Wednesday 7 April 2010

Recipe - Mince, Carrot, Tomato and Chickpea Soup

Here we go again. Too tired to be adventurous and too stubborn to buy a takeaway. This is the kind of dinner I cobble together when I'm in that frame of mind.

Yet again I used up various bits and pieces that I already had in the cupboards or the fridge to make up something that was edible and filling. As always, freestyle it to your liking. For example - I'm sure the chickpeas can be exchanged for some other kind of pulses, or why not some leftover boiled rice?

If you have some leftover fresh herbs hiding in the fridge, chopping up some parsley and stirring it in just before serving would be a great finishing touch. I added a tbsp of tomato puree and some hot sauce but that is optional if you don't want the extra flavour and kick added by those.

This might not look like the most exciting dinner of the season but it is tasty and fills you up well. Add to that the fact that it is quick to cook and I could not have asked for a better dinner last night.

The final touch, if I had remembered to get some, would have been some nice crusty bread to dip in the soup.

No use to cry over forgotten bread though, here's the recipe...

Ingredients (makes 4 or so servings)
Vegetable oil
400g beef mince
1 onion - peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves - peeled and sliced very thinly
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 carrot - peeled and coarsely grated
1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
400 ml water
Hot sauce (optional)
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 410g tin of chickpeas in water - drained and rinsed

Heat the oil in a large pan on a medium heat. Add the mince, onion, garlic, ground cumin and smoked paprika. Cook whilst stirring now and then until the mince is well browned.

Add the carrot, tomatoes, water tomato puree and hot sauce. Give it all a couple of good stirs and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add the chickpeas and lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Season to taste.

Serve with crusty bread.


Wednesday 31 March 2010

Recipe - Chicken, Bacon and Avacado Quesadillas

Quesadillas are one of my favourite dishes. Not only is it quick and easy to cook, they are also one of the most freestyle-able dishes that I know of.

It is not really rocket surgery to make quesadillas but it is hard to run out of ideas and combinations. You can make sweet as well as savoury ones. Quesadillas for dessert can be ace, if you just got the guts to try it.

I'm using a poached chicken breast in this recipe, for instructions on how to best poach it - have a look here.

You can eat quesadillas with your hands or with knife and fork if you need to behave in front of others. I sometimes make one extra, let it cool, cut it in four pieces, clingfilm each piece and then I got next days lunch for work sorted.

This is just one of my many quesadilla variations, there might be more recipes with different variations coming your way soon, but in the meantime - just freestyle it and make them your way.

I never use oil or butter in my pan when I cook quesadillas. Trust your well seasoned cast iron pan or a good non-stick pan instead.

As always, the measurements here are mere indications. Use your own judgement and make them the way you want them.

Ingredients (makes 4)
8 flour tortillas
Grated cheese (Cheddar, Monterey Jack etc)
1 poached chicken breast, shredded
1 avocado, sliced
8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, grilled and cut into pieces
Hot Sauce, for example Frank's or Cholula (optional)
Smoked paprika (optional)
Fresh coriander (optional)

For each quesadilla do the following:

Top a tortilla with a good layer of grated cheese. On top of that - portion out chicken, avocado and bacon. If you are using any of the optional extras, add those too. Finish off with another layer of cheese.

Put the tortilla into a frying pan on a medium-low to medium heat. Top with another tortilla, press down with a spatula and cover with a lid. Cook for about 3 minutes, flip the tortilla, cover again and let cook for another 3 minutes or so.

Keep the cooked ones warm and repeat until all quesadillas are done.

Serve with sour cream and/or guacamole.


Sunday 28 March 2010

Recipe - Simple Tuna and Tomato Sauce with Pasta

As promised, here's the follow up to the last post - using up the last of the tomato sauce I made.

If you found this post from a search engine or similar, here is the original post. Also, I did choose to add the base recipe to this post too, just in case you did not read the last post first.

You can just use the sauce as it is, a vegetarian option, but you can also pad it out a bit by adding some tuna. Should you have some fresh basil lounging around, chuck that in too.

This is a very simple recipe that you can use as a base and just freestyle it to suit you. Add and subtract ingredients as you feel like - make it yours.

Not much more to say, let's head over to the recipe...

Ingredients (serves 1 - 2)
Olive oil
1/2 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 - 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 red chili, thinly sliced - deseeded if you wish
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Black sliced olives
Worcestershire sauce
Fresh basil leaves, torn (optional)
1 can of tuna chunks in brine, drained and flaked (optional)
Fresh parmesan, grated (optional)
Pasta cooked as per the instructions

Heat some olive oil in a pan on a medium heat. Chuck in the onion, garlic and chili and let that sizzle for a couple of minutes until the onion starts to soften up. Pour in the tomatoes and stir in some olives. Add a splash or two of Worcestershire sauce, some sugar and season to taste. Let this simmer for a couple of minutes. If using, stir in the tuna and the basil leaves and let them heat through.

Serve on pasta and if you're using it, grate some parmesan on top.


Thursday 25 March 2010

Recipe - Cod, Tomato and Potato Mash Pie

This recipe is one I made up just to use some stuff that was in my cupboards, in the freezer and so on.

There is always the odd vegetable around that is threatening to go really bad, there is that Unidentified Frozen Object in the freezer compartment and so on. Some days I just take stock of what I got and try to get something edible out of it. This time, this was the end result.

Leftover mash is great to use in pies so there's half a dish decided already. Finding a cod fillet in the freezer moved the decision towards some kind of fish pie. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and you're almost there. Some rummaging around on my vegetable shelf and in the cupboards and it all came together.

