Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Pheasant Pithiviers

Christmas dinner this year was what we no laughingly refer to as 'The Pasty' - my interpretation of Raymond Blanc's Pheasant Pithiviers.  I pretty much followed the recipe to the letter, and rather than reproduce it, I have linked to the video from his 'Kitchen Secrets' programme that explains how to make it, about 10.30 in. It took 3 days, but was very nice and looked splendid.  Essentially, it is confit pheasant legs mixed with pan-roasted pheasant breasts, chestnuts, onion, garlic, cranberries and mushrooms, then sandwiched between 2 sheets of all-butter puff pastry.  This is deep-glazed with salted egg yolk, baked, and served with a delicious Pheasant, Port and Madeira gravy made from the carcase.  Made a change from turkey!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Peanut Butter 'Fudge'

If you are looking for a last-minute Christmas gift to make, then this is a doddle.  It isn't realy fudge, but ends up as a fudgy treat.  You need to melt 8oz of unsalted butter and a cup (American measure, sorry) of smooth peanut butter in a pot or microwave.  Let the mix cook for a minute or two.  Stir in a teaspoon of vanilla essence and a pound of icing sugar.  It will go crumbly and stiff and difficult to beat.  This is normal!  Line a 20cm square tin with baking parchment and press the warm mixture evenly into the base.  Cover it with another sheet of parchment and this makes it easier to press down and 'squidge' - technical term there.  Allow to set and chill in the fridge for a good couple of hours or overnight.  Cut into small pieces - it is rich and sweet.  You can drizzle with melted chocolate too if liked.  Best eaten with a syringe of insulin by your side and a defibrillator.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Beetroot and Carrot Latkes

It is the Jewish festival of lights, Hannuka (or Hanukka, it seems both spellings are used)soon, and Latkes, or potato cakes, are a staple for most people observing the festival.  I am not Jewish, but I approve of nicking other cultures' food if it is good!  The principle of a latke is to combine grated starchy potato and grated onion with plenty of seasoning, and then fry spoonfuls of the mix, flattened, in oil until brown and crisp.  Delicious.  I saw a version made with grated carrot and beetroot, and made some last night, along with the pototo variety.  Really nice - just make sure they are well seasoned, they need quite a bit of salt and pepper.  I also added some beaten egg to bind them (about half an egg to 1 large carrot and beetroot) as they don't have the starch that the potato variety has.  Also, I used much less oil than traditional recipes, and finished them off on a baking sheet in the oven for 10 minutes.  This ensures they are cooked through, and they go a lovely colour.  Served with flakes of smoked mackerel, some watercress, and creme fraiche mixed with grated horseradish, this made a really nice, almost Scandinavian, supper.

Cranberry Tiffin

Another baking marathon this weekend, in aid of my friend's charity Sea2Sea (check it out, he's cycling from the West to East Coast of the States to raise money for US and UK veterans).  This is an easy one to do and tuck away.  If you can open packs and heat a pan of water, you can make this.  In a bowl over gently simmering water (don't let the bowl touch the bottom), melt 200g of milk chocolate, 100g dark chocolate, 100g butter, 100g of golden syrup until smooth and amalgamated.  Don't rush this stage, keep the heat low, and leave it be, with just a little gentle stirring towards the end.  You don't want it to go grainy - oh no!  Then, add 200g of rich tea biscuits or shortbread biscuits, broken up (either by hand or by bashing in a plastic bag with a rolling pin) and 170g of dried cranberrries.  You can also add around 60g of your choice of nut, such as pistachios, pecans or almonds.  Mix gently until everything is coated and then spread into a 20cm sq baking tin, lined with cling film.  Allow to set, then dredge with cocoa powder and cut into squares - this should yield 16 medium or 12 large pieces - or cut them into small bite-sized pieces and pack into cellophane bags for a yummy home-made Christmas pressie.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Mushroom Ragout

Nice simple veggie supper, this, served with bubble and squeak (a British take on the soft polenta that many recipes call for) and a poached egg.  Simply saute a finely chopped onion in a tablespoon of oil and 25g of butter until nice and soft,  Add 2 or 3 cloves of chopped garlic and soften for another minute.  Turn up the heat and add around 300g (for 2 people) of sliced mushrooms - I use Portobello and chestnut mushrooms - and some salt and pepper.  Add around a teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves and cook the mushrooms until they are lightly browned.  Now add 3 tablespoons of Marsala or Madeira (or sherry), a tablespoon of creme fraiche and a squeeze of lemon, and simmer for a further minute or so.  Stir fresh parsley and chives in right at the end and spoon over your choice of starch - bubble and squeak here, but creamy mash, pasta, polenta and rice would all work well.  Also nice on toast.  I love this soooooo much I could eat it every day.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Roast Chicken Boulangere

