What I'm cooking and eating

Monday, 28 December 2015

Mum's cheese biscuits

Until this year, Mummy made these every week in the shooting season, and very good they are too.  I have just found the recipe again, so thought I'd post it here where I can find it again!

This makes a baking trayful:

2 slices bread, and the same weight of flour, cheese and butter. Any kind of bread; plain flour (wholemeal is fine) and any kind of cheese, but the stronger-tasting the better.

Whizz in food processor until beginning to come together, knead lightly and roll out. Stamp out with cookie cutter, bake on greased baking tray at Mark 5, 180 (fan oven) or 190 (non fan) for 15 minutes.

Edited to add: Forgot to say you can season this with Tabasco and/or dried chilli flakes, 1/4 tsp dry mustard powder, and a sprinkle of dried mixed herbs. And, of course, you can scale up the quantities really easily - the idea is equal quantities of bread, flour, butter and cheese!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Douceur de courgettes au Vache qui Rit

I first came across this rather odd-sounding soup in a Tetrapak in a French supermarket, and liked it.  These days they seem to do it with goats' cheese, instead, but when I wanted to make soup for our lunch the other day, I thought I'd have a go.  And it is very good, although I used too much garlic (but we both have viruses, so I did that on purpose) - more than the recipe says.

1 tbs coconut oil
1 smallish onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
2 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
About 750g courgettes (zucchini, to my American friends), chopped
1 Knorr (or supermarket own brand) vegetable Stock Pot
1 litre boiling water
 2 Vache qui Rit (Laughing Cow) triangles
1 tbs crème fraîche
Salt and pepper to taste.
1 small tin sweetcorn (optional, but if you like a bit of crunch in your soups, as I do....).

Place the oil, and all the chopped vegetables, in a heavy-based pan, and allow to sweat for a bout 10-15 minutes, stirring cocasionally.  Then add the water and stock, bring to the boil and simmer for around 20 minutes. 

Blend until smooth, then return to pan and add the crème fraîche, cheese triangles and sweetcorn, if using.  Bring back to the boil, stirring, until the cheese has melted.  Serve at once. 

You could, of course, use grated Emmenthal or Cheddar instead of the cheese triangles, in which case I would add them to the soup bowl, rather than to the main body of the soup.  Or as well as.....

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Mushroom, pepper and cream sauce

This goes with steak or magret de canard - it would probably also go with salmon, or anything you fancy, really....

1 small or 1/2 large onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 punnet (c 125 g) button mushrooms, or 2 large field mushrooms
1 large tablespoonful crème fraiche
1 tsp each black and Szechuan peppercorns
2 tsp cognac, armagnac or Calvados (optional, but does add to it!)
A little butter for frying

Chop the onion, crush the garlic, and halve the mushrooms if they are small; larger ones can be cut into relevant-sized pieces. Fry the onions and garlic gently in the butter until transparent, then add the mushrooms and continue to cook until they release their juices. Meanwhile, crush the peppercorns coarsely in a pestle and mortar. Now add them, and the remaining ingredients, to the sauce, bring to the boil, and serve at once.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Courgette crumble

Missed a phone call from the Daughter last night, but she texted me this morning to say not to worry, she had just wanted my recipe for courgette crumble, which she then found in a bunch of recipes I'd typed up for her when she first left home in 1998.  Quite why I included this one, when she was not, at the time, fond of courgettes I don't know, but I did.  I've actually adapted the recipe over the years since then, mostly making it smaller, so I'll say this amount serves 4.... you could halve it, of course, for two, but obviously you can't halve an egg, so just use a whole one - or maybe use two if you use this amount!

1 cup (250 ml by volume) rice (uncooked)
4-5 small courgettes (zucchini)
3 slices wholemeal (wholewheat) bread
3-5 oz cheese, grated
1 egg
1 gill (about 1/2 cup) milk
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook rice in the normal way. Slice courgettes very thinly. You can saute them briefly in a non-stick pan with a spray of olive oil, but I don't bother. Drain rice, and stir in the courgette slices, the egg, milk, seasoning and half the cheese. Put into ovenproof dish.
Make bread into crumbs and mix with remainder of cheese. Spread on top of rice mixture, and bake in moderate oven for about 30 minutes until crust is crisp.

We had an interesting variation on this this evening, as I had two leftover cooked sausages, so instead of putting cheese in the rice mixture, I put the sliced sausages.  The topping still had cheese in it, though!