You might notice that I actually use quite a small amount of the tomato sauce in this recipe so you'll be glad, yes you in particular Pete ;), to know that the next post will use the remainder of the sauce for another recipe. No wastage here this time. Also, the cod in question is of the sustainably sourced sort.

Enough chit-chat, let's make some pies...

Ingredients (served 1 Mikey)
1 batch of leftover potato mash
1 skinless cod fillet

Tomato sauce
Olive oil
1/2 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 - 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 red chili, thinly sliced - deseeded if you wish
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Black sliced olives
Worcestershire sauce

Pre-heat the oven to 200c.

Start by making the tomato sauce. Heat some olive oil in a pan on a medium heat. Chuck in the onion, garlic and chili and let that sizzle for a couple of minutes until the onion starts to soften up. Pour in the tomatoes and stir in some olives. Add a splash or two of Worcestershire sauce, some sugar and season to taste. Let this simmer for a couple of minutes. Put to the side.

Put a layer of potato mash on the bottom of a deep-ish ovensafe dish that is big enough to hold the cod fillet in a single layer. Pop the cod fillet on top of the mash. Spoon on some tomato sauce on top of the cod, enough to cover it. Finish it all off by covering it all, pipe it if you are a bit faffy like me, with some more potato mash.

Pop it into the oven for about 20 - 25 minutes or until piping hot and the mash starting to get some colour.


Monday 22 March 2010

Recipe - Potato Soup with Cheese and a kick

This soup is fairly quick to make and I find it quite filling.

It is versatile too. You can either serve big portions of it as a winter filler meal or you can go for a daintier approach and serve it as a starter.

I can't really think of more to say, it is such an easy and straightforward soup to make so I think I'll just head over to the recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4 - 6)
3 tbsp butter
1 small shallot, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic
1 - 2 glugs of white wine (optional)
700g potatoes (I use Maris Piper), peeled and quartered
750 ml chicken stock
750 ml water
375 ml milk
375 ml double cream
Cayenne pepper
Grated Gruyère cheese
Smoked paprika
Olive oil
Spring onion, finely sliced - to garnish

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a pot on a medium heat. Once it starts bubbling add the shallot and let it fry for about a minute. Add in the white wine and the garlic and continue frying for a couple of minutes.

Add the potatoes, chicken stock and water. Bring this to a boil, once boiling reduce to a simmer. Let this simmer for about 15 minutes or until a knife easily pierces the potatoes.

Drain the pot through a sieve into a bowl. Remove all the solids from the sieve apart from the potatoes.

Put the milk, double cream and 375ml of the cooking liquid back into the pot. Put this on a medium heat and using a potato ricer press the potoato into the pot. Give it a couple of gentle stirs once all potatoes are riced. Whisk in the remaining tablespoon of butter. Season well with salt, pepper and cayenne.

Put some grated Gruyère into each soup bowl, pour in soup. Garnish with some olive oil, a dusting of smoked paprika and some spring onion slices.

Serve with bread.


Wednesday 17 March 2010

Recipe - Sandwich with Pork and Crispy and Tangy Slaw

Yet again a recipe which is fairly quick to cook. The only thing that takes a little time is marinading the pork and slaw. If you prepare the marinade the night before you can have this sandwich in a very short time after getting home.

I'm not really sure what to class this as, the usage of the soy sauce, garlic and ginger for the pork does give it a slight oriental taste to me.

If you want to give the slaw a bit more flavour you could add in some finely chopped fresh coriander. I didn't have any coriander at home when I cooked this so I didn't add any. ;)

Well, it's a simple recipe so I shouldn't waffle about it for too long. As I some times do with recipes of this kind, there are no measurements, freestyle it to suit you and your taste.

Bread, for example Pain Rustica
Sriracha sauce (optional)
Olive oil

Crispy slaw
White cabbage, thinly sliced
Carrot, cut into matchstick
Red onion, halved and finely sliced
Fresh coriander, finely chopped (optional)
White Wine Vinegar
Fish Sauce (Nam Pla)
Dried Chilli Flakes (optional)

Marinated pork
Pork Tenderloin
Ground ginger
Garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
Lime juice
Soy sauce

Stir in all the ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and mix well. Cover with cling film and put in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, preferably over night.

Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a plastic bag, add the pork tenderloin and make sure to coat it well with the marinade. Put this in the fridge too, for about the same time as the slaw.

When it comes to cooking it - drain the pork, pat it dry with some kitchen towel, slice it fairly thinly. Fry the slices in a frying pan with the olive oil on a medium heat. Remove from the pan and let it drain on some kitchen towel.

Remove the coleslaw from the fridge and let it drain in a sieve.

Slice the bread in half, drizzle the cut sides with olive oil and quickly brown them under the grill. Once browned, remove from under the grill and spread both halves with mayonnaise. Add the coleslaw on the bottom half, top with the pork and drizzle with some Sriracha if you are in that mood and then close the sandwich up with the top half.


Sunday 14 March 2010

Recipe - Smoky Oven-cooked Pork Ribs

Given the the weather and the current lack of a barbecue of my own this is the only way I can get some barbecued ribs for dinner at home.

I'm cheating quite heavily by using the liquid smoke but the end result clearly justifies the means.

The ribs might not taste quite as good and cooking them might not be quite as satisfying as if I had been able to pop them onto a barbecue, but they're still good. I'll tell you what, give them the full two hours in the oven and you'll get some ribs that taste mighty fine and just about make themselves fall off the bone.

