What I'm cooking and eating

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Cabbage, chickpea and bacon soup

This is practically a stew!

1 packet lardons
1 large onion
1 clove garlic
2 potatoes
2/3 small white cabbage
1 tin chickpeas
2 pints water
1 thingy Knorr vegetable Stock Pot
1 Parmesan rind
A little grated Parmesan to garnish

Put lardons in casserole and cook gently until fat runs. Now add chopped onion and garlic, and stir well. Add the potatoes cut into 1-2 cm cubes (don't peel them unless the skin is seriously manky), the cabbage and the chickpeas. Stir again, then add the stock, water, seasoning and Parmesan rind. Bring to boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.

This was based on a recipe in 101 Cookbooks, but I adapt it to suit my needs every time!

Friday, 25 February 2011


Well, I don't know what else to call it! It wasn't quite a couscous, or a tagine, but it was sort-of influenced by that. Above all, it was quick, which is what I wanted (it would have been something quite different if the feta cheese hadn't gone off, so I had to quickly come up with a Plan B!)

1 packet lardons
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tin tomatoes
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 250 g pre-cooked chickpeas)d
1 small sloosh harissa paste
1 large sloosh tomato paste
1 medium courgette
Chunk of butternut squash
1/2 cup couscous
250 ml boiling water
1 tsp Moroccan seasoning
1 tsp Ras-el-Hanout seasoning

Chop onions and garlic and cook in microwave for 3 minutes. While this is happening, reduce courgette and squash to bite-sized chunks and put in a covered, microwave-proof dish. Put couscous and ras-el-hanout into a jug, and pour on 250 ml boiling water.

Cook the lardons in a saucepan until they just start to colour, then add the onions and garlic, stirring well, then the harissa and tomato pastes. Stir well, then add the tin of tomatoes and the drained, rinsed chickpeas. Bring to the boil and add the Moroccan seasoning. Put the squash and courgette into the microwave for 5-6 minutes, until cooked.

Serve by putting the couscous in first, then the courgettes and squash, and top the lot with the tomato-chickpeas-lardons mixture.

Food Diary for Thursday 24 February

Morning: Tea

Mid-morning: Banana, coffee (had bad indigestion and not very hungry)

Mid-afternoon (we had to go to a funeral and didn't get in until nearly 3:00 pm!): Egg, bacon, tomato, mushroom, beans and 1 slice of toast.

Later; 1 slice bread wand cheese

Supper: "Not-tagine"; fruit compote and natural yoghurt.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Liver and Bacon casserole

Husband adores liver. I'm not just so fond of it, but I can eat it. This was lovely with lots of vegetables. At least, the bits that weren't liver were lovely.... the bits that were, were, well, so-so!

2 rashers back bacon, chopped
A chunk (didn't weigh it) of pig's liver (from my brother's pigs, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped or crushed
1/2 pack button mushrooms
1 tin tomatoes
Squoosh of tomato puree
1/3 bottle red wine

Spray olive oil all over the inside of a casserole dish. Start the onion and garlic in the microwave. Put bacon and liver into the casserole, and fry, stirring constantly, until looking cooked. Add the rest of the ingredients, and season well. Bring to the boil and then put in a moderate oven for about 15-20 minutes, until all the vegetables are ready.

With hindsight, I should probably have tossed the liver in seasoned flour, which would have thickened the gravy, but it was, nevertheless, very good (especially if you didn't have much of the liver!).

Food Diary for Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 February

Tuesday 22

Sparrowfart: Tea

At skating: Banana, coffee

Breakfast: Cheese spread and tomato sandwich

Lunch: Fried egg and portabello mushroom in cheese-and-onion topped bap; salad; the end of the lemon tart.

Afternoon: Large mug tea

Later: Toasted bagel, 1/2 butter, 1/2 cream cheese.

Supper: Tortellini with cherry tomato and pesto sauce; fruit compote and natural yoghurt.

Wednesday 23

Was in rather a bad mood for much of the day, and I can't remember whether I had an afternoon snack or not. I don't think I did, as I had lunch rather late.

Breakfast: Tea, toasted bagel spread with butter; piece of Gouda

Lunch: The end of the salad, the end of the chicken and noodle soup.

Supper: Lamb dhansak from take-away.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Chinese-style chicken and noodle soup

Serves several!

