmeg (small amount)
White wine vinegar
Soy sauce

Moros Y Cristianos
Boiled white rice
Prepared and cooked black beans
Chopped fresh parsley

For the marinade, put all the ingredients into a mixer or use a staff mixer to make a smooth paste.

Put the chicken breasts into a plastic freezer bag and coat thoroughly with the marinade. Depending on what strength you want marinade in the fridge from 2 - 12 hours.

When ready to cook, heat up a griddle pan until very hot. Wipe off the marinade and fry the chicken on both sides until done.

Mix the cooked rice and cooked beans with the parsley and season to taste.


Monday 18 May 2009

Recipe - Wild Rabbit Casserole

Poor Bambi, first his mother and now Thumper...

I guess you are not easily offended if you are still reading this post after that opening sentence. ;-)

I've eaten rabbit on quite a few occasions but this was the first time I've tried my hand at cooking it. It was during one of my normal strolls in the supermarket that I noticed something new on the shelf in the meat section. There were new packages containing rabbit.

The choice was between a half rabbit or some diced meat. This time I went for the diced variety, next time I'll go for the other one.

The packaging wasn't all that helpful when it came to cooking ideas. It went something along the lines of: Coat pieces in flour, fry until lightly browned, put in a casserole dish, cover with liquid and vegetables, cook for 70 minutes in a 170c oven.

As I said, not too helpful. But this is what I came up with, I think it tasted very nice. On a sidenote, as you can see I served it on mixed beans. It worked, but I think mash or perhaps just boiled potatoes could work better.

Enough waffling, over to what I did to poor old Thumper...

Ingredients (serves 4)
300g diced rabbit
3 tbsp flour
Olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, roughly cut
1 small leek, halved and sliced
100g mushroom, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced
600 ml stock
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 - 3 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried oregano

Heat the oven to 170c.

Pour the flour into a plastic bag and season well. Toss the rabbit pieces in the flour and put to the side, preserve the flour.

Heat some olive oil in a deep frying pan and fry the rabbit, in batches, until lightly brown. Put the rabbit into a casserole dish as you go.

Once all the rabbit is done add some more olive oil if needed and fry the garlic, onion and bacon until the onion is starting to soften. Add the leek, carrot and mushroom and fry for another 3 minutes or so until stirring in the reserved flour. Keep cooking for another minute, stirring all the time.

Add the stock, brown sugar and vinegar as well as the soy sauce, mustard and dried herbs. Keep stirring as you bring it to the boil. Once boiling, pour it over the rabbit in the casserole dish.

Pop the casserole dish into the oven for about 70 minutes or until the rabbit is nice and tender.

Serve with your choice of sides.


Saturday 16 May 2009

Review - Madsen Restaurant, London, UK

It wasn't long ago that I found out about a new-ish Nordic restaurant in London. Having had a look at their website,, I quite quickly decided that I needed to go there next time I was up in London.

Recently I had some time off and we decided that a visit to London and Madsen Restaurant was a good idea so a table was booked for three of us for lunch.

It is just off South Kensington tube station so getting there was well easy.

The restaurant itself was nice and airy, with a couple of tables outside. The design was what most people would think of when asked to describe a typically Nordic design.

As I said earlier we went for lunch so we could only order from the lunch menu. Having said that, none of us had problems finding something that appealed.

What was ordered was roast pork, large Greenland prawns, a medium herring platter and a breaded pan-fried fillet of plaice.

All of these dishes tasted very good and the presentation could not be faulted. The herring was a real surprise, I had not expected it to be of such a good quality. The person(s) responsible for the different marinades deserves all the credit I can give them.

None of the dishes failed to remind me of what I used to eat 'back home'. It was like being transported home for an hour or so.

The prices were very reasonable, especially for being in London. Don't tell them but I'd be happy to pay more for that quality of food.

I'll definitely be back to try their dinner menu.

Mikey says: If you're from a Nordic country, stuck in the UK, and want a taste of home - book a table as soon as you can. If you're not from a Nordic country but curious as to the Nordic cuisine, book a table - you would have a hard time to find a better introduction than what Madsen Restaurant offers you.

Friday 15 May 2009

Recipe - Cheese Stuffed and Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs

This is one for the kids - or yourself if you're about as childish as I am. ;)

I cooked them in the oven this time but they would go really well on the barbecue. Just pop them on some indirect heat and drop the lid. Cook until done, easy-peasy.

The homemade spicy wedges were a nice and simple compliment to make it a bit more of a meal.

There's not much to say about these ones so let's head over to the recipe portion of this post...

Hot Dogs
Smoked Streaky Bacon
Grated Cheese (strength suitable to your audience)
Mustard (strength suitable to your audience)

Preheat the oven to 250c.