Monday, 17 August 2015

Home-made lemonade

Two posts today!  But I don't think I've posted this recipe yet, and it is so very good when one is poorly, as I have been the last few days.  In an ideal world, you will possess a large plastic jug - holding maybe 2 litres.  We have a lovely one that fits into the door of the fridge.  But you can use a plastic measuring jug for the first bit, and then transfer into a non-heatproof jug when it has cooled a bit.

3 lemons
3 level tablespoons granulated sugar

Peel the lemons with a vegetable peeler or zester or similar, being careful to get as little of the white pith as possible.  Put the peel and the sugar into a heatproof container, and cover with boiling water.  Stir vigorously until the sugar has dissolved.  Now add the juice of the lemons, and about a litre of cold water, and then a tray of ice-cubes.  You'll probably drink the first glass straight away, but put it in the fridge to chill right down.  It will keep about 24 hours in the fridge, but may well not last that long!

More inspiration

I was originally going to make this, from the Amuse Your Bouche blog (I'm not, as readers will have gathered, vegetarian, but we do eat quite a lot of vegetarian meals).  But we had far more cherry tomatoes that needed using, and I do like a bit of onion in my supper, and she didn't say what, if anything, she served it with.... plus I only had feta, not halloumi, which was going to make it a bit different anyway.  So I ended up with this, and very good it was, too.  Serves 2.

½ aubergine
 1 onion
1 pack cherry tomatoes, plus any you might have over from another pack
½ pack feta cheese
100g pasta - I used coquillettes, but use whatever you have.

 Chop the aubergine and onion, and place them in a lidded pan with a tablespoonful of cooking oil - well, all right, maybe a bit more than that.  Pierce the cherry tomatoes and add these.  Cover, and cook for about 20 minutes on a lowish heat, stirring occasionally, and turn down the heat if it looks like catching.  Season with salt, pepper, and what else you like - I used pomegranate molasses and za'atar:

Chop the cheese into cubes about the size of the cubes of aubergine.

Meanwhile boil the pasta for the length of time specified on the packet, drain it, and add it to what's in the pan, together with the chopped feta.
Cook for another minute or so, stirring constantly, until everything is mixed together and the cheese is hotted through - it doesn't really melt.  Serve immediately.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Banana pancakes

You will have seen these online everywhere, I shouldn't wonder, with massive great headlines: she made these wonderful pancakes with just two ingredients, or similar.

But the point is, they are delicious, and they are easy, and you can make them for afternoon snack with your five-year-old grandson in a very few minutes.

You simply whisk 1 egg per small, or 2 eggs per large ripe banana together until everything is smooth - my daughter, at whose house I was making these, had small bananas, so we mashed them first and then whisked them until they were more-or-less smooth.  Then I heated some oil in a frying pan - not a lot, only about a tablespoonful, if that, and when it was hot we ladled tablespoonfuls into the pan.  You cook them like drop scones or Scotch pancakes, nice and thick.  It looked disgusting in the frying pan.  The Boy said it looked like custard, but actually, it looked like puke (it was not as smooth as it could be, and the bananas were somewhat over-ripe).  Anyway, once they are dry-ish on top, you turn them over and cook the other side until golden, and serve immediately.  A professional cook would probably dust these with icing sugar, but they are actually sweet enough as it is, and really don't need anything with them.  And of course they tick all the boxes by being gluten-free, low carb and no added sugar!  And vegetarian....

Well worth doing.  Even my grandsons, who don't like eggs much, like these.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Fusion Trout

The Swan Whisperer wanted trout for his supper yesterday (Sunday), and I was wondering how to serve it, as there are so very many ways of cooking and serving trout.  So yesterday and today (it was a large trout) we had it, first with a Chinese-style stir-fry and then with a Moroccan-style couscous.  And I cooked the trout "à la Meunière", which is French..... 
1) The Trout

1 large trout, defrosted if frozen
A little milk
2 tbs flour, seasoned to taste

Dip the trout in milk, and then in the flour.  Fry in butter in a covered pan for about 7-8 minutes each side, or until cooked through.

2. The Stir-fry

 ½ cup (125 ml by volume) rice
1 cup (250 ml) boiling water, possibly with a Stock Pot.  I wanted to use a fish one, but found I had none, so used a vegetable one instead.
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 courgette, chopped
1/3 pack beansprouts (which I happened to have)
(You can use whatever vegetables you like here - peas and broad beans work well.  The onion is pretty much mandatory, but apart from that....)
1 egg
Soya sauce

Chinese stir-fries traditionally contain crushed ginger and garlic, and chopped chillis, and are seasoned with 5-spice, but I didn't what to overwhelm the trout, so left out the ginger and chillis, and didn't fancy the 5-spice, so used Lidl's "Stir-fry seasoning", which I'm not sure what it contains but is very nice.