I used to be able to find liquid smoke in the normal supermarkets here but at the moment I'm having to tap the internet to find a fix for my craving. Have a look at your closest friendly hot sauce site for example.

Normally I tend to go quite simple on the sides for this, just some fries and a good homemade slaw does the trick for me.

For the 'sweet dry rub' you can either buy a dry rub and just add some soft brown sugar to it or make your own. I don't have any set rules/proportions for my dry rubs, I just freestyle them at the moment. Some of the most used ingredients are paprika, salt, pepper, garlic granules, dried mustard, ground ginger, cayenne pepper, chili flakes, ground cumin and so on and so on... Once you've mixed a couple of these you know what you like and how to mix it to suit different types of meat and flavours.

What's not in the recipe is the optional addition you can do at the end of the cooking. If you feel like it you can remove the ribs from the foil parcel, get rid of the meat juices, slab on some barbecue sauce. Then finish the ribs off by caramelizing the barbecue sauce for a couple of minutes under the grill.

Ok, enough chatting. Here's how to make some smoky ribs in your oven...

Ingredients (serves 1 - 2)
1 rack of pork loin ribs
4 tbsp sweet dry rub
Liquid smoke

Put the rack of ribs on a piece of tin foil large enough to fold completely around the ribs. Brush a thin layer of liquid smoke on both sides of the ribs. Spread and massage in the sweet dry rub on both sides of the ribs. Close the parcel and make sure to seal it well.

Let the parcel rest in the fridge for at least a couple of hours or even better - over night.

When it's time to start cooking, heat the oven to 160c. Pop the tin parcel onto a baking tray and cook for 1.5 - 2 hours or until the ribs are done to your liking. You can check the doneness at intervals to make sure that they are cooked to perfection.

Remove from the oven, take out of the tin parcel, slice up and serve with the sides of your choosing.


Thursday 11 March 2010

Recipe - Prawn Cakes

I have always been a big fan of various fish and shellfish cakes but this was actually the first time I tried my hand at making prawn cakes.

Normally when I make fish cakes I would use mashed potatoes as a base/binder but for these prawn cakes I used egg and breadcrumbs to make it all bind together.

If anyone thinks that the red on the egg noodles might be ketchup, please think again. It is sriracha chili sauce, there to give some more oomph. If that is a bit too spicy for your taste, why not try some sweet chili sauce with them?

The same goes for the egg noodles, the prawn cakes would go excellent with a nice and crispy salad. I actually think that the sweet chili sauce would be better with the salad option than sriracha would be.

Ok, let's see how I made these little tasty bites.

Ingredients (serves 1 - 2, makes 6 - 8 cakes)
200g peeled and deveined prawns, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1.5 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
The juice and finely grated rind from 1 lime
1/2 tsp fish sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 - 3 good pinches of dried chili flakes (to taste)
4 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil

In a bowl mix the prawns, onion, coriander, lime juice, lime rind, fish sauce and chili flakes. Stir in the egg. Cover and leave to chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Remove and stir in the bread crumbs.

Heat some oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Wet your hands with water and roll balls of the prawn mix about the size of golf balls.

Slightly flatten them and cook them in batches in the frying pan. Let them fry for 2 - 3 minutes on each side, letting them get golden and cooked through.

If your pan is too small to cook them all at the same time, make sure to keep the first batch(es) warm while you fry the rest.

Serve with your choice of side and sauces.


Monday 8 March 2010

Recipe - Pork Schnitzel with Lemon and Parsley butter

Schnitzels have always been a big favourite of mine, I just don't cook them often enough. To remedy that I made myself some schnitzely goodness the other night.

If you got the base recipe you can make schnitzels out of quite a lot of different meats and cuts. I've always, probably incorrectly, seen schnitztels as something from Austria/Germany but I know there are quite a lot of local variations of this around the world. The Americans got their Chicken Fried Steak, there's the Chicken Milanese from Italy and so on.

This recipe is fairly basic but you can freestyle it to your hearts content, why not add some grated parmesan to the breadcrumbs to create a bit more of a adventourous flavour?

Traditionally, at least in my tradition, you get lemon wedges to squeeze over your schnitzels. I decided to do something a little bit different from that - a lemony spice butter. Spice butters is a good way of using up leftover herbs and they can be freestyled like crazy. I'm sure there's a limit as to how long you can keep them in the freezer but mine rarely last very long in the freezer. To follow my own trend I'm not giving any exact measurements for the spice butter, use your own preferences and freestyle it until you like the flavour.

Time to head for the recipe...

Ingredients (serves 4)
Spice butter
Butter, softened
Finely chopped parsley
Lemon juice
Grated lemon rind

4 loin steaks, fat removed
Eggs, beaten

For the spice butter, just stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl and test the proportions/seasoning until you're happy. Either chill in the bowl or put the butter on some cling film and roll into a log that you either chill or put in a freezer.

Mix the salt and pepper with the flour on one plate, put the beaten egg on another and finally the breadcrumbs on a third.

Beat the loin steaks with a mallet (or some other suitable implement) until they are evenly thick, about 3 - 5 mm.

Create the coating by doing the following for each one of the loin steaks: Dredge them in the butter, dip them in the eggs and then finally into the breadcrumbs. Push them into the breadcrumbs quite hard to make sure to get them to stick.

You can now let them sit on a plate in the fridge for a little while to 'firm up' a bit.

