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10 of my favourite online recipes

I have recipes everywhere. In cookbooks, scribbled on pieces of paper, cut out from magazines and bookmarked online and then there’s the ones that just exist in my head. I subscribe to a ton of food blogs through Google Reader which I look over while I down my morning coffee. My favourite food blogs currently have to be:

Joy The Baker – the mother of all baking food blogs
The Pioneer Woman Cooks – delicious cowgirl food
The Pink Whisk – previous runner-up of Great British Bake Off, step my step recipes and techniques
Food Stories – makes food you really want to eat. Also has a separate sandwich rating blog
Domestic Diva M.D – super entertaining with recipes too
A Cozy Kitchen – awesome food photography and recipes

I’ve just been dribbling over the home pages of these whilst retrieving the links for you. Anyway, I find that subscribing to blogs is a great way of coming across yummy new recipes which you won’t find on websites like BBC food although they are great go to’s for recipes as well. Thanks to satellite television, I can also watch recipes being made at almost any hour of the day. And with the invention of Pinterest I can also be constantly looking at pictures of food. Frankly, it’s enough to make you fat.

Another great online tool is Delicious which is where I keep all my bookmarked recipes. You can tag links as you like and since they’re all stored on the web, you can access your bookmarks anywhere from any device. I have almost 500 recipe links saved and unlike a chef’s cookbook, all of the recipes are things I know I’ve seen and liked. Here are 10 of my favourite recipes which are available online and that I’ve previously bookmarked, cooked, eaten and LOVED then cooked, eaten and LOVED again!

1. Nigella’s Mexican Lasagne

A recent addition that’s already been made and enjoyed a few times! Absolutely scrumptious and innovative recipe which uses flour tortillas to create a Mexican lasagne. I adapt the recipe my adding beef mince before the canned tomatoes but the unadulterated recipe is great for vegetarians.

2. Joy The Baker’s Polenta

I’d never ever heard of adding milk to polenta until I’d seen this and now I always make it this way. Plus I love using American cup measures – so much easier.

3. Heston’s Ultimate Mashed Potato

There aren’t many Heston Blumenthal recipes you can make on a regular basis but here is one! I think I’ve mentioned this recipe at least twice on my blog already but it… is… goooooood! I don’t have a thermometer or a potato ricer (family take note, Christmas is coming :-)) but I can still make this easily. The amount of butter required is a little alarming, but one taste and you know it’s worth it.

4. Ottolenghi’s Vegetable Paella

Another vegetarian recipe which I’ve made meaty by adding fried chorizo in at the end! Great served with some olive bread and a platter of Manchego and Serrano ham.

5. BBC Good Food Chicken Cacciatore

A really quick and inexpensive midweek recipe of chicken in a tomato and mascarpone sauce. The simple sauce is tasty over pasta too.

6. Delia’s Dhal Curry

Super cheap, healthy and vegetarian (I haven’t added meat to this one!) recipe for a dhal curry. Mr B. even liked it despite the lack of meat which means it must be a good recipe. You can add a Nann bread on the side if you want to.

7. Antony Worrall-Thomspon Goat’s Cheese and Roasted Vegetable Terrine 

Unlike Antony I don’t thieve the cheese from my local Tesco to make this! A really nice make-ahead recipe which works well as a dinner-party starter. Looks pretty impressive when served as well.

8. Nigella’s Mustard Pork Chops 

Really easy and cheap midweek meal. I use honey mustard instead of wholegrain as I found that a bit too strong in taste. Goes really well with the gnocchi that Nigella recommends as well as some buttery spinach… which I recommend!

9. Joy The Baker’s Pull Apart Cinnamon Bread

I mean, just look at it! You’re in trouble of eating your laptop screen aren’t you? I’ve made it. It was amazing. When I went to bookmark it on a social media site, I saw that 2 million others had done so before me!

10. Lorraine Pascale’s Honeycomb

Simples. Tasty. Versatile. The recipe works every time.

Happy bookmarking and cooking.

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Pumpkin Soup topped with Bacon, Crème Fraîche and Toasted Seeds

Every Halloween I have to make something with pumpkin. I imagine I’m not the only one. It would be an absolute crime to buy a pumpkin for carving purposes and to throw away the insides! Well, not actually crime (as far as I know) but it would be very, very wasteful!