1 packet straight-to-wok noodles (or use dried)
1 packet stir-fry vegetable mix. Or make your own, but I tend to buy as I like beansprouts and the various mixes have about the right amount.
2 large cloves garlic
1 chilli pepper
1 piece root ginger, or use those frozen grated chunks
1 tsp (15 ml) stir-fry oil or use your usual cooking oil
1 packet pre-cooked chicken pieces (plain or Chinese-style, if available)
1.5 litres chicken stock (I used a Knorr Stock-pot in 1.5 litres water)
1 tbs (15 ml) Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tbs each dark and light soya sauces
Chinese 5-spice mix and/or other Chinese seasoning

Chop the chilli and garlic. Put the stir-fry oil in a wok, and stir-fry all the vegetables for a minute or two. Add the noodles, seasoning and the boiling stock, and bring back to the boil. If using dried noodles, allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes, otherwise it's ready to serve. Place a few pieces of cooked chicken in the bottom of a large soup mug or bowl, add noodles/vegetables and stock.

I do it that way because it keeps the chicken fresher. You could, of course, use raw chicken and stir-fry it before you add the veg, and I very often do if making a main meal stir-fry but this way is quicker for lunch!

Food Diary for Monday 21 February 2011

Breakfast: Tea, Boursin, carrot and swede sandwich (sounds vile, but actually very nice

Lunch: Chinese chicken and noodle soup; piece of Gouda; slice Barm brack and butter; moar soup....

Snack: Cinnamon and raisin bagel with cream cheese

Supper: As on Sunday, except courgettes instead of butternut squash.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Lemon Tart

This was an adaptation of David Lebovitz' whole lemon bars, and I used an adaptation of his French tart dough for the pastry base. Thank you, David!

For the pastry base:

120 g wholemeal flour (or a little more)
90 g butter
3 tbs (45 ml) water
1 tbs (15 ml) olive or other cooking oil
1 tbs sugar

Put all ingredients except the flour into a bowl, and heat in the microwave until the butter has melted and the water is boiling. You can also heat it in an oven pre-heated to Mark 7 (210 C) for 15 minutes instead. Now add flour and stir quickly until it forms a dough. Using the spoon or a spatula, press this into a 9-inch (22.5 cm) cake or pie tin. Smooth out, prick with fork, and bake in aforesaid hot oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the filling:

1 whole unwaxed lemon, cut into pieces
Juice of 2 more lemons
45 g melted butter
3 eggs
200 g sugar
4 tsp cornflour (not sure what this weighs - I was cursing David all over the place, but then I found my measuring spoons. It would measure 20 ml).

Put everything in your food processor and blitz until the whole lemon is chopped and the mixture is smooth.

Pour into the hot pie-crust; lower the heat to Mark 2 (150 C) and bake for 25 minutes, until the mixture is set. Dust with icing sugar if liked, but as you see from the picture, I didn't!

Food Diary for Sunday 20 February 2011

Early Tea

Breakfast: Coffee, 2 slices toasted home-made bread, spread 1/2 slice each with home-made raspberry jam, honey, peanut butter, and cream cheese and Marmite.

Lunch: Chinese-style chicken and noodle soup. Fresh pineapple.

Snack: A banana, some grapes, piece of Gouda.

Supper: Liver and bacon casserole with mashed potato, mashed swede and carrots, cabbage, leek and butternut squash; glass red wine; lemon tart (as in today's recipe).

Later: 1 Toffifee, mug of Tilleul

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Huevos Ranchos Tostados

This is probably totally inauthentic, but it's my take on what you are served if you order this in Giraffe! Serves 2.

2 tortilla wraps
1 quantity Chilli beans (or use a tin of!)
A little grated cheese
2 eggs, fried or poached
1 quantity fresh salsa, or your preferred type.

Heat the tortilla wraps in the microwave, spread with hot chilli beans, sprinkle with grated cheese. Top with an egg and fresh salsa. I believe the Giraffe version has either spicy sausage or a big mushroom (depending on whether you order the veggie version or not), and you can certainly add those, if you like, but they aren't really necessary. And if you use chilli beans out of a tin and salsa out of a jar, it's really quick. I prefer the home-made versions, though.

Food diary for Saturday 19 February 2011

Various cups of tea and coffee in the morning - I know I had two cups of coffee, in a greedy sort of way.

Breakfast: 2 slices fresh home-made bread, spread 1/2 slice each with chicken liver paté, blackberry jelly (Bonne Maman!), home-made marmelade and butter.

Lunch: Bacon and avocado sandwich on wholegrain bread. Banana.

Supper: 2 sausages from my brother's pigs, baked beans, leeks, mashed potato; home-made lemon tart.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Fresh tomato and avocado salsa

I'm sure this isn't at all authentic, but I like it! Serves 2-3.

3 tomatoes
1 ripe avocado
1 small red onion
1 chilli pepper
2 tbs lime juice, or 1 tbs each lemon and lime, as preferred.