Heat the butter in a pan on medium heat and fry the schnitzels for 2 - 3 minutes on each side or until cooked.

Serve with new potatoes, peas and a creamy mushroom sauce.


Wednesday 3 March 2010

Recipe - Sports Pies

Yes I know, this recipe has got a bit of a corny name. The reason for that is that I was asked if I could come up with a recipe for Lurpak during the National Pie Week so I thought I'd come up with a bit different name to stand out.

The name comes from one of the uses I can think of for these pies. Make the filling the day before, start watching the game, prepare the pies in half time and then you can eat them straight after the match is over.

What I aimed for was a pie with a very thick and comforting filling. Cooking it this low and slow really made that happen.

It might seem like a big effort for just some pies, but trust me - take the time and you'll find that it was well worth it. It is big words but I think I got close to the quality of the meat pies I tasted down under.

Have a look here for some more of the recipes from Lurpak: For a direct link to 'my' recipe have a look here:

I must say that I feel a bit proud having my recipe on what looks like an 'official' Lurpak ad, complete with the butter package and all. Well, I better get over to the recipe before I start misting up... ;) 
Ingredients (makes 6 - 8 pies)
150 ml plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
Vegetable oil
1 kg of stewing steak, diced
3 onions, roughly chopped
3 portobello mushrooms, roughly chopped
10 - 12 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
A couple of twigs of thyme, tied together
750ml beef stock
250ml Newcastle Brown Ale
Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp tomato puree
4 - 6 sheets of puff pastry
6 large ramekins or individual pie dishes


Pre-heat the oven to 130c.

Mix the flour, salt, pepper, paprika and ground cumin in a large bowl. Toss in the stewing steak, make sure to cover all pieces with flour, shaking off any excess.

Heat a knob of butter and some vegetable in a large oven safe casserole dish with lid. Fry the steak in batches until they start to brown. Move the fried pieces to a plate while you finish frying off all the steak.

Once all the steak is fried you can return the reserved steaks. Add in the onions, mushrooms, bay leaves, garlic and thyme. Stir in the beef stock, beer, a good splash or three of Worcestershire sauce and the tomato puree.

Give it all a couple of good stirs before putting the lid on it and shoving it into the oven.

Cook in the oven for about 5 - 6 hours or until the liquid becomes thick, almost gravy like. Once this stage is reached, remove the pie mixture from the oven (You can pause here and finish off the pies the next day if you wish. Just chill the pie mixture and continue the day after.)

Increase the oven temperature to 180c.

Grease the ramekins with butter and push in the puff pastry. Fill with pie mixture and fold over the remaining pastry.

Cook in the oven for about 20 - 25 minutes or until the pastry is nice and golden and the filling is hot.


Tuesday 23 February 2010

Recipe - Raspberry and Coconut slice


The baking madness continues...

I'm sure that my colleagues love this sudden foray into baking since they're the ones who get to sample the goods. The thing I would like to know is how you readers feel about it? I'm still so new to it that I cannot do my normal freestyling and make up recipes on my own. The recipes will be coming from various cookbooks, magazines and so on.

Are you readers still interested and willing to read the recipes even if they're not my own and you could find them if you bought the same cookbooks? I will never take the credit for a recipe that's not mine, I'll always give full credit to where I found it - if I still have that information.

Please use the comment field if you feel like it. Let me know what you think, should I post some baking stuff too - even if the recipes can be found elsewhere?

This recipe comes from a cookbook called Traybakes & Slices that are published by The Australian Women's Weekly. They publish a large number of cookbooks and I must say that I really like what they do. Nice pictures, great recipes that are easy to follow and the cookbooks are normally very decently priced.

Ok, on to the recipe...

90g butter, softened
110g caster sugar
1 egg
35g self-raising flour
100g plain flour
1 tbsp custard powder
220g raspberry jam

Coconut topping
160g desiccated coconut
55g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten lightly

Pre-heat the oven to 180c(160c fan). Line a 20cm x 30cm shallow baking tin with parchment paper.

Beat butter, sugar and egg with your mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in sifted flours and custard powder. Spread this mixture in the tin. Cover with jam.

Combine all the ingredients for the coconut topping in another bowl and spread/sprinkle on top of the jam.

Bake for about 40 minutes and let cool in tin before slicing.

Friday 19 February 2010

Recipe - Very Simple Bread

If you have read this blog for some time you have probably noticed that I very rarely, if ever, post anything that is even slightly related to baking. That might change now. Followers on Twitter should have seen some posts about my latest kitchen toy, a KitchenAid bench mixer.

A KitchenAid is a bit of an investment so I have had to find ways of using it to justify the purchase. :)

This was one of my first attempts at baking something using the KitchenAid to help me in the preparation. A very quick and easy bread to make that tasted very good. It might just have been beginners luck. :)

I can tell you that I'm well outside my comfort zone when I'm in the middle of my attempts of baking. Something that I think is a good thing, it's always good to try and push yourself to learn new stuff. As long as no one is there to tell me what I'm doing wrong I should hopefully be able to learn this baking malarkey as I go along at my own pace.

Enough kneading of the words, lets hit the recipe...

Ingredients (makes two loaves)
600g + 300g plain flour
2 x 7g packages of dry yeast
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
500ml hot water (about 50c)

Put 400g of flour, the yeast, salt and sugar in the KitchenAid's bowl and mix together well with a fork. Pour in the water and start mixing on speed 2 with the dough hook for about a minute or so. Whilst you keep it at speed 2, slowly add the remaining flour. The dough should start balling up around the dough hook by now.