Last year I used mini pumpkins – munchkins – and stuffed risotto into them. This year I made pumpkin soup. Perfect for Halloween and also for any evening when you’re just too tired to chew! The pumpkin can be substituted with butternut squash if you’re not making this in October.

Utterly warming, soothing and delicious… it went down very well – and quickly!

Pumpkin Soup topped with Bacon, Crème Fraîche and Toasted Seeds
Serves 4

Ingredients
– 1kg pumpkin flesh (that’s about 1 medium or 2 smaller pumpkins)
– 7 tbsps olive oil
– 1 cinnamon stick
– ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
– 25g salted butter
– 1 large onion
– 500ml hot vegetable stock
– 6 tbsp crème fraîche plus extra for serving
– 160g smoked bacon lardons

Method
1. Preheat oven to 200°/Gas Mark 6/400° Fahrenheit. If you want to serve the soup inside a hollowed out pumpkin then cut the top off of it, scoop out the seeds and fibres from the middle and set aside the seeds for later. Using a knife and a spoon, scoop out the pumpkin flesh leaving around 1cm of flesh around the sides of the pumpkin.

2. Place the pumpkin onto a foiled baking tray and cover with 4 tbsps of olive oil. In a pestle and mortar, crush up the cinnamon stick as much as you can and scatter it across the pumpkin. Finally using a micro-grater grate the nutmeg onto the pumpkin as well. Season the pumpkin with salt and pepper and using your hands smoosh together all of the spices, seasoning and oil with the pumpkin. Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes until tender and slightly browned.

3. When the pumpkin has been cooked take it out of the oven (leave the oven on though) and set aside, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Dice an onion and add to the saucepan. Fry for 10 minutes in the butter until soft. Add the pumpkin and then the stock and simmer everything together for 20 minutes.

4. Now it’s time to blend the soup! You can use a food processor or a hand blender. I used a hand blender with a small processing bowl and blitzed it in batches to get a smooth finish. Once processed, transfer to a smaller saucepan to warm through again. Add the crème fraîche and stir through, season to taste.

5. In a frying pan, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and fry the lardons until crispy. Scatter the pumpkin seeds onto a foiled baking tray, cover with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and place in the oven for 7-10 minutes.

6. Serve the soup in individual bowls or inside the pumpkin you hollowed out earlier. Finish with a swirl of crème fraîche and a generous topping of seeds and bacon. I served my soup with some tiger bread as well, because as bread goes, with its crackled crust, this looks the spookiest for a Halloween soup! Then it’s just a matter of dipping, dunking and devouring!

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Butternut Squash and Ricotta stuffed Cannelloni topped with Chestnuts

Leaves on the ground. Check. Temptation to put the heating on. Check. Getting darker earlier. Check. Urgent need for comfort food. Check. Yep, it’s autumn.

As the nights draw in, I love filling my cupboards with pasta, chocolate and cans of soup whilst also making sure there’s plenty of red wine in the rack too. Oreo cookies washed down with Malbec is a great supper when it’s too cold to venture out for supplies! :-)

Seriously though, here’s a scrummy autumnal recipe that will hopefully make you feel all warm inside… and full as well!

Butternut Squash and Ricotta stuffed Cannelloni topped with Chestnuts 
Serves 2

Ingredients
– 1 butternut squash
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 tablespoon of thyme leaves picked
– 100g Ricotta cheese
– 2 large handfuls of finely grated Parmesan
– ¼ whole nutmeg, finely grated
– Cannelloni (8-10 tubes)
– 150ml white wine
– 150ml double cream
– 1 clove of garlic, crushed
– Packet of vac-packed Chestnuts

Method
1. Preheat oven to 200°/Gas Mark 6/400°F. Peel and dice the butternut squash. Put into a bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of picked thyme leaves. Season and mix well before turning out onto an oven tray. Roast for 35 minutes or until tender and golden. Remove from the oven and mash up with a potato masher.  Leave your oven on for baking the pasta later.

2. Mix together 100g of ricotta, 1 large handful of grated Parmesan and ¼ whole nutmeg grated in a bowl. Add the mashed butternut squash, mix everything really well and season to taste.

3. Now get the cannelloni and stuff it with the butternut squash mixture. I used a piping bag without a nozzle to do mine. If you haven’t got a piping bag you can do the old Jamie Oliver trick of using a large sandwich bag with one of the corners snipped off. Any leftover mix can be spread along the sides of your ovenproof dish.

