What I'm cooking and eating

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Potato gratin, sort of.

This is definitely not a gratin dauphinois, as that does not have cheese on it, as any foodie will tell you!  Nor, I think, does it contain onions, but only garlic.  But I wanted a warming potato casserole to go with salmon and Brussels sprouts for Sunday dinner, and wanted to play around with spiralising potatoes and onions.

Heat your oven to Gas Mark 4, 180 C.

1 medium onion, which I spiralised on the flat blade of the spiraliser
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 potatoes, spiralised into noodles
The end of a 200 ml pot of creme fraiche, filled up and then refilled with milk (so c 400 ml milk/cream mixture in total)
Salt and pepper, to taste
The end of a packet of grated Emmenthal - probably about a tablespoonful.

Fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes in vegetable oil in a casserole dish that will go on both the top of the stove and in the oven.  Add the potato noodles and stir well.  Season, and stir again.  Now add the milk/cream mixture, and top with the Emmenthal.

Bake for about an hour, until the potatoes are cooked.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Dried fruit compote

A winter favourite, infinitely variable.

About 200-250 grammes of dried fruit - you can buy mixes in places like Lidl, or you can use up the ends of packets - prunes, dried apricots, maybe some dried apple, pear or mango.  Also a sprinkle of sultanas, raisins or dried cranberries.

Cover the fruit in boiling water and leave to stand for an hour or so.

Then add a little sugar - it really won't need much, a couple of teaspoons.... but to your taste.  And a teaspoonful of cornflour which you have whisked into a little more water.  And - and this is the Sekrit Ingredient - a teabag.  It doesn't have to be Yorkshire; in fact, this is one of the occasions when a perfumed tea is good.  Earl Grey, or, better still, that Indian spiced tea you can buy that gives me indigestion to drink.  This time, I used an infusion which I like called "Winter Spice Mix" 

This all goes into a saucepan, which you put on the stove (duh), bring to the boil, and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes or so until the fruit is plumped up and soft.  Taste to adjust the sweetness, discard the teabag, and serve hot or cold with natural yoghurt, cream, custard or even ice-cream.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016


My mother used to make this often in our childhood; she always called it "Pelau", although I am not at all sure this is the correct name.  I called it risotto when I first made it, but then I learnt how to make "proper" risotto, so have reverted to its original name.  And updated the seasoning a bit, too!  You can also make this with chicken; and probably with any leftover cold meat, but I usually use lamb.

1 quantity cold cooked lamb (enough for two people - I can't be specific as to quantities), cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 quantity frozen peas (again, you know your family's appetite!)
1 quantity sultanas or raisins (I used a 70g tub)
1 quantity roasted peanuts
Leftover gravy
Seasoning (I used pepper - no salt, as the peanuts provided that - Worcester sauce and ras el hanout)
1/2 cup by volume uncooked rice (125 ml)

Cook the rice as you normally do, and while this is happening, sweat the onions and garlic in a little cooking oil.  When they start to turn translucent, add the rest of the ingredients and allow to simmer until the rice is cooked.  Mix together, and serve, with mango chutney if liked.

If you have leftover vegetables, by all means add them!  And if you don't have any gravy, use a little water and perhaps a "Stock Pot" - I see they do them in lamb now.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Emergency chicken soup

This was made in rather a hurry as my daughter went down with tonsillitis.  I put a great deal of immune-boosting foods in there, and the end result was really rather spicy.... not unpleasant, though, with a spoonful of cream in there to cut the spice!

For the stock:

1 chicken carcase (I bought a cooked chicken from Lidl, and removed all the meat from the bones; we used the meat in salads, sandwiches and suppers, so nothing was wasted)
1 onion
2 carrots
1 parsnip
2.5 litres water
1 chicken "stock pot"
1 chicken bouillon cube

Boil all this up together in a pressure cooker for 30 minutes. Allow to cool, then drain, and discard solids.

For the soup itself

1/2 cup "soup mix"
1 small onion
5 cloves garlic (or more - why not?)
1 chilli pepper
1 cube frozen grated ginger (or use about 25g fresh ginger)
1 leek
1 sweet red pepper
1 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste

To serve: spoonful of creme fraiche or sour cream

Soak the "soup mix" (grains, beans and peas) in boiling water with 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda for at least 30 minutes. 
Put the onion, garlic, chilli and fresh ginger (if using) into a food processor with a little water, and blitz until smooth.  Put this mix in to a casserole dish to which you have added a little cooking oil.  If you are using the frozen ginger, put that in, too.  Cook gently with the turmeric until just not raw any more.