Increase the speed to 4 and keep going for at least 3 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Pour some olive oil into a bowl, turn the dough into that bowl. Make sure to turn the dough around so all of it gets oiled. Cover and leave for about 20 minutes or so - or until it has doubled in size.

Split the dough into two and make two round loaves out it. Put them onto a baking sheet with parchment paper on. Brush the loaves with water.

Position the baking sheet in the middle of the oven with a pan of water on the shelf below. Turn the heat onto 210c (190c fan) and bake for about 45 minutes, rotating the pan about half way through. The loafs are done when they are golden brown and sound a bit hollow when you tap their bottoms.

Remove from the baking sheet and allow them to cool down on a cooling rack.


Tuesday 16 February 2010

Recipe - Chicken breast wrapped in Pancetta with Sage

To be honest, I think this is one of the tastiest dishes that I have cooked for a long time.

Normally you run the risk of ending up with a dry chicken breast but not when you cook it this way. The pancetta takes the hit from the heat whilst the chicken breast cooks to perfection and stays moist and nice.

This is definitely a dish I will pull out if I need to cook to impress a bit. As you can see from the picture I served it with gnocchi and green beans the first time I cooked it.

I've cooked it again since the time of that photo and that time I served it with creamy mash and maple syrup glazed baby carrots and a sauce made from deglazing the pan with just water and lemon juice (pour off all the fat first).

I've actually ended up freezing the rolls for a couple of days both times I've cooked this. Just remove it from the freezer the evening before cooking it and let it defrost in the fridge. From that, just follow the recipe.

Give this dish a go, I'm fairly certain that you won't regret it.

Ok, enough singing its praises, it is starting to blush, time to head over to the recipe. I haven't really given any specific measurements, use enough to make each parcel.

Ingredients (per person)
1 skinless chicken breast
Fresh sage leaves
Vegetable oil

Put the pancetta on a cutting board, overlapping slightly lengthwise, until you got a wide enough 'plate' to fit the chicken breast lying horizontally. Space out sage leaves proportionally on the pancetta to taste.

Pop the chicken breast onto the pancetta, season well, and roll the pancetta tightly around the chicken. Now pull out a good lenght of cling film and put the chicken on the short end of it. Start rolling the chicken tightly and then roll it thoroughly until you got a nice and round 'sausage' that is uniformly round. Repeat this for each portion. Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours but preferably over night.

Remove the chicken breasts from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking. On medium heat, heat some oil in a pan that can house all the chicken breasts comfortable. Remove the cling film and put the chicken rolls in the pan, seam down, and lower the heat to medium low.

Cook for about 20 minutes, turning a quarter every 2 minutes or so. When the time is up, remove the pan from the heat and flip the chicken rolls half a turn. Let it sit for 2 - 3 minutes, flip again and let sit for another 2 - 3 minutes.

Remove from the pan, use some kitchen towel to suck up extra fat and slice the chicken into 2 - 3 cm slices. Arrange on a plate and serve with sides of your choice.


Tuesday 9 February 2010

Recipe - Maple Syrup roast Crown of Duck

The other day when I was walking around in the supermarket I noticed that they had a special on Crown of Duck. Not really knowing what that was I thought I'd give it a go.

It turns out that a Crown of Duck is basically a duck someone stolen the legs from. When you cook it you get two breasts and that's about it. Some people might see that as a little bit of a waste of good duck space but for me it worked.

I got a fairly big and filling dinner out of one of the breasts and the other one I converted into wraps for lunch the day after. All I did was to slice up the breast, slap that onto some wraps and then add julienned leek and cucumber. Finish off with some hoisin sauce and wrap it up. Simples.

Adjust the times below to suit you and your bloodlust. The times below worked fine for a duck weighing in just over 900g and kept the meat still juicy without oozing blood.

Over to the, very short, recipe....

1 Crown of Duck
Pepper, freshly ground
Garlic cloves to taste
Maple suryp

Pre-heat the oven to 200c.

Score the skin several times over each breast. Massage in salt and pepper, making sure to penetrate the scores. Chuck a couple of garlic cloves into the cavity.

Pop the bird onto a roasting grill in a roasting tray. Cook in the oven for 50 - 55 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through.

Remove from the oven and pour over 2 - 3 tbsp of maple syrup. Return to the oven for another 10 - 15 minutes. Rotate the tray halfway through again if you feel like it.

Remove from the oven. Allow to rest for 5 - 10 minutes before carving.


Thursday 4 February 2010

Recipe, Smoked Chicken, Prawn and Avacado Salad

A couple of Sundays ago we went to the Beetle & Wedge for a very enjoyable Sunday lunch. It was the first time I went there but I will make sure to come back again. I can only imagine how great the place would be in Summer, being that close to the river and everything.

One of our party went for the 'Avacado Salad, Smoked Chicken & Prawns' salad. I didn't regret my selection of "Beef Casserole, Baby Onions, Bacon & Button Mushrooms" at all but the salad looked so good that I wanted to see if I could recreate it myself.

I couldn't find any smoked chicken at short notice so I used my old method of poaching and had quite a lot of smoked paprika in the poaching liquid. That gave quite a strong smoked flavour which made the recipe work.

If you look at their menu you'll see that this can be ordered either as a starter or as a main. The ingredients below should make about 2 starters or one quite generous main serving.

Ok, let's make some chicken salad...