Cut out a triangle all the way lengthways in the hot dogs without cutting through to the bottom. Spread the cut with mustard and then fill it with grated cheese. Wrap each hot dog with one or two slices of bacon.

Put the hot dogs on a baking tray and pop in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until cooked.


Thursday 14 May 2009

Recipe - Oven-baked Trout with Horseradish Mash and Cauliflower Puree

I must admit that I had never tried Cauliflower Puree before cooking it for this meal. The fact that I blog about it can only mean one thing, that I really liked it. It had a very nice flavour and I liked its texture together with the slightly firmer mash. I didn't do much with it visually this time but I'm sure it can be used to decorate the plate if you put your mind to it.

Before you hit the comment button, the tomatoes I roasted were ripe, they are supposed to be that colour. They are a UK grown variety called Sunset Cherry. They can be found in Waitrose (and probably other places). They have a sweet flavour that I really like.

Oven-baking trout like this is a quick and easy way to cook one of my favorite fishes. Not much of effort to pile it in some tin foil and forgetting about for 15 minutes in the oven. As the eagle eyed amongst you will notice, I drizzled the trout and tomatoes with some balsamic vinegar before serving but that's up to you.

Enough chit-chat, over to the recipe...

Horseradish Mash
Horseradish Sauce

Cauliflower Puree (serves 4)
500g cauliflower, roughly chopped
Milk, enough to just cover the cauliflower

Trout (per portion)
1 trout fillet

Cherry tomatoes on the vine (Optional)

Horseradish Mash
Make mash your normal way and stir in horseradish sauce to your taste.

Cauliflower Puree
Put the cauliflower in a pan, pour over the milk and season well. Bring the milk to a boil (don't turn your back while waiting for it to boil) and then turn it down to a simmer. Let it simmer for 10 - 12 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender.

Fish out the cauliflower, preserving the milk, and transfer to a suitable container. Add some butter and use a staff mixer or similar to make a puree. If it is too loose, add some of the preserved milk. If it turns out a bit to runny, put it back in a pan and simmer until reduced.

Oven-baked Trout
Pre-heat the oven to 200c.

Lightly grease a sheet of tin foil with butter. Put the fillet on the tin foil, skin down, and season well. Make a loose parcel by folding the tin foil over the fish.

Put the parcel in the oven for about 15 - 20 minutes. (You can cook the tomatoes in the oven at the same time)


Wednesday 13 May 2009

Review - Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack, Brighton, UK

Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack was made famous by featuring in Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. I watched that episode and the restaurant stuck in my memory.

When it recently was time for my first visit to Brighton I decided that was where we should go for dinner. I guess it's debatable if it is smart to decide on where to eat based on the fact that the restaurant had featured on that show.

Since the show they have apparently done quite well and have moved to a, new, bigger location.

The fact that it was a bigger location was made quite noticeable by the fact that there was only two other diners when we turned up.

We were met by friendly staff and soon had our drinks in front of us.

We had already scouted the menu before turning up so we had made our minds up to try the 10 dish 'Soul in a bowl' menu.

This consisted of 10 different dishes, starters and mains, that gave us a good variety of samples from the different dishes on the menu.

Among the dishes were Soul Food classics like jambalaya, corn bread and gumbo. All dishes came in big enough portions for you to be able to sample them properly and we were definitively not hungry when we left the restaurant.

The quality of the food was a letdown though. The food was not bad in any way, but it didn't really reach any greater heights of excellence either. To be honest, I've had similar tasting food in Old Orleans and TGI Fridays. The one dish that really stood out and almost made the visit worthwhile on its own was the onion rings. They were probably the best onion rings I've ever had but I don't think that I could justify going back just to have them again.

I'm not sure if I had built my expectations up too high but the food failed to excite me.

I must say that the 30 - 40 seconds of 'gangsta rap' (complete with a couple of f-bombs) that was piped out over the loudspeakers was one of the more exciting things of the evening.

The fact that the prices were fairly decent probably keeps this review on the positive side. However, I don't think that I would have been happy to pay too much more for this level of performance.

I have no idea why but the restaurant has two, very different, websites. If you want to have a look at the menus etc you can find the sites here: and

Mikey says: None of the food was actually poor or unedible, it was just nothing that I'd go back for if I had other choices. You could find worse restaurants in Brighton, but you would not have too much of a hard time finding a better one.

Tuesday 12 May 2009

Recipe - Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts stuffed with Mozzarella and Pepper served with Basil and Garlic Mash

I like cooking with chicken breasts, the variations are almost endless. This time I went for a slightly Italian angle to it all.

It wasn't until after I sat down today to get this post together that I realised that what I cobbled together for the mash could easily be made into a pesto, just add some pine nuts. Vary the amount of garlic to your own taste, I can only say that I don't expect to see any vampires for the rest of my life after eating my version.