Put the rice in the boiling water or stock, bring back to the boil, cover, turn the heat down to the bare minimum, and leave undisturbed for 15 minutes (40-45 minutes if it's brown rice).  Meanwhile prepare the vegetables (and cook the trout), and stir-fry them for about 5 minutes.  Add the cooked rice and soya sauce to taste, and then make a gap in the middle of the rice and add the egg, which you stir and stir through the rice until it's cooked.  Serve with the trout on top.

3. The couscous

I actually had some of the vegetable stew left over from last week, which had spent the weekend in the freezer, but I make it like this:

1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 leek (optional)
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large or 2 small courgettes, chopped
Either 1 tin chick peas, drained and rinsed, or 1/2 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight then boiled for about 30 minutes, drained.
About 12 dried apricots, cut in half
1 tin tomatoes, chopped or pureed.

Put all this in a frying pan or saucepan with some oil, and cook on a low heat until all the vegetables are cooked, probably about 30-35 minutes.  Season with ras-el-hanout, if you have any, and/or Moroccan seasoning, and then make a hot sauce with some harissa paste diluted with the juices from the pan, or with boiling water if you haven't quite enough juices.

Meanwhile, put ½ cup (125 ml by volume) of couscous in a bowl or jug with some salt and 1 cup (250 ml) boiling water and allow to sit for 10 minutes; then stir with a fork to break up any lumps.

Serve the couscous at the bottom, the stew in the middle, and the trout (as this was leftover, I hotted it up in the microwave) on the top, and pour over the hot sauce to taste.

Sorry there aren't any photos. 

Friday, 19 June 2015

Halloumi with chickpeas, mushrooms, tomatoes and noodles

On Monday, the Swan Whisperer and I went into Brixton to explore the new Pop Brixton that has opened where the ice-rink used to be, but as it was Monday, everything was firmly closed.  So we got our lunch from a street stall called Pots of Brixton, which was a jacket potato place.  The SW had a meat filling, but I chose the veggie one, which was halloumi, chickpeas, mushrooms and tomatoes.  So, of course, I had to try to recreate it at home, only with noodles instead of potatoes.

½ packet halloumi cheese, sliced, and each slice cut in half.
½ punnet mushrooms, sliced
4-5 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or the equivalent amount of dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked (which is what I used, as they are nicer)
Seasonings to taste
100 g rice noodles (this was too much - 75g would have been better)

Place the vegetables in a lidded pan with a little oil, and allow to cook in their own steam for about 10-15 minutes.  Do NOT do what I did and leave the heat too high so that it dries out - this would have been a lot nicer if I hadn't!

 Add the cooked chickpeas, and heat through.  Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet.
Meanwhile fry the halloumi on both sides (it doesn't need any oil) until golden.  
Mix everything together and serve.... as I said, it was lovely, but would have been nicer if it hadn't dried out a bit, and we really didn't need so many noodles.

Monday, 8 June 2015


Traditionally, of course, bubble and squeak is made with left over mashed potatoes and cabbage, maybe seasoned with onion, and fried.  But I didn't have any left-over vegetables - well, I do, actually, but neither potatoes nor cabbage - and I wanted this particularly to eat with Nurnberg sausages, which I thought it would complement nicely.  It did.

2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
3 medium potatoes, cut into small pieces
1/2 green cabbage (or less - the amount you would prepare for two of you, basically)
1 tbs cooking oil
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
Salt and pepper

Put everything into a large frying-pan and stir.  Cover, and reduce the heat.  Allow to cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve with sausages or bacon and eggs or something delicious like that.....

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Quick tomato and red pepper soup

1 onion
1 sweet red pepper
1 400g tin tomatoes
A few cherry tomatoes, if you have spare ones
1 small tin sweetcorn (optional)

Sweat the chopped onion, pepper and cherry tomatoes in a little cooking oil.  Add the tin of tomatoes and a full tin of water.  Season - I used salt, pepper, herbs, chilli sherry and a vegetable "stock pot".  Bring to the boil and simmer for ten minutes.

 Blend to the desired consistency and then, if liked, add a tin of sweetcorn.

This is nicest with a dollop of creme fraiche in it, but I didn't have any.... Tomorrow, perhaps....