Ingredients (Enough for 2 starters or 1 main)
1 smoked chicken breast, diced
1/2 avacado, diced
A handful of cooked prawns, chopped
2 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
1 - 2 tbsp finely diced dill + sprigs to garnish
Lime juice
Salad leaves, to garnish (I used gem lettuce)

Mix the chicken, avacado, prawns, spring onions and dill in a bowl. Squirt over some lime juice to keep the avacado from going brown. Stir in enough mayonnaise to coat it all, but don't make it too wet. Season to taste.

Decorate the plate with the salad leaves and put the salad mixture onto the plate (I was a bit faffy and used a cooking ring).


Monday 1 February 2010

Recipe - Low and Slow Game Casserole

I'm quite happy to see more and more interesting and unusual cuts of meat in my local Waitrose. It seems that they are adding more game to their shelves as well, something I think is really good.

The other day they had a bit of a discount on Game Casserole packs. These packs contained diced pheasant, pigeon parttridge and mallard. The label stated that I could find cooking instructions on the other side. I guess that is true, they were just not very helpful.

All they basically said was to brown the meat, add some vegetables and stock and then cook it in the oven. The only measurements etc that was given was the temperature for the oven and the time needed to cook.

Needless to say, I wasn't too happy or impressed with those instructions. What I did was to look through some of my recipe books and then I also used some Google-Fu.

Then I took the various recipes I could find that I liked and mixed and matched things to get something to work with. This is what I came up with, you could use it as a good start for your own stew - just freestyle it to suit you and your taste.

Ingredients (serves 4)
2 x 340g Game Casserole packs
4 slices of streaky bacon, cut into pieces
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
12 - 14 shallots, peeled and halved
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
20g dried porcini mushrooms, re-hydrated as per the instructions 
250 ml red wine
300 ml chicken stock

3 - 4 tbsp chopped curly leaf parsley.

Pre-heat the oven to 160c.

Melt the butter on a medium heat in a oven safe casserole with a lid. Season the game well. Fry the game in batches until well browned on all sides. As it gets done, remove to a plate.

Once all the game has been fried and removed, add in the bacon, shallots and carrots and fry whilst stirring for about 5 minutes. Add in the thyme, porcini mushrooms, wine and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and then remove from the heat.

Put the lid on the casserole and pop it into the oven. Cook in the oven for about 90 minutes or until cooked and well tender.

Once cooked, remove from the oven and stir in the parsley.

Serve with rice, mashed potato or as I did - with polenta fries.


Friday 29 January 2010

Recipe - Chicken breasts with onions, carrots and jalapenos

Regular readers of this blog have probably already figured out that I cook an awful lot of chicken breasts. I really like their versatility and how easy they are to cook. There are almost no end to the different dishes you can get out of them.

I'm afraid that I far too often that the easy route and use skin and boneless chicken breasts when I cook. This recipe however uses part boned chicken breasts with the skin still on. I must be honest and admit they normally taste more and keep juicier than their stripped cousins.

One of the things to think of when cooking this dish is to use a pan that is big enough to fit the chicken breasts and at the same time deep enough so that the lid can go on. I use my 280mm cast iron casserole pot for this. It is about 75mm deep so the lid goes on nicely.

There is something that feels right about cooking this with a cast iron pot but you can of course use a normal frying pan with a lid as long as it is big enough.

Ok, enough talk about chicken breasts and cast iron casseroles - let's head over to the recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4)
4 chicken breasts, skin on and bone in
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
Vegetable oil
2 onions, cut into slices
2 carrots, peeled and cut into slices
4 tbsp pickled sliced jalapenos (more or less to taste)
8 garlic cloves (more or less to taste), halved if you feel like it
60 ml cider vinegar
60 ml white wine
250 ml chicken stock

Combine the spices into a dryrub. Rub half of the dryrub into the chicken breasts.

Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Once heated, add in the chicken breasts skin side down and cook until nicely browned on both sides. This should take about 3 - 5 minutes per side. Once browned remove the chickens from the pan.

Add the onion and carrots and cook whilst stirring until the onion is browned, somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, let it cook for about a minute - still stirring. Add the rest of the dryrub, the vinegar, jalapenos, wine and stock.

Put the chicken back in, skin side up, and make sure to push it down well in the onions. Bring the mixture to a very gentle simmer. Lid on and keep simmering very, very, gently for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked.

Serve with rice and perhaps some hot sauce on the side.


Tuesday 26 January 2010

Recipe - Cold Potato and Bockwurst Salad

New potatoes has always been one of my big favourites, especially if they are boiled the Swedish way with lots of dill. Once cooked I normally manage to eat a couple before they even make it to a plate. If there are some left over I quite often nibble them one by one until they're gone. Cold new potatoes rock! :)

If, against all odds, enough of them should survive until the next meal I quite often use the them to make a cold potato salad. Normally that means freestyling it in a proper way. I take what I got at home and try to mix and match to make some interesting combinations. There isn't really much you can do to ruin a potato salad and the combinations are almost endless. As you'll notice in the recipe below, there are no rules - just mix it together as you feel is right.

This time I used crème fraîche but you can just as well use mayonnaise, it's just a matter of what you got at home and what your taste tells you to do. As for the bockwurst, you should be able to find that in most supermarkets these days but replace it with hot dogs or something similar if you feel like it.

Having talked this much about new potatoes I'm feeling the craving rise so I better get this recipe sorted any myself down to the shops for some potatoes ;)

Boiled new potatoes, sliced fairly thinly
Bockwurst, sliced fairly thinly
Spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
Red onion, finely diced
Crème fraîche
German sharp mustard

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add in enough crème fraîche to coat it all then stir in enough mustard to give it a bit of a kick. Season to taste.