This is my favourite way to prepare chicken for Sunday lunch - chunks of potatoes and onions on the bottom of the roasting tin, with some chicken stock, and a rack over them with a good free-range chicken above.  As the chook roasts, the juices drop onto the veg below and the stock keeps the meat succulent.  Served with Chard Gratin and a puree of carrot and swede it makes for a heavenly meal of good things to eat.  Especially when followed by apple, pear and pecan crumble with custard.  Yum!  I like to mix some thyme, lemon zest, garlic and seasoning with some olive oil and slip it between the skin and the breast meat, and then shove the halved lemon inside.  Drop the 'spent' shells (such a lovely expression) into the potatoes and onions, as they impart a lovely gentle lemoniness as they cook.

Broccoli and Salmon Pasta Bake

Nursing two broken toes has meant a rather less ambitious couple of weeks in the kitchen, hence the quietness on here recently (although I did manage to make 8 Christmas puddings last weekend......).  So it is nice to be able to be a little more ambitious in the last day or two as they get better.  This adaptation of a BBC Good Food recipe went down well.  It is, essentially, raw fillets of boneless, skinless salmon laid on a baking dish, topped with penne and broccoli in a cheese sauce, then baked for 20 minutes until brown and bubbling and the fish cooked through.  The sauce also has sun-dried tomatoes, basil and capers added (and anchovies, if liked - I don't).  The original recipe uses mascarpone and, lovely though that is, it is too rich for a week-day supper.  So I just used  ordinary milk and made a bechamel with it instead.  You'll find the original recipe on the Good Food website - a nice way to use ubiquitous salmon, and filling and comforting as the nights get colder.  You could vary this endlessly - use leeks, spinach, Swiss chard or mushrooms instead of broccoli, and chicken or ham instead of salmon (though I'd probably lightly cook the chicken first).

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Best Chocolate Sauce

An extravagant claim, I know.  But if you like a chocolate sauce to be as dark, brooding and bitter as Heathcliffe, then this recipe from David Lebovitz is for you.  It is also low in fat - hurrah! (erm....we'll just gloss over the sugar, eh?).  This makes a large quantity, and it will keep for a week or so in the fridge to anoint chocolate pear pudding (as we did tonight), ice cream, pancakes, banana splits - or just spooned from the bowl......!  The recipe calls for corn syrup but I used the much more British ingredient, glorious golden syrup.  "Out of the strong came forth sweetness" and all that.  Anyway, do yourself a favour, make this, and dive in.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Potato, Leek and Swede Gratin

This dish came about as I stared at a leek and the remains of a swede sitting accusingly in the bottom of the fridge, but it was surprisingly good, and easy too.  Which is important this week, as I have broken two toes and can't stand around the kitchen easily.  So, I needed something that even my husband could do, and he's useless.  Sorry, dear heart, but it is true.  Anyway, if you can peel veg, and chop them (sort of) then you can make this.  For two: a large leek, well washed and sliced, a large potato (King Edward's or Maris Piper), peeled and thinly sliced and about a quarter of a swede, ditto.  Heat a quarter of a pint of milk, the same quantity of veg stock (Marigold is fine), a bay leaf, and 25g of butter in a pan.  Season well with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg, and add all the veg to the pan.  Cover, and simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes until the veg has softened.  Pour into a buttered shallow baking dish, removing the bay leaf, and sprinkle with about 50g of cheddar, parmesan, whatever you have in the house (I used a mix of the two).  Bake at 180C for 25 minutes until the liquid is absorbed, and the top is crusty brown and bubbling.  We baked some tomatoes alongside and ate with a watercress salad and a crusty loaf.  It would also be a nice accompaniment to roast chicken or turkey, I imagine.