4. To make a creamy sauce to top the pasta, mix the double cream, white wine and garlic together on a low heat. Heat until it has reduced by about half. Season and pour over the filled pasta. Finally scatter over the other handful of Parmesan along with a large handful of roughly chopped vac-packed chestnuts. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pasta is cooked. Serve with some buttered spinach to compliment the sweetness of the pasta dish. Eat before finding yourself a duvet and hitting the sofa.

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Pasta alla Norma

I’ve probably mentioned more than once that I have a fiendish love of aubergines. I like them best when they are olive oil sodden but smoked aubergines in a baba ganoush dip are equally as good.

Sicily is one of the best aubergine destinations on the planet. After spending 2 weeks there in 2007 and doing lots of sightseeing, the most memorable parts of my trip were mounds of caponata as well as this Sicilian aubergine dish – Pasta alla Norma. It’s quick to make and easy to please and here’s the recipe.

Pasta alla Norma
Serves 2

Ingredients
– 3 tbsp olive oil
– 1 onion, finely chopped
– 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
– 2 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and chopped
– 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
– Small pinch of chilli flakes
– 1 aubergine
– Dried pasta (tube shaped pasta is good, I used De Cecco’s Tortiglioni). I used about 250g for 2 people but I am known to good too much pasta!
– Small handful of basil, chopped plus a few extra leaves for serving
– 2 tablespoons of ricotta
– 50g Parmesan, grated

Method
1. Fry the onion in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on a medium-high heat. When soft, add the 2 cloves of crushed garlic followed by the anchovies and tin of tomatoes. Season well with salt, pepper and a small pinch of chilli flakes. Cook the sauce for at least 30 minutes on a low heat, or for up to an hour if you have the time. If at any time the sauce runs dry, don’t worry, just add a little water to the mix.

2. Halve the aubergine lengthways and then cut into vertical strips. Then slice the strips into 4 or 5 pieces width ways so you end up with little rectangles of aubergine. Fry in a pan on a medium-high heat containing the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Fry until golden and if the pan gets dry, drizzle over a little more oil. Drain and set aside.

3. Cook the pasta according to the pack instructions in salty water until al dente. Drain and add to the tomato sauce. Add the aubergine and the basil and stir well. Turn off the heat but leave the pan on the hob and allow everything to cook together for a few minutes.

4. Traditionally Pasta alla Norma is topped with ricotta salata which is ricotta that has been salted and dried. It is harder in texture to standard ricotta and can therefore be grated. However, you’ll be hard-pushed to find some without visiting a specialist shop. Instead, I spoon the pasta into bowls and add dots of standard ricotta around the dish. Top with grated Parmesan and decorate with a few basil leaves. Eat immediately!

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The Luther Burger

Luther Burger

Never too much, never too much, never too much.

Well, in all honesty, 1 of these kind of was for me! And I blame my good friend Rich. You see Rich is doing something new every day in 2012 for charity and then blogging the results. Some of my favourites over the past 6 ½ months have got to be:

– Chased a duck
– Got chased my geese
– Crossed a ford (and lost his socks)
– Took a bath in a suit
– Ran around his garden, naked, in a snow storm (his wife told me he then caught man flu)

He’s also tried and cooked many new foods and dishes, a couple of which I’ve helped with:

– Made a Herman the German Friendship Cake
– Tried a stinging nettle curry
– Took on the cinnamon challenge (and failed!)
– Made a Celebrations toastie
– Cooked American pancakes with bacon and maple syrup
– Ate a curry cooked in a pineapple

You can read more about his exploits on his blog and make a donation here. You can also suggest something new and crazy for him to do!

A colleague of Rich’s suggested The Luther Burger as something new. The Luther Burger originates from Georgia, USA. It’s so called after Luther Vandross. The interweb doesn’t really confirm why, but it’s thought that he had one. Coming in at a massive 800-1,500 calories a Luther Burger is your standard burger, served in a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Oh Yes. Traditionally, the doughnut is opened and grilled on the inside, then eaten with the glazed side touching the meat, but we preferred ours the other way around.