Add the stock to this mixture, and put the drained, rinsed soup mix into the empty pressure cooker with 1 litre fresh water and boil for 10 minutes.  When it has come down from pressure, drain and add to the soup with the leek and sweet pepper, which you have chopped very finely.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Adjust seasoning - I found this extremely spicy, so am serving it with a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream in each bowl to "cut" it.  But it is very good.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Oodles and Oodles of Vegetable Noodles!

I was feeling a bit silly this evening, and it is silly to leave the spiraliser in the cupboard doing nothing. So.....

The following vegetables were chopped, and they were all, except the peppers, peeled:
1 onion
1 clove garlic (actually, this was crushed, but same difference)
1 leek
1 chunk butternut (I would have spiralised this, but it wasn't the straight neck bit but the curvy bit that goes round the seeds, and it didn't want to)
2 tomatoes
1 pointed sweet red pepper
1 chilli pepper

The following were spiralised. If you don't have a spiraliser, of course, you may continue to chop, but I have to say I did like the difference in texture that the spiraliser gave.
1 courgette
2 carrots
1 parsnip
1/2 sweet potato.

 For the baba ghanoush dressing: 
1/2 aubergine, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic
2 tbs olive oil
1 large tbs tahini
1 tbs lemon juice
A little boiling water, to slacken

Put everything into a large sauté pan or casserole dish into which you have put about a tablespoonful of cooking oil. Add the veg as they are ready, so prepare those that take longest to cook first, and stir the result every time you lift the lid. Season to taste - I used salt, pepper, soya sauce and a little chilli sherry. When all the vegetables have been added, leave to cook for a further 15 minutes or so, until everything is cooked to your taste.
Meanwhile, also peel and dice the 1/2 aubergine, and put this in a separate saucepan with the olive oil and crushed garlic. Allow to cook on a low heat until the aubergine is very soft. Transfer to a food processor and add the remaining ingredients, except the hot water.  Process until it stiffens, then add hot water and continue to process until it reaches the desired texture - what I think in cake terms is called a "dropping batter" - it will drip off your spoon, but not too runny.
That is not a very good photo, sorry!  I never pretended to be a food photographer....

When the vegetables are cooked to your liking (I like them more cooked than many people do), stir the baba ghanoush (it isn't quite that, because that requires roasted aubergine, but almost) through the stew, and serve.  It makes enough for four, and I'm debating poaching an egg in the leftovers before I serve them....

One day I shall learn that my phone casts its own shadow when I photograph my plate!!!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Stuffed vegetables

Returning  from a weekend in Sussex, I was loaded down with produce from my mother's and my brother's gardens, including an overgrown courgette and a very large onion.  Which both, obviously, lent themselves to stuffing. And after a bit of thought and research, I came up with this:

For the filling:

1/2 cup by volume bulghur wheat, soaked in 1 cup by volume boiling water
The inside of the onion, chopped (or, if you are stuffing a pepper, for instance, use a small onion or shallot, and peel and chop it)
A couple of tomatoes, peeled and chopped
A few olives, cut in half (either green or black, but I think black works best)
A sloosh of tomato paste
1/2 pack feta cheese, cubed

Vegetables to stuff - a large onion, cut in half, or vegetable marrow/overgrown courgette with the seeds removed, or a hollowed-out butternut squash (you stuff the hollow where the seeds were), or sweet peppers.... whatever, really.

Fry the chopped onions in a little oil until they are transparent, then add the tomatoes and allow to cook for another few minutes.  Then add the rest of the ingredients, and season to taste (I used pomegranate molasses, ras el hanout, sumac and dried parsley.  But you can use whatever you like.

Transfer the stuffing into the hollow of the vegetables
 and bake in a hottish oven for about an hour, until the base vegetables are cooked. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Noodles and - noodles!

I recently treated myself to a spiralizer - it was a special deal on Amazon, reduced to £10, rude not to, really.  I've been wanting one for ages.