Saturday 23 January 2010

Recipe - Fragrant Salmon served with a crispy salad and mini naans

I call this fragrant salmon since the spices, especially the coriander seeds, makes the entire kitchen smell so good while you're cooking.

Salmon is one of my all time favourites. Not only is it very tasty, it is also very versatile and fairly quick to cook. It can be made into a very quick and easy dish or you can spend some time and make something very fancy.

This time I just made a quick crunchy salad and had some mini naans with it but you could as well serve this with some wild rice, couscous or whatever takes your fancy.

This is a quick recipe so I shall keep my ramblings short too...

Ingredients (serves 4)
2 tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
1 red onion, diced
1/2 cucumber, de-seeded and diced
Fresh coriander, chopped
1 red chili, de-seeded (if you're wimpy :) ) and sliced

4 salmon fillets, skin on
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp freshly ground coriander seeds
2 tsp whole cumin seeds

Mini naans, to serve

Combine all the ingredients for the salad and let the flavours mingle while you prepare the rest.

Pre-heat the oven to 190c.

Once the oven is heated drizzle the salmon fillets with the lime juice, rub with the spices and season.

Put some oiled tinfoil on a baking tray and put the salmon fillets on that. Cook in the oven for 8 - 10 minutes.

Serve with the salad and mini naans.


Wednesday 20 January 2010

Recipe - Frikadelle

I'm definitely no expert on German food but to me the frikadellen is the German equivalent of hamburgers. Kind of like what us Swedes have in pannbiff and the Danes in their hakkebøfs.

The thing that, to me, differs frikadellen from other hamburger versions are the crispy coating of breadcrumbs. That really sets them off compared to the others.

After some reading I think I can quite safely state that one of the 'secrets' behind good frikadellen is the mix of minced meat. Try to aim for 2/3 beef mince and 1/3 pork mince. 1/2 and 1/2 works too, but is less optimal. ;-)

I'm not sure if it is the right way but I use frikadellen both warm and cold. Cold frikadellen makes the start of awesome sandwiches. Add some pickled gherkin slices and strong mustard and you are well on your way to sandwich heaven.

Enough singing the praise of frikadellen, lets head over to the recipe...

Ingredients (makes enough for about 4)
500g minced meat (see proportions above)
3 slices of thick toasted bread
1 egg, beaten
1 onion, finely diced
A handfuls of curly leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp dried marjoram
Bread crumbs
Vegetable oil

Soak the bread in some milk for a couple of minutes. Squeeze out the excess milk.

Put the meat in a bowl and mix in the bread, egg, onion, parsley, mustard and marjoram. Season well. Mix all of this together with your hands.

With wet hands, mould the mix into palm sized frikadellen that is about 2.5cm thick. Coat all sides of the frikadellen in breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat. Fry the frikadellen until cooked through and golden brown, normally about 6 - 8 minutes on each side.

As you go along keep the fried frikadellen warm while you finish them all off in the pan.


Sunday 17 January 2010

Recipe - Lamb Pies

These small lamb pies are perfect winter food. Fairly quick and easy to make as well as tasty and filling. There's not much more you can ask for.

As always, freestyle this to suit you and your taste. Add and subtract ingredients to match what you got at home.

I think that this dish has a bit of a North African twist to it with the harissa and apricots.

I'm sure that you can make much neater and nicer looking puff pastry lids if you just take some more time and put in a bit more effort than what I did. They tasted ok at least. ;)

Ingredients (makes 2 pies)
300g diced lamb leg
Harissa paste
Olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp oregano
70g dried apricots, chopped
1 ready rolled puff pastry sheet, halved
1 egg, beaten

Marinade the lamb in the harissa paste over night.

Preheat the oven to 200c.

Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the lamb until browned on all sides. Remove from the pan and put to the side.

Cook the onion and carrot in the pan until they start to soften. Return the lamb to the pan and stir in the tomatoes, oregano and apricots. Stir well and bring to a simmer.

Divide the mixture between two 400ml ramekins (or similar). Cover the ramekins with the puff pastry and cut a cross in the middle with a sharp knife. Brush the puff pastry with the beaten egg.

Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the lid is nice and golden.


Thursday 14 January 2010

Recipe - Chargrilled Chicken and Sriracha Bacon Salad

At one stage or another I'm sure that most of us have tried to combine foods that are awesome in their right environment but doesn't go together at all. Ice cream and gravy anyone?

This time though I think I hit gold. Two of my favorites, bacon and Sriracha sauce, combined and working beautifully together. This recipe is for a salad but I can think of quite a few dishes to use it in. Bacon sandwiches with a serious kick being one of them.

Come on give it a go, marinate some bacon with Sriracha and cook it in the oven until crispy. Good enough to eat on its own.

Just adjust the ingredients in this recipe to fit the amount of people you're serving. Allow at least 1/2 - 1 chicken breast per portion.

Just to make sure - no, I have not tried to combine ice cream and gravy. It was just a very bad example.

Chicken breast
Smoked streaky bacon
Sriracha Sauce
Mixed salad leaves
Red onion, thinly sliced
Green pepper, cut into strips
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Parmesan, shaved

Pre-heat the oven to 220c.

Put the bacon strips in a freezer bag and coat liberally with Sriracha sauce. Make sure to mix well to cover all of the bacon. Let this marinade for at least 30 minutes.