When Rich suggested this to me, I was up for it. In my mind, it worked. After all, bacon and maple syrup work wonderfully together. Same goes for caramelised onions and barbequed meat. And the Luther Burger does work! It’s very tasty. But I just couldn’t eat a whole one again!

The Luther Burger 
Serves 1 (or 2 if sharing – recommended!)

Ingredients
-1 good quality beef burger
– A slice of burger cheese
– 1 rasher of smoky bacon
– 1 original glazed Krispy Kreme

Method
1. Simply barbeque your burger and stack the cheese and bacon on top.

2. Open the Krispy Kreme and lightly toast the inside on the barbeque.

3. Serve the burger inside the doughnut with the glazed side on top or on the meat, as you prefer. Find someone to share it with you!

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Frittata

It’s finally summer in London but as usual it’s too hot. Muggy is an understatement! We can never win, if it’s not muggy it’s raining and often when it is muggy, it does rain and then London becomes one big steam room. Meh.

Anyway, this does actually bring me nicely onto frittata – an Italian omelette that manages to be filling but not heavy and so perfect for eating in the heat with a crispy dressed salad.

The possibilities for frittata fillings are endless and they’re a great go-to when you have vegetables that need to be used up.

Red pepper, Tomato, Spinach and Goats Cheese Frittata 
Serves 2 as a main meal or up to 6 for a lunch/picnic/snack

Ingredients
– 2 tbsps olive oil
– 2 red peppers thinly sliced
– 10-12 cooked new potatoes
– Handful of cherry tomatoes
– 6 eggs
– Handful of spinach
– 8 basil leaves
– 150g tub of mild soft goats cheese
– Salt and freshly ground black pepper
– Rocket dressed in extra virgin olive oil to serve

Method
1. Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan (I had to resort to my wok as my frying pan is very shallow!). Add the sliced red pepper and fry on a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it starts to colour nicely.

2. While the peppers are cooking, slice the new potatoes and halve the cherry tomatoes. When the pepper has coloured, add the potatoes and cherry tomatoes to the pan.

3. Crack the 6 eggs into a bowl and whisk really well. Season well before chopping the spinach finely and adding to the eggs. Give it a final good whisk and then add the egg mixture to the pan.

4. Flex the pan around to distribute the egg and spinach evenly. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 10 minutes. Put your grill on.

5. While the frittata is cooking on the hob, scatter your basil leaves onto the top, spoon out goats cheese and dollop that on top as well. Give it another season.

6. After 10 minutes, transfer your pan to the grill in order for the frittata to cook on top. Leave under the grill for 10 minutes. Take out and skewer through the center to check that it’s not overly gooey in the middle. Slice and serve!

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Coronation Chicken

My Mum rang me back in April to tell me that the Queen was going to travel down the Thames on a ‘giant tortilla’ for the Jubilee. What an image. Mum often gets words wrong for example fajitas are always referred to as fage-jitas no matter how much you correct her. So it was no surprise when I turned to Google and found that it was a flotilla that the Queen would be coming down the Thames on.

It was a no brainer to make a large batch of Coronation Chicken for the Jubilee using the awesome recipe that friend of the family Carol had passed to me. This is simply one of the best tasting things you could ever eat. Just make sure you use full-fat mayo. It’s just one of those times where it needs to be done and this really is worth putting a pound on for!!

Coronation Chicken
Serves 6

Ingredients
– 1 large roast chicken, carved
– 1 onion
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 1 tbsp curry powder
– ¼ pint chicken or vegetable stock
– 1 tsp tomato puree
– Juice of ½ lemon
– 1 dessertspoon of mango chutney
– 3 tbsps single cream
– ½ pint of mayonnaise
– Large handful of sultanas
– 2 red apples
– 3-4 celery sticks
– Watercress or rice for serving

Method
1. Roast the chicken as you would normally and let it rest before carving.

2. While the chicken is resting chop and fry the onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until soft. Mix in the tablespoon of curry powder and fry it off.

3. Now add the ¼ pint of stock with the tomato puree, juice of ½ lemon and a dessertspoon of mango chutney. Let it simmer for 5 minutes and then liquidise or strain the mixture. Then let it cool.

4. Now add the cream and the mayonnaise and mix well before adding the meat and stirring well to combine.

5. Chop the apples and the celery and mix in along with the sultanas. Garnish the coronation chicken with watercress and/or rice and eat it before I do!

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