Ingredients (per person)
Milk (or cream)
Fresh basil leaves, a couple of handfuls
Garlic, roughly chopped - to taste
Olive oil (as good quality as you can get)

1 chicken breast
Roasted red pepper
Mozzarella, sliced
Smoked streaky bacon.
Dried oregano

Pre-heat the oven to 200c. Boil potatoes for the mash.

Slice the chicken lengthways, but not all the way through. Open the chicken breast like a magazine, put some cling film on top and bash it with a mallet until considerably thinner.

Turn the chicken around, put a bit of roasted pepper on one half of it, add mozzarella, seasoning and spices. Fold the chicken together and wrap it with the bacon. Top the bacon with some more seasoning and spices.

Pop it onto a roasting tray in the oven for 20 - 30 minutes, or until cooked.

For the basil and garlic mix just add the basil leaves and garlic to a bowl or similar, add a glug or two of olive oil and blitz with a mixer until a nice and smooth paste is created.

Make mash your own preferred way and stir in the basil mix towards the end of the preparation and let it warm through.

Serve with a side salad.


Monday 11 May 2009

Recipe - Griddled Halloumi with Kicked-up Couscous

I probably shouldn't be referring to pigs during these days of swine flu but I think you might soon see some pigs take off from Heathrow. I'm actually posting a vegetarian recipe. You didn't see that one coming, did you?

I don't have anything, much ;), against vegetarians but I do prefer my food to have some kind of meat in it. However, it's not uncommon that the odd vegetarian sneaks past my quality control and I end up having to cook a non-meat alternative for the odd one out.

This recipe is a variation on last Thursdays one, the Orange Marinated Chicken. I basically just replace the chicken with some nice griddled halloumi cheese. Halloumi is actually really tasty if you griddle or barbecue it. I've made salads with it before and it's really useful to have around if you throw a barbecue and there's a risk of vegetarians turning up.

The couscous recipe is the same as I used in the earlier recipe and the spicyness in it contrasts really well with the halloumi.

I wonder if I'll end up with a vegetarian fan base after this post? Probably not. :)

Over to the recipe...

Ingredients (serves 4)
2 x 250g packs of Halloumi cheese, each cut in 6 - 8 slices
Olive oil

For the kicked-up couscous
4 portions of couscous, prepared and cooked as per the package
5 tbsp salsa
3 tbsp mango chutney
3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped


Start by heating up your griddle pan (alternatively turn on grill in your oven)

Whilst the pan is heating up, prepare the kicked-up couscous. Mix the salsa, mango chutney, orange juice and coriander well in a bowl. Once mixed, fluff up the cooked couscous using a fork and then mix in the salsa mixture.

Cook the lightly oiled halloumi slices for about 2 minutes on each side, or until it starts to brown a bit.

Once it's all cooked, plate the couscous and place the halloumi on top.

Sunday 10 May 2009

Local shopping idea: Just Trading of Wallingford

If you do live close by, or just travel past, Wallingford I hope that you take the time to visit Just Trading of Wallingford.

They have a great selection of fair trade goods, organic wholefoods, environmental products like washing liquids etc. It's also the only place I can think of where I can find my favorite licorice tea.

I can sometimes be a bit hesitant to go for shops like this. Some of them have a bit of that 'holier-than-thou' attitude that really rubs me up the wrong way. Not so in this shop though.

The staff (owners/workers?) are all very friendly and helpful and it's not in every shop you get the occasional offer of a cup of tea or coffee when you are just in there browsing.

You should really make sure to visit early-ish on a Saturday since that's 'fresh bread day'. The quality of the bread is very high and getting home with a still warm loaf of bread is a good feeling. I've been told that the Chelsea buns are of the highest quality as well.

You can find their site with more information here:

Besides, who could say no to a shop opened by Joyce Barnaby?

Oh, yeah - I haven't taken my own picture of their shop so I stole the picture from their site. I hope they don't mind too much... ;)

Mikey says: Visit them if you can, they're well worth all the support they can get.

Friday 8 May 2009

Recipe - Exotic Falun Sausage (Falukorv) bake

You won't find the IKEA food court in any of the Swedish IKEA's but for us ex-pats they are quite a nice feature.

Walking around in the Milton Keynes branch the other day I realised that quite a lot of people don't really know what they're buying, or what to do with it.

I guess that lots of people have bought the strange sausage, (Falun sausage/falukorv) with the flower decorated casing and ended up not having a clue how to cook it.

I've previously posted a couple of recipes for what to cook with Falun sausage/Falukorv but here's another one. I'll soon follow up with some more since I did sort of buy a couple of them during my visit. ;)

Ingredients (serves 4)
500-600g Falun sausage, cut into batons
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 red peppers, diced
2 tbsp butter
2 ripe bananas, sliced
150g grated cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Curry powder
250 ml double cream

Preheat the oven to 200c.