But you know me, I'm not one to eat chopped-up cauliflower and pretend it's rice, or chopped-up courgettes and pretend it's pasta, but what's wrong with mixing them?  So, as I wanted to try to play with the spiralizer, I thought I'd make some vegetable "noodles" and then some home-made ones, and serve them with a bacon, mushroom, tomato and sweetcorn sauce.

Well, it took some experimenting, and I ended up "sharpening" one of the courgettes, but by the time I'd got to the butternut squash, I'd worked out what to do.
I was really rather impressed with myself!

So that was two small courgettes and a chunk of butternut, more-or-less successfully spiralised.

For the sauce:
1 packet lardons (bacon bits), ideally unsmoked
1/2 punnet mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
1 packet passata (or a tin of crushed tomatoes)
1 small tin sweetcorn
Season with pepper and maybe some chilli sherry - it doesn't need salt.

Fry the bacon until it renders, then add the sliced mushrooms and crushed garlic.  When the mushrooms collapse, add the rest of the ingredients and leave to simmer while you prepare the various noodles.

1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 egg
enough water to make a stiff paste
(if you add too much, add more flour)
Mix to a dough, then press through the larger holes of a potato ricer into a saucepan of boiling salted water. 
In a wok, heat some oil and add the vegetable noodles, stirring all the time.  When the flour noodles come to the boil, allow to cook for one minute and then drain, and add to the rest of the noodles. 
Continue to stir-fry for another minute or two, then divide into two plates and put the sauce on top.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Oeufs Florentine

I am not at all sure this is the correct way to cook oeufs florentine.  In fact, it probably isn't - but who cares, because it's very quick and very easy.  I had planned to take a photograph when I had served it, but it flipped over and all you could see was an unpretty mound of spinach!

I never used to like spinach when I was a child, but I think that, rather like kale, modern cultivars are milder in taste.  But even though it must be fifteen years or so since I discovered that actually, it was edible, I was still a bit wary of it as it seemed to have a taste that overwhelmed everything else on the plate, rather like coriander can if you use too much.  But the baby spinach, sold for use in salads, is also very mild when cooked - yes, it tastes like spinach, of course, and if you don't like that you won't like it, but it doesn't dominate or overpower.  My brother, who has always liked spinach, says he just snips the corner of the bag and shoves the lot in the microwave!  But don't do that if you aren't sure that the spinach has been washed, or it's a good way to get a mouthful of grit!  And, of course, it is also lovely raw, in a salad or sandwich.

1 dollop of butter (about 20g - what Americans would call a teaspoonful, I suppose)
1 large handful baby spinach, washed if necessary
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a small saucepan - a milk saucepan is ideal - and put the spinach on the top.  Allow it to cook for a minute or two, and stir vigorously to make sure all of it wilts and cooks.  Now lower the heat and break and egg on the top, leaving this to cook (cover the pan, if possible) for several minutes until the white is firm and the yolk as firm as you like it.

Serve on (ideally) a toasted muffin or a slice of toast.  Or not, if you're being low-carb and can digest an egg without bread....

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Cheese and onion flatbreads

This is still slightly a work in progress, so no photos - they didn't really work tonight!  I know what I did wrong - I added all the water at once, as I would had I been going to make the dough in a bread machine, when really, I should have added it bit by bit.

1/2 packet (250 g) cheese and onion bread mix
up to 160 ml warm water

Put the bread mix into a bowl and add the water, working it all the time (a hand mixer with dough hooks is a plan, or use the dough hook on your food processor, if it has one, but you can do it by hand if you wish) until it is smooth and non-sticky.  Let it sit for about 30 minutes, until it has risen a bit. 

Knock it back, and roll it out as thin as possible on a floured board.  Cut in half (or thirds, or quarters, but this amount is ideal for two) and heat a little sunflower oil in a frying pan.  Add the flat bread and cook for a minute or two on each side, as hot as possible.  Then cook the second/subsequent ones in the same way.  Serve at once.  

Monday, 9 May 2016


Well, it's sort of a hash, and it contains fish, so.....