Put the tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for a maximum of 2 minutes, then refresh in cold water. The skins will now slip off easily. Chop the tomatoes, avocado, chilli and onion as finely as you can, and mix in a large bowl with the lime juice, and salt and pepper as liked. This can be eaten at once, of course, but is actually nicer if you make it in the morning to have at supper.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Chilli Beans

This is a bit of an experiment. I will use these in another recipe, which I shall, of course, post here.

3 tbs dried kidney beans
1 large onion
Several cloves garlic, if liked
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 chilli pepper, if you have any
Hot or sweet chilli sauce, to taste

Soak the beans for six hours, drain and rinse. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil and boil hard for at least 10 minutes. Lower the heat and simmer until they are tender. Drain and rinse.

Meanwhile, chop the onion and garlic and either soften in a little olive oil, or cook in the microwave or a few minutes. Transfer to a saucepan and add the tomatoes and chilli, and finally the beans. Bring to the boil and cook gently until most of the liquid has evaporated; stir from time to time and don't let it burn if you can possibly avoid it!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Cherry tomato and pesto sauce

This is so quick and easy; serve with pasta. I pour it over Lidl's tortellini for a quick and cheap supper.

1 punnet cherry tomatoes
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tbs pine nuts
As much fresh basil as you like
About 60 g Parmesan
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the oil in a saucepan and gently toast the pine nuts until they begin to brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon, and add the crushed garlic, the tomatoes which you have pierced with a knife as you put them in, and the balsamic vinegar. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes until the juices run and the tomatoes look cooked - give the pan a little shake from time to time and don't have the flame too high. Now mash the tomatoes with a potato masher (sounds weird, but it works!) until they are all juice and not much substance (you could use a blender, but no need). Add the pine nuts, chopped basil and grated Parmesan, and just heat through again gently until the cheese melts.

MUST get back into keeping my food diary!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Braised pig heart

My brother had just butchered a pig, and I was lucky enough to be given the heart (among other bits!). So what better to eat on Valentine's Day?

The only trouble was, when I went to the fridge, there were no mushrooms, no courgettes, no aubergine, no butternut squash, no leeks and the sweet peppers had gone bad! So I was left to improvise with what I did have. And it was good!

1 pig's heart, cut into small pieces. I removed the big artery from the top.
1 red and 1 white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 chilli pepper, chopped
1 small tin sweetcorn
A similar amount of frozen peas
1/4 cup (60 ml) red lentils
1/2 cup (120 ml) pearl barley
1/2 bottle (325 ml, but I didn't really measure!) red wine
1 tbs cooking oil (I used stir fry oil, as it's seasoned)
1 Knorr beef stock pot (they don't seem to do pork!)
Seasoning included salt, pepper, chilli pepper, paprika, Worcestershire sauce.

I cooked the onions in the oil, and browned the hearts, then added everything else, brought it to the boil and put it in the oven on gas mark 3 for about 3-3 1/2 hours. Served with a green vegetable (Brussels Sprouts in this case).

Sunday, 13 February 2011


1 packet smoked haddock (ideally sustainably-caught)
2 eggs
1 onion
125 ml uncooked basmati rice
1 tbs olive oil
A little turmeric, garam marsala, asafoetida and curry powder (the latter optional)
Quite a lot of parsley or coriander

Cook the haddock according to the instructions on the packet (mine suggested oven-cooking for 15 minutes). Hard boil the eggs, and remove the shells. Cook the onion and spices in the cooking oil (if you want to start the onion in the microwave, this will shorten the cooking process considerably!), then add the rice and 250 ml boiling water. Bring back to the boil, stir, then cover and lower the heat to the merest candle-flame for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, flake the haddock and remove any skin and obvious bones. Chop the hard-boiled eggs and the parsley. Mix all this together and put it back in the oven to keep warm until the rice is cooked. Mix the rice/onion/spice mixture with the fish mixture.

Can be cooled and reheated if and when necessary.

I have not abandoned this blog! My brother-in-law has been staying, and we ate slow-cooker risotto and veggie barley chilli, and I haven't been keeping my food diary. He has now gone home, sadly, and normal service will be resumed!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Lemon curd

4 medium unwaxed lemons
450 g sugar
4 eggs
120 g butter

Grate the lemon zest and squeeze the lemons. Place everything in a large bowl over a pan of simmering water,and cook until it coats the spoon and drips off in two drips. Pot up. Keep in fridge.