In the meantime heat a ridged frying pan until smoking hot. Cook the chicken breasts until done and they have a nice marking from the pan. Remove the breasts from heat and let them cool down. Once the chicken has cooled down, slice it into strips.

Line a grill pan with tinfoil and put the bacon on the grill. Cook in the oven until the bacon is crispy, turning half way through. Allow the bacon to cool down and then cut it into pieces.

Assemble all the ingredients for the salad in a bowl or on individual plates.


Monday 11 January 2010

Recipe - Winter Warmer Stew

No one living in the UK can have missed that we've been having some unusual weather. For those of you not living in the UK - it has been f**cking freezing (for the UK), with lots of snow.

Cold weather calls for comforting food and I think this recipe definitively comes in under that heading. It is fairly low on the amount of ingredients as well as the work you need to put in. However, it does take some time to cook so set out in good time.

The biggest problem I found with it was that it filled my flat with such nice smells that I wanted to eat it well before it was finished cooking. I resisted temptation, this time, and was rewarded with a very tasty stew and really tender meat.

As always, freestyle it. Add and subtract spices and vegetables to mix what you got at home.

Ingredients (serves 4)
1tbsp oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili flakes
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped/minced
2 green peppers, diced
1 onion, diced
500g diced braising steak
500ml passata
250ml water

Heat the oil, cumin, chili flakes, and smoked paprika in a cast iron casserole pan or similar on a medium heat. Stir well and let this cook for about a minute.

Stir in the pepper and onion. Keep cooking and stirring until the pepper and onion starts to soften. Add in the meat and let it cook until the meat is browned on all sides.

Mix in the passata and water, season to taste. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid. Let this simmer for about 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.

Serve with rice and some white bread to mop up the sauces with.


Friday 8 January 2010

Recipe - Macaroni box / Makaronilåda

The English title of this recipe is a direct translation of the Swedish one. Another title could have been pasta bake but I kind of like the original title.

I consider this dish to be a complete and utter winter classic. With the current state of the weather here in England I started to think about what we used to be fed when I was a kid and we came in for dinner after a day out in the snow. This was one of the first dishes that popped up in my mind.

This is a great dish to have in your repertoire. It is quick and easy to make and you can freestyle it quite a bit. If you don't have lardons at home, use some smoked ham or bacon instead for example. If you got some lettuce or ingredients for a salad at home, serve that on the side. You could even make some garlic bread to pad out the meal a bit.

One thing, and I know some of you might object to this, that I must have with this dish is tomato ketchup. It just doesn't feel right without a good dollop of Heinz with it.

Ok, enough reminiscing about my childhood meals - let's head over to the recipe instead.


Linda, from with knife and fork, let me know about a competition for the Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese over at The Cheeselover blog. She said in the comment that she thought I should enter this recipe. Who am I to question her judgement? ;) So consider this entered into the contest.


Ingredients (serves 2 - 4)
200g macaroni, uncooked
1 onion, diced (red or yellow)
200g lardons
Olive oil
Grated cheese

Egg-milk mix
3 eggs
250ml milk

Pre-heat the oven to 200c.

Cook the macaroni as per the instructions on the package. Once cooked, drain and keep on the side.

In the meantime heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Sweat the onions for a couple of minutes before adding the lardons. Let this fry until the lardons are cooked and starting to crisp up. Mix in the macaroni and turn off the heat.

Pour the macaroni and lardon mix into a oven safe casserole dish of a suitable size.

Whisk together the milk and egg and season well. Pour this over the macaroni mix and finish off with a good layer of grated cheese.

Cook in the oven for 20 - 30 minutes or until the egg-milk mix has set and the cheese turns golden. You can always turn on the grill towards the end of the cooking to brown the cheese some extra.


Tuesday 5 January 2010

Recipe - Wild Boar Steaks with Potato, Parsnip and Chorizo Hash

This is my first post of the year so I thought I'd go a bit wild. Wild boar to be exact.

When you cook boar you can treat it as you would with pork. Wild boar is basically a pig that has been teased until it has flipped and gone wild. ;) The texture etc is very similar to pork, the main difference is that the flavour is a bit stronger.

I was originally going to serve it with a potato gratin but then I had another idea. I performed a quick inventory and realised that I had all the needed ingredients for what I was thinking of and my new side dish was close to being cooked for the first time. I must say that I really liked the flavour combinations I got together in this one.

I'm not giving any exact measurements for the hash, use the proportions and make as much as you think you'll need. To be honest, I could eat it as a main dish with maybe an fried egg or two to accompany it.

I guess I should wish you all a Happy New Year and move on to the recipe now...

Wild Boar Steaks
Olive oil

2 parts potatoes, diced into about 5 - 10mm dice
1 part parsnip, diced into about 5 - 10mm dice
1 part onion, diced
1 part chorizo, diced into about 5 - 10mm dice
A good amount of curly leaf parsley, minced
Olive oil

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Plunge in the potatoes and parsnips and let them par-boil for 2 - 3 minutes. Drain them and then quickly empty the sieve into a pan of ice (or really cold) water to stop the cooking process. Once they've cooled down properly, drain them again.

Heat some oil in a frying pan on a medium heat, pop in the chorizo and onion and let them sweat for a couple of minutes. Once the chorizo has released a fair amount of its oil add in the potatoes and parsnip. Let this fry until it all starts to crispen up, stirring now and then. Season to taste and stir in the parsley just before serving.

While the hash is cooking, heat some more oil in another frying pan. Season and cook the steaks to your liking. Let them rest for 5, or more, minutes before serving together with the hash.