2 white fish fillets (if frozen, thawed as much as necessary to cut into bite-sized chunks)
Additional fish - shrimps or prawns, if liked, or crayfish tails, or, as here, squid rings (just a handful).
1 onion, chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
A sensible amount of cabbage, chopped
I added 1/2 green pepper, as I had it in the fridge and it wanted using.
Seasoning, to taste
A little cooking oil

Put the cooking oil into a large sauté dish or casserole and add the vegetables.  Season, and cook on a low heat, covered, until the potatoes are soft (the other veg will be cooked by then, too).  Then add the fish, raise the heat slightly and cook for another couple of minutes until the fish is cooked through.  Serves 2.

This might have been nice with sweet chilli sauce, but I couldn't be bothered to go and find any...

Friday, 6 May 2016

Pasta au Nicholas

I do fail as a food blogger - I forgot, once again, to take a photo of my dinner before I ate it, and nor did I think to take a photo of that which inspired this meal.

My younger grandson and I were at the parent and toddler group we frequent most weeks, and he decided to "feed" me from the toy kitchen.  With the selection of toy food he brought over, we decided that a meal of pasta, mushrooms, garlic  and grated cheese would be delicious - and so it proved!  So, in his honour, I have named this dish "Pasta au Nicholas".  Serves 2.

100 g pasta (I used dischetti, the original "toy" pasta was farfalle)
 A dollop of butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 punnet mushrooms, halved
1/2 tbs creme fraiche
Sprinkle dried parsley
2 tbs grated cheese (I used Emmenthal, but Parmesan or Cheddar would be fine, too).

Melt the butter, and add the crushed garlic and halved mushrooms.  Stir, then cover, and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes, while you cook the pasta.  When it is cooked, drain it and add the remaining ingredients.  Season to taste, and eat at once.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

St Patrick's Day Casserole

Drat it, I keep forgetting to take photos of what I cook until all there is left is an empty plate....

The American-Irish may eat corned beef and cabbage on St Patrick's Day, but the Irish at home traditionally ate bacon - this turned out to be either unobtainable or desperately expensive when they arrived in New York, so they turned to beef as a good second-best, and now have forgotten they ever ate anything else! 

But here it is bacon, and this is my take on the tradition.  As I said to the Swan Whisperer, I could have just served grilled rashers alongside steamed potato and cabbage, but I thought this would be tastier - and it was!  Enough for 2.

1 packet lardons
1 onion
5 small potatoes
¼ green Savoy-type cabbage

Cook the lardons gently until the juice and fat run, then add the rest of the vegetables which you have peeled, chopped and shredded, as appropriate (leave the potatoes in dice, chop the onions and shred the cabbage).  Season with pepper - it does not need extra salt - and stir several times while you leave it to cook on a gentle heat for about 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016


I had been going to make minestrone soup for lunch, but somehow the morning got away from me and it didn't happen.  And I hadn't the least idea what to make for supper.  And then I thought that a minestrone soup isn't that different to the large vegetable stews I so often make, and what if I made it more stew-like that soup-like..... so I did, and it was really rather delicious.  Enough for 4 people.

 1/2 cup dried cannelini beans (or 1 400g tin, drained and rinsed)

1 tbs olive oil

A few basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 chilli pepper

1 onion
1 carrot
1 small parsnip
A chunk of swede (rutabaga)
2 small potatoes
1 leek
1 courgette (zucchini)

 ½ punnet mushrooms

1 400g tin tomatoes + ½ tinful boiling water

Salt, pepper, marjoram, oregano, thyme, 1 vegetable "Stock pot"

100g small pasta

Parmesan cheese, to serve.

Soak the beans for several hours, then drain and rinse, and boil in fresh water for about 30 minutes, until cooked.   Meanwhile, blitz the garlic, chilli and basil together in a food processor.  Then grate the rest of the vegetables, except the mushrooms.  As the drum of the food processor gets full (you didn't think I meant you should grate them by hand, did you?), empty it into a heavy-based casserole dish into which you have put the olive oil.

Slice the mushrooms and add them to the vegetables, and finally add the tomatoes, water and seasonings.  Stir thoroughly, then bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Then add the beans and the pasta, and cook for a further 9-10 minutes, until the pasta is cooked.

Serve with masses of Parmesan or other grated cheese.

Friday, 4 March 2016


This was going to be shakshuka, and then it sort of morphed into a tortilla.  So Shaksilla, no?