I didn't keep my food diary yesterday, not quite sure why, but supper was kedgeree with stir-fried vegetables (recipe for kedgeree to follow), followed by tinned peaches and natural yoghurt.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Cauliflower cheese

Everybody has their own version of this, but this is mine:

1 small cauliflower, split into florets
2 hard-boiled eggs
1 heaped tsp plain flour
250 ml milk
(Optional) About 1 tbs cooking oil or, preferably, 20g butter
60 g cheese (or maybe a little more), grated
200 g frozen sweetcorn
1-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced (if liked!)

Steam the cauliflower until it is cooked as you like it (I do prefer it well done!). Put in oven-proof dish with shelled hard-boiled eggs.

Whisk the flour into the milk with salt, pepper, and a little dry mustard powder; some people like a pinch of nutmeg in this. If using fat, heat it gently in a saucepan, and pour on the milk mixture. Stir continuously until it comes to the boil and thickens. Turn off the heat and add the sweetcorn and half the grated cheese. Pour over the cauliflower mixture.

If you have time or energy, top this with mashed potatoes, but in any case the sliced tomatoes (if using) and the rest of the grated cheese go on the top. Or you could make a "crumble top" with a couple of slices of wholemeal bread whizzed in a food processor with the cheese, and maybe a tablespoonful of sesame seeds stirred in. Putting mashed potatoes on the top does make it a one-dish meal, though; you will need some form of carbohydrate to go with it, whatever.

Food diary for Saturday 5 February

Early tea
2 slices home-made bread with lemon curd, peanut butter, honey and butter. Coffee.

Bacon and avocado sandwich. Mini-lolly.

Tea; slice bread and Nutella; orange; Babybel.

Sausages, mashed potato, leeks, baked beans; natural yoghurt with a teaspoonful of Nutella (it was, after all, World Nutella Day!).

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Vegetarian barley chilli

Pearl barley is really low GI, so a very good carbohydrate. Plus we have too much right now, as a certain husband misunderstood "PB" on the shopping list (which was meant to be peanut butter).

1/2 cup black-eyed beans (125 ml measure)
1/2 cup kidney beans
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 onion
Several cloves of garlic
1 aubergine
1-2 courgettes
1 chilli pepper
1 tin of tomatoes
Such other vegetables as you may have that want using: sweet pepper, mushrooms, leeks, butternut squash, carrots, swede.... vary it!
Glass red wine, if available
About 500 ml total liquid, including wine; vegetable stock cube or Stock Pot.
Seasoning, including lots of chilli pepper and/or sauce.

Soak beans for at least 6 hours, then change their water, put in a saucepan and boil HARD for at least 10 minutes (red kidney beans contain a toxin and will give you food poisoning unless this is done. Of course, if in doubt or you forget, use a tin, but fresh-cooked are nicer; OR you could do this in advance & freeze the beans). Drain and rinse, and then add to a large casserole dish with the chopped vegetables (peeled where necessary), barley, liquids and seasoning. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about an hour. Or you could transfer it to a slow cooker at this stage. Serve with grated cheese.

I defy even the most carnivorous of omnivores to miss the meat out of that one!

Food diary for Friday 4 February

Stupid o'clock: Tea, mini-banana
At skating: Coffee, another mini-banana
Breakfast: Egg and sausage McMuffin (talk about guilty pleasures, but I was waiting for the bank to open), orange juice.
Lunch: Vegetarian barley chilli with cheese.
Snack: Egg mayonnaise sandwich
Supper: Fish and chips, leeks; peaches with natural yoghurt.
Midnight feast: Crust with hummus; slice Edam.

Slow cooker risotto

This was a bit of an experiment. I love risotto and serve it frequently, but it's a pain to cook - takes ages and needs frequent attention. So I decided to see if this way, where it can be forgotten about after the first 10 minutes or so. It was super, but I think next time I'll use 450 or even 400 ml stock rather than the 500 ml I actually did use, as it was a touch on the liquid side.

1/2 packet dried mushrooms (10g)
400-500 ml boiling water
c 1/2 tbs olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, also chopped
1/3 large butternut squash, peeled and diced
200g mushrooms, sliced
125 ml aborio or other risotto rice
125 ml white wine
Seasoning to taste - I used thyme and rosemary as well as salt and pepper
1 stock cube or Knorr Stock Pot, either vegetable or chicken
60 g grated Parmesan

Pour the boiling water over the dried mushrooms and allow to stand for about an hour. Put the olive oil into a saucepan and add the vegetables. Allow to cook, stirring frequently, for several minutes. Then add the rice and seasoning, stir vigorously and add the wine. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently.

Strain the mushrooms from the water in which they have been soaking, chop them and add to the risotto mix. Add the stock to the mushroom water and bring to the boil.

Transfer everything to the slow cooker and leave for at least 3 hours. Stir, then stir in the grated Parmesan.

Food Diary for Thursday 3 February

First thing: Tea
Breakfast: 1 slice toast with egg; 1 slice spread 1/2 with lemon curd, 1/2 with marmalade. Coffee.
Lunch: Veggie barley chilli; 1/2 diet frozen yoghurt with tinned peaches and a scrap of creme fraiche.
Snack: Slice bread and hummus; tiny piece of Camembert
Supper: Cauliflower and egg in corn and cheese sauce; 3-orange mash (that's just sweet potato, swede and carrots boiled and mashed together); Tesco's finest steamed pudding with a little creme fraiche.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Salmon with stir-fried vegetables and noodles

2 frozen salmon fillets
1 pack stir-fry vegetables with beanshoots
2 cloves garlic or 1 brick frozen garlic
Either a bit of root ginger, chopped, or 1 brick frozen ginger
2 plaques Chinese noodles (or a pack of fresh straight-to-wok ones)
1 tbs sherry (should be rice wine, but I don't have any)
1 tbs each dark and light soya sauce
1 tbs chilli sauce
Chinese 5-spice seasoning (or whatever)
1.5 tbs stir-fry oil

Put the fish into a frying pan with 1/2 tbs stir-fry oil. Allow to cook gently. If using dried noodles, cook as recommended on the packet - usually about 3 minutes in boiling water. Mix the sherry or rice wine, soya sauces and chilli sauce, and the 5-spice powder or whatever other seasoning you are using.

While the fish is cooking, heat the rest of the stir-fry oil in a wok, and cook the vegetables, garlic and ginger (you could add a chopped chilli pepper in there, too, only I forgot). When all but cooked, add the sauce mix, and bring to the boil. If using straight-to-wok noodles, add these now. Otherwise drain the ones you are using. You can either mix them in, or put them straight on to plates, topped with the vegetable mix and a salmon fillet.

Food diary for Wednesday 2 February

Stupid o'clock: Tea
At skating: Banana, coffee
Forgot to have any breakfast!
Lunch: Slice Gouda, slice toast with goats' cheese, packet Satay noodles
Snack: Slice barm brack with Cheddar cheese
Supper: Veggie barley chilli; tinned peaches and natural yoghurt.
Middle-of-the-night snack attack: Boursin sandwich with multiseed bread.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Garlic mushrooms and tomatoes

(you don't have to add the tomatoes if you're a tomato hater!)

A spritz of olive oil
A smear of butter (5 g or less!)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
c 100 mushrooms, wiped and sliced
2 tomatoes, quartered
A little salt and pepper
A few drops Tabasco

Put butter and oil in saucepan - you really don't need a lot, and I don't know why mushrooms are infinitely nicer when cooked in butter, but they are! Add all the ingredients, cover, and cook gently for 5-10 minutes.

Food diary for 1 February 2011

Early: Tea
At skating: Banana, coffee
Breakfast: Bought BLT sandwich, slice barm brack and butter
Lunch: Broccoli & Stilton soup, bought mini-pizza (reduced for quick sale to 30p!) and tomato.
Supper: Slow-cooked risotto; caramel-baked bananas with 1 tsp creme fraiche.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

My soups are infinitely variable, but I fancied a classic this time! This makes several helpings - 6 or 7, probably - but will keep in the fridge.

2 medium onions
2 cloves garlic
1.5 heads broccoli
2 litres water
1 Knorr Stock Pot (vegetable or chicken, whichever you prefer)
100 g Stilton
1 small tin sweetcorn (optional)
100 g cooked rice (optional)

Cut up the onions, garlic and broccoli into fairly small pieces; put in large saucepan with water and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Run this through a blender, then return to saucepan and add the Stilton. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.

I like my soups with bits in, so usually add a small tin of sweetcorn, and as I had some cooked rice in the freezer, I added that, too.

Food diary for Monday 31 January

Early: Tea

Breakfast: Peanut butter, Marmite and tomato sandwich; coffee.

Lunch: Broccoli and Stilton soup; bought cheesy mash* with an egg; garlic mushrooms and tomatoes (which were too salty!).

Supper: 2 glasses red wine (oops!); bought Shepherd's pie and peas (Tesco's Finest Meal Deal); raspberry cheesecake pots, also Tesco's, reduced for quick sale.

* I bought the shepherd's pie as it was reduced for quick sale; then bought a Meal Deal and put the main course in the freezer, then realised the cheesy mash would have gone better with it than with the shepherd's pie, so went back and bought another meal deal with peas this time - so we have two meal deal main courses in the freezer, some puds to eat later this week and another bottle of wine! All good stuff....