Nigel Slater's Roasted Peppers with Pasta and Basil

We have been getting some wonderful long 'ramiro' peppers from Riverford this Autumn.  They are sweeter than traditional 'bell' peppers, and when I saw this recipe on Nigel's recent 'Simple Cooking' series, I knew I had to make it.  It is a variation on Piedmontese Peppers, where the halved peppers are stuffed with cherry tomatoes and garlic.  You make basil oil by blitzing a lot of fresh basil with olive oil, spoon over the peppers and tomatoes, and bake for 20 minutes or so, until the peppers are soft and juicy.  Serve with orechiette pasta, dressed in the remaining basil oil and the juices from the baking tin.  A delightful dish.  It would work with regular peppers, I'm sure, but do try to get the ramiro ones

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Pissaladiere - sort-of!

Helping with the nibbles for my friend's party was such fun this weekend.  She is a veggie, and a lover of onions (borderline obsessive - sorry, Anu, but it's true!), so I wanted to give her pissaladiere, but without the anchovies.  And without the traditional bread crust.  Oh, and without the black olives, as there was tapenade to eat too.  So not really pissaladiere, then but just an onion tart!  Anyway, the key is the onions - 3 big red ones and 2 Spanish onions, all sliced thinly, and gently, gently cooked for an hour in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a knob of butter, with 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, a dessertspoon of brown sugar, a good dessertspoon of fresh thyme leaves and salt and pepper.  It is important to cover the pan and take your time.  Let the onions collapse and slowly caramelise for the right texture and intensity of flavour.  Allow to cool, and then spread over a sheet of good butter puff pastry, leaving a small border.  Bake for 25 minutes or so until the edges have risen, the onions have darkened even more and all is crispy.  Will serve four people, or can be cut into smaller squares as a canape.

Spinach Spanikopitas

I helped with the nibbles for a friend's party this weekend, and made spinach spanikopitas, which are such fun.  Good to eat too!  I guess this is one of those recipes where you add whatever flavourings you want - some put Parmesan in, but I don't think that is very Greek.  Having said that, I use ricotta, which mixes better with the spinach than the more authentic feta would.  Anyway, thaw 250g of frozen spinach (I do this on several changes of kitchen paper, like a sort of spinach nappy, as it soaks up all the liquid as it thaws).  Mix with a tub of ricotta, lots of mint (I used about 3 tablespoons, chopped), and an egg.  Season really well with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg.  Taste it to get the seasoning right.  Now, cut sheets of good filo (preferably something like the french feuille de brique) into long strips, brush with butter and fold in half down the middle.  Plop a dessertspoon of the spinach mix at the top and fold over and over itself into a triangle, securing the end with a little butter to hold the final fold down.  Repeat.  I got about 24 out of this quantity of filling.  Lay on a baking sheet (or 2), and brush all over with more butter.  Bake at about 180C for 20 minutes until golden and glossy and crisp.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Apple and Calvados Crostata

Crostata or galette - whatever you want to call them, they are my favourite way of making a fruit pie or tart.  No fiddly lining of flan or pie tins, no baking blind, and an uneven finish is positively encouraged to ensure a fashionably 'rustic' look.  I've made others on here before - peach and blueberry, fig and raspberry - this one makes use of some fabulous Bramley cooking apples from Riverford.  I cooked 4 of them to a fluffy puree with sugar to taste, and chopped another one in for a bit of texture.  To this, I added a big handful of raisins that had been soaked in a good splosh (technical term, there) of Calvados, to emphasise the appliness.  When cool, this mixture was piled into the centre of a rough round of sweet shortcrust (200g flour, 100g butter, a tablespoon of sugar and an egg yolk).  A sprinkling of ground almonds on the bottom soaks up any extra liquid from the apples.  Fold the edges of the pastry up to form a rough border, brush with the left-over egg white and sprinkle with demerara sugar and more ground almonds.  Bake on a sheet of parchment at around 180C for about 40 minutes until golden and cooked through.  Lovely served warm with a little custard or cream, to which a further splosh of Calvados has been added.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Beetroot, Carrot and Orange Soup

I have blogged the Beetroot and Carrot soup already, and declared my love for it, but it was taken to new heights by the addition of the zest and juice of an orange.  Gosh, it was so wonderful, I could have eaten the entire pot!  Anyway, if you like these flavours, they all go together really well - it is simple to make: sweat a chopped onion, some chopped carrots and peeled fresh beetroot (a ration of 2:1 carrot/beetroot) in a tablespoon or so of olive oil until softening.  Grate in the zest of a large orange, followed by its juice.  Just cover with veg stock (Marilgold is fine) and simmer gently until the veg is tender.  Puree with a hand-blender and serve.  You can add cream if you like, but we didn't, enjoying the pure, fresh tastes of the veggies and orange. 