Fry the onion in the butter until it starts to soften. Put the onion in the bottom of a ovensafe dish. Then fry the pepper until that starts to soften too, and add on top of the onion.

Put the sausages on top of the vegetables, follow with the banana slices and finally the cheese.

Season with salt and pepper, add a generous dusting of curry powder and pour the cream on top.

Bake in the middle of the oven for about 30 - 40 minutes or until nicely browned.

Serve with rice and a green salad.


Thursday 7 May 2009

Recipe - Orange Marinated Chicken with Kicked-up Couscous

I do like couscous but it can be quite boring if you just add water and stand back. I quite often add lemon juice and/or some chopped herbs just to spice it up a bit and make it a bit more interesting. This time though I decided to kick it up properly, and it made it much more interesting.

You can use your favorite store bought salsa (I used Hot Bonesuckin' Salsa from - you can get it at Waitrose here in the UK) or make your own. It all depends on how much time you got and how much of an effort you want to make.

The marinade I used is one I use quite often for both chicken and pork. Try it with pork tenderloin, it really works well. The thing I can say, give it proper time to marinade - over night is ideal.

Enough waffling, over to the recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4)
For the orange chicken
4 chicken breasts
2 - 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly squeezed orange juice

For the kicked-up couscous
4 portions of couscous, prepared and cooked as per the package
5 tbsp salsa
3 tbsp mango chutney
3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped

Marinading the chicken
Put all the ingredients for the chicken in a plastic bag, making sure to cover all the chicken breasts, and marinate in the fridge for a minimum of three hour

Preheat the oven to 200c.

Put the chicken breasts in a ovensafe dish and pour the marinade over it. Cook in the oven for 20 - 30 minutes or until cooked.

In the meantime, prepare the kicked-up couscous. Mix the salsa, mango chutney, orange juice and coriander well in a bowl. Once mixed, fluff up the cooked couscous using a fork and then mix in the salsa mixture.

Once the chicken is cooked plate up the couscous and put the chicken on top.


Wednesday 6 May 2009

Tortilla Pizza

Here's another one of my really lazy recipes.

I think that I needed to clear out some veg from my fridge the day I cooked this and took the photos.

I just diced and sliced some veg, fried it for a bit so it was cooked. Then I poured the mixture onto a tortilla. Topped off with some grated cheese and in under the grill until the cheese melted.

Quick. Easy. Tasty. That's all you can ask for some days.


Tuesday 5 May 2009

Lamb Kebab Redux

I had some leftovers when I cooked these lamb kebabs the other day. Well, saying that - I had to force myself not to eat them all the first night just so I could create this post the next day. ;)

As you might understand from the initial post, as well as this one, I really like the flavours in these kebabs. They taste as good, if not even better, reheated the next day.

While the kebabs were being reheated in the oven, I popped open a couple of pitta pockets and spooned in some of the garlic free tsatziki.

Once the kebabs were nice and warm I sliced them and added into the pitta pockets.

This could be the best way to serve these kebabs if you are going for them at a barbecue or picnic.


Monday 4 May 2009

Recipe - Hot Dog and Pepper Fry-off

This yet another one of the dishes that I come back to every now and then. It's quick and tasty, a perfect no-brainer to quickly cook after work.

You can cook this with as much, or little, kick as you want. Me, I go for quite a bit of hot sauce on this one.

(serves about 4)
Olive oil
1 package of Hot Dogs, cut into pieces
1 red pepper, cut into slices
1 green pepper, cut into slices
1 yellow pepper, cut into slices
1 onion, halved and cut into slices
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsps water
Hot sauce (Tabasco or Frank's) to taste

Fry the hot dog pieces in olive oil until they start to brown. Set to the side.

Fry the peppers and onion in the same pan you used earlier for about 5 minutes. Put the sausage pieces back into the pan together with the oregano, salt, water and hot sauce.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan and simmer for about 5 minutes allowing all the flavours to come together.


Friday 1 May 2009

Recipe - Tomato and Chorizo Soup

This is a really nice soup that you could either serve as a filling lunch or use as a starter. I guess you could serve it in really small bowls as part of a 'tapas evening' as well.

As always, freestyle it to suit you and your tastes.

I served this with some fresh crusty bread.

Recipe (serves 4 - 6)
500g uncooked chorizo, chopped into bite sized chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
3 onions, halved and sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 - 2 small red chillies, seeded and finely choppped
1.5 l chicken stock
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
4 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped

Start by frying off the chorizo until it starts to brown lightly. Put to the side.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat and cook the onion and garlic until it starts to soften. Stir in the cumin, paprika, chili, chicken stock, tomatoes and half the parsley.

Bring this to the boil, add the chorizo and reduce to a simmer. Let this simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir in the remaining parsley and serve.