Friday, 29 May 2015

Gran's extra-special macaroni cheese

My Boy ended up coming to tea today, so a quick change of plans - I had been going to make a butternut squash and mushroom risotto, but I know his favourite food ever is macaroni cheese.  So I thought I would introduce him to the version that his mother adored when she was a little girl, as I could make enough for 3 and then just pop his share under the grill while the cheese melted.  His verdict?  "I do like it, but it's not my absolute favourite.  That's the one they make at school!"

1 small onion, chopped
1 packet lardons
1 small tin sweet corn
1 tin tomatoes
1 heaped tsp flour
Pepper to taste
A little dry mustard powder, to taste (about ¼ tsp)
About 100 g Cheddar cheese, grated.
100-125 g macaroni-type pasta (depending on how many are eating it)

Put the onions and lardons into a pan, and allow to cook until the onion has softened.  Meanwhile, put the pasta on to boil according to the instructions on the packet.  Place the tin of tomatoes, the flour and the seasonings into a jug, and whizz with a stick blender until smooth (or use a regular blender).  Pour this mixture on to the top of the onions and lardons, and bring to the boil, stirring all the time, until it thickens.  Add the sweetcorn at some stage.  When it is boiling, turn off the heat and add half the grated cheese*, stirring until it melts.  Stir in the cooked pasta, top with the remaining grated cheese, and either put under the grill until the cheese bubbles, or, if you have let it sit for any length of time, shove it in a moderate oven for half an hour.

* My daughter's absolute favourite was if I topped it with a slice of bread made into breadcrumbs and mixed with the grated cheese, but the Boy is on record as saying he didn't think he'd like that.  And anyway, that really does need to be cooked in the oven, and time was slightly of the essence here!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Salmon Fried Rice

I forgot to take a photo of this before eating it, and I don't think a photo of my empty plate would quite have the same effect!  It was excellent.

2 salmon fillets
½ cup uncooked white or brown rice (125 ml by volume)
1 small red onion
2 cloves garlic
1 block frozen ginger (or similar amount of grated, fresh ginger, or even ½ tsp dried powder)
1 piece turmeric root (optional, but I had some to use up)
1 fresh chilli (if you don't have one, use dried or powder)
A large amount (I can't be more specific - a soup mugful?) of frozen peas, sweetcorn and broad beans.  You could, of course, substitute other vegetables - broccoli would be nice, or mangetout, or whatever you fancy.
2 eggs
Chinese seasonings of your choice (soya sauce, 5-spice powder, whatever else)

Cook your rice as you usually do. Meanwhile, stir-fry the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and turmeric root, if using, fresh vegetables if you're using them, and the frozen veg.  You can either fry the salmon in a separate pan, or cut it into chunks and stir-fry it with everything else, up to you.

Beat up the eggs with the seasoning, and add the cooked rice (you can cook this in advance, if you like - isn't it supposed to reduce the carb content? - but if you do, make very, very, very sure you chill it thoroughly and quickly) and eggs.  Stir until the eggs are cooked and everything is piping hot.  Serve at once, with chopsticks.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Inspired by......

For me, part of the point of recipes is that they can be a jumping-off point for your own dishes.  Unless I am seriously trying to re-create a dish, I tend not to follow recipes too slavishly, especially when it's something like stew or a curry that can, and should, be modified to suit your own tastes. 

So, anyway, the other day I read this recipe, for leek and feta croquettes.  I thought they sounded lovely, but I know from past, bitter experience, that if I try to roll things in breadcrumbs and fry them, they go all over the place and seriously don't look like what they are supposed to look like.  Probably because I rush them, but anyway.

And I had some butternut squash that wanted using up, and one of my favourite things to do with butternut squash is to mix it with feta and couscous in a tomato sauce.   And I had far too many leeks.... and found a packet of udon noodles in the cupboard.  And this was the result:

½ butternut squash, cut into chunks.
1 large leek, finely chopped
1 400 g tin tomatoes
2 tsp plain flour
1 tbs cooking oil
1 oz butter
½ packet feta cheese, crumbled
1 packed udon noodles

Put the squash, the leeks and the cooking oil into a frying-pan with a lid, and cook on a low heat, stirring fairly frequently, until the squash is soft and beginning to caramelise around the edges.  Whizz the tomatoes with the flour with a stick blender until smooth; season to taste.  In a separate saucepan, melt the butter, then add the tomato mixture and bring to the boil, stirring all the time.  Stir in the crumbled feta and pour over the leeks and squash.  Adjust seasoning.   Serve with the noodles which you have prepared according to the instructions on the packet (you can, of course, use another sort of noodles, or pasta, or whatever).