Friday, 21 October 2011

Sticky Pecan and Raisin Buns

Gosh, these are good!  Puff pastry rolled around brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins, sliced, then baked on a bed of butter, more brown sugar, and chopped pecans.   Another contribution to the charity cake sale today, and everyone enjoyed them heated very briefly in the microwave, when they emerged squidgy, fragrant and buttery (the buns, that is, not my colleagues, though they ended up that way after eating them).  I broke the low(er) fat regime by sharing one with a colleague.  Unfortunately, I also shared a chocolate danish, a slice of the Lemon and Apple Tart, a piece of Apple and Blueberry Cake and half a Raspberry and White Chocolate Brownie through the course of the day.  My maths isn't very good, but even I know that adds up to ......errr.....rather a lot of cake :-)

Anyway, make these buns, and they will make you smile all day.  based on a recipe by Ina Garten, they can be found on any number of blogs, but here is a link to the Food Network recipe from her show.  Follow the advice in the comments boxes - cut back the amount of butter and sugar a wee bit, and I reduced the cinnamon too - 3 teaspoons would be overwhelming.  Also, DO NOT let them sit for too long before turning out, as the molten butter and sugar quickly sets rock hard, and you will be chipping them out with a pick-axe.

Apple and Lemon Tart

I am doing another charity cake sale at work, and I thought I'd celebrate the British apple this time, so I had to make my Apple and Lemon tart.  I don't know why I haven't put it on here before - it is so delicious and simple and doesn't require the pastry to be blind-baked.  You line a 10" loose-bottomed flan case (metal) with some good sweet shortcrust - bought is fine, but I just knocked some up in the processor with 200g plain flour 100g butter and a tablespoon of icing sugar, bound with an egg yolk and water.  Now, peel and grate two large Cox's apples (British please!) and add to the juice and zest of two lemons, 2 eggs, 4 tablespoons caster sugar and 120ml of double cream.  Mix well, pour into the pie crust and bake at 170C for 40 minutes.  It is like a Tarte au Citron but with the freshness and texture of apple .  It is very nice indeed!  One tip: it looks a bit like a quiche, so a heavy drenching with icing sugar just before serving helps.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Ina Garten's Italian Wedding Soup

I have been watching Ina Garten's 'Back to Basics' on the UK Food Network (obsessively, my husband would assert) and saw her make this the other day.  It is a famous recipe in the blogosphere, and consists of little chicken meatballs in a good chicken broth with diced carrots, onions, spinach and parsley.   Tiny pasta is added, in my case risoni, and it is topped with grated Parmesan.  I made the meatballs by mixing a couple of skinned pork sausages (Ina recommends chicken sausages, but it is tricky to find good quality ones), with some minced cooked chicken, some breadcrumbs, garlic, grated Parmesan, an egg and lots of chopped parsley.  The little balls are baked in the oven, which keeps the fat down.  Meanwhile, cook the carrot and onion in the stock until tender - use good homemade stock, and we got through 2 pints of it for our dinner! - and then add the pasta about 10 minutes before serving.  In the final minute, add a handful of chopped spinach, the meatballs and lots of parsley and serve piping hot with Parmesan on top.  Delicious!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Balsamic-glazed Pork Steaks

Can I say right out that I am not a fan of Balsamic Vinegar?  Unless it is very good quality (and, therefore, very expensive) stuff from Modena, I tend to find it sharp and overwhelming.  This is a good way to use it, however - in small quantities, and tempered with the sweetness of honey.  It is dead simple - saute a couple of boneless pork steaks (organic, free-range, outdoor reared, and British, please) in a knob of butter and dash of olive oil.  Make sure the meat is well seasoned with salt and pepper, and don't fiddle with it.  Let it get a good crust on each side, around 5 minutes for the first side and 4 for the other.  Unless your pork is very thick, this will be plenty of time to cook through, yet still be moist and juicy.  After about 9 minutes is up, pour in 120ml of white wine, 2 tablespoons of Balsamic vinegar and a tablespoon of runny honey.  Stir and baste the meat with the sauce and let it reduce down to a syrupy glaze.  Serve straight away with the glaze poured over.  It went very nicely with simple boiled rice, some braised fennel and steamed broccoli.  Mash would be good too.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Apple Tart 'Facon Maman'

One of my least favourite jobs in cooking is