1tsp coconut oil
1 onion
½ large red pepper
3 small potatoes
½ pack Lidl small sausages (Nurnberg bratwurst)
1 large tomato
4 eggs
Seasoning as you would season shakshuka - harissa or Lebanese seasoning or chilli or what you use.

Peel and chop the potatoes and onion, and cook gently in a covered pan in the coconut oil.  Chop the peppers, and cut the sausages into 3 pieces each, and add to the pan.  Season, and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes.  Chop the tomato and add that.  Cook for a further few minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are cooked.  Now whisk the eggs until they are all one texture, and then pour over the vegetable/sausage mix.  Cover again and cook on a gentle heat for another 5 minutes, until the eggs are set. 

Monday, 29 February 2016

Home made noodle bake

I thought that, as an experiment, I'd try using home-made noodles in my usual leek and broccoli pasta bake.  They worked very well indeed.

The quickest and easiest way to make noodles is to use a potato ricer like this one, and use the disk with the fewest holes.  However, if you don't have one, you can always rest the dough in the fridge for a bit, then roll it out as thinly as possible, flour it, roll it up gently and then cut the resulting cylinder into strips, as Becca does over at Amuse your Bouche.  If I were making it that way, I'd use a strong flour, but in a ricer, any flour will do.  I did once try making noodles with gram flour and binding them with tahini, but this was a dismal failure! 

Anyway these ones were made with a mixture of buckwheat flour (which is gluten free, so if you needed to you could make them with 100% buckwheat) and ordinary plain flour.

So.  To the recipe.  Apologies for lack of photos, but it might not have worked well.....

Serves 2.

1 leek
1/2 head broccoli
250 ml milk
2 tsp plain flour
25 g butter
Salt, pepper and mustard powder to season
2 large handfuls grated cheese (probably about 100g each, but maybe less)
1 large tomato
125 ml (1/4 cup) buckwheat flour
125 ml (1/4 cup) plain flour
1 egg
A little water

Cut the broccoli into florets and steam them until al dente.  Chop the leek very finely and cook gently in the butter until soft. It saves time if you can do this in an oven-proof dish that will also go on the hob.

Meanwhile, make the noodles by mixing the last 4 ingredients in the list together until a stiff dough is formed.  I seasoned with salt, pepper and mustard, just as I did the sauce.  Press through potato ricer into boiling water, and when the water comes back to the boil, drain and reserve.

Put the 2tsp flour and the seasoning into the milk and whisk well until combined.  Pour this over the leeks and butter, and bring to the boil, stirring all the time.  When the sauce thickens and boils, remove from heat and stir in half the cheese, and all the broccoli and noodles.  If it's already in an oven-proof container, smooth it down, if it's not, transfer it into one (another pan to wash!) and smooth it down.

Top with thin slices of tomato and more grated cheese.  Bake in a moderate oven for 35 minutes or so. 

Monday, 1 February 2016

Kidney bean, cauliflower and peanut curry

When you have a meeting at 7:30 and need a quick supper..... I had been going to make ratatouille with beans, but had neither courgettes nor aubergine and hadn't got round to going to Lidl to get some!  But the kidney beans had been soaking all afternoon, and needed to be used.  So it was a matter of finding what to cook with what I had - and the end result was surprisingly delicious!

1/2 cup red kidney beans (or you can use a tin of)
1 tsp coconut oil
2 tsp curry powder
Additional spices if liked - I used asafoetida and turmeric and some dried garlic powder
1 onion, chopped
1/2 small cauliflower, chopped
1 tin tomatoes
1/2 tinful water
2 tbs salted peanuts
1 tbs sultanas
1 tbs coconut milk powder
Vegetable "Stock pot" (optional)

1/2 cup long-grain rice

To serve: mango chutney

Soak the beans in water with a teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda for a few hours.  Then drain and rinse, and cook in fresh water, making sure they boil hard for at least ten minutes before you turn the heat down.  They'll probably take 30-45 minutes to cook, depending on how old they are.

Meanwhile, fry the spices in the coconut oil for a couple of minutes, then add the onions and stir well.  Add the rest of the ingredients (except the rice, but including the cooked beans), bring to the boil, and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes while you cook the rice.

Serve with the cooked rice and with some mango chutney (spicy or not, as liked) on the top.