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Seville Orange Marmalade

You can scale this up, as you wish.  Each batch makes about 2½ kg, c. 5lbs of marmalade.  There are a couple of different ways of doing it, both a hassle, but worth it in the end.


1 1kg bag Seville oranges
1 kg preserving or granulated sugar
1 lemon
1 litre water (or less, depending which method you use).

First Method:

Place the whole fruit and the water in a pressure cooker, bring to pressure and cook for 20 minutes at high pressure.  Allow to cool.  When fruit is cool enough to handle (you can leave it overnight, of course), cut each piece in half, scoop out the insides and return them to the pan, and chop the peels very finely.  Boil the insides in the pan for 5 minutes, then strain to remove the pips.  Add the chopped peel and sugar, and proceed as below.

Second Method:

Cut fruit in half and juice it.  Measure the juice, and make up to 1 litre with water.  Boil the pips with some of this liquid (about 150 ml) for 5 minutes, and make up the jug to 1 litre again.  Strain the pips.  Meanwhile, you have been chopping the peels, which is a lot harder when they are not cooked, but you save time by not having to wait for it to cool once the pressure cooker has lost pressure.  Boil the chopped peel in the juice at high pressure for 20 minutes, allow to cool at room temperature, and then proceed.

Both Methods:

Put the sugar into a large pan and add the cooked fruit/water/juice mix.  Stirring all the time, heat gently until it comes to the boil, then allow to boil, stirring frequently, until setting point is reached, which you test on a plate you had previously put in the freezer.  "When it gels, it's jam" to quote Elizabeth Goudge.  Allow to sit for ten minutes, then stir, pot in glass jars which you have sterilised in a warm oven while all this has been going on, and seal.
This is two batches.  I'm wondering if it would be a best or worst of both worlds to cook the oranges after halving and juicing them, but before chopping.  One would still have to wait until they were cool enough to handle, though, which is a nuisance unless you cook them before you go to bed and finish off next day.  Still undecided about which method I prefer.....

For Susan Gerules.

Oh bum, just discovered I already posted this recipe back in 2012.... oh well.  I could delete this, I suppose, but I've written it now....

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Crayfish curry

I don't like prawns, and have been made sick by them in the past, so I don't eat them.  But I do like crayfish, and Lidl sells crayfish tails alongside prawns.  So use whichever you like. 

And what was left of the curry/rice mixture was even nicer next day!

1 tbs cooking oil
1 tsp each coriander seeds, cumin seeds (crushed in a pestle and mortar if necessary), black mustard seeds, turmeric, garam marsala, and dried crushed chillis
1 lump frozen ginger (or grate your own - I'm lazy!)
2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 onion
1 smallish sweet potato
1/3 vegetable marrow (or 1 smallish courgette)
1 tin tomatoes
Tinful of water (fill the unrinsed tin, to get the most juice)
1 tbs coconut milk  powder (or use a tin of coconut milk instead of the water)
1 fish Stockpot (or stock cube, whatever)
1/2 cup (125 ml by volume) long grain rice

Packet cooked prawn or crayfish

Fry all the spices, the garlic and the ginger in the oil, stirring all the time.  Then add the vegetables which you have peeled and chopped (and removed the seeds if you use a chunk of marrow).  Cook these with the lid on over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the tomatoes, water, coconut powder and rice.  Bring to the boil, stirring frequently, then lower the heat, cover, and leave to cook for 15 minutes, until the rice is cooked.

Divide the crayfish or prawns into two plates and spoon the curry over the top.

As I said, there was a little bit much for two, so we had the rest of it next day and it was even nicer!

Friday, 9 January 2015

Cheesy Eggy Bread

Warning: do not read this if you are being healthy for January.  I was in need of comfort food today, and this was it!

Eggy Bread was a staple of school breakfasts, and very good it was, too.  It wasn't quite the same as French toast, as I understand the latter to be sweet and served with fruit, while this was definitely savoury and could well be served with bacon.

So I decided to make an American-style "grilled cheese sandwich", but to soak the bread in beaten egg first.... yes, I know, heart attack on a plate, but there are times....

2 slices Tesco cornbread (which I have a craze on just now, but of course, any other bread will do just fine)
Cheddar cheese (or other melty cheese of your choice)
1 egg

Butter the bread and make a cheese sandwich with it.  Beat the egg, and season with salt and pepper, then turn the sandwich over in it several times until the bread is soaked.  Fry in butter on both sides, pouring any excess egg over the top of the bread..... Lovely!  But really, not to be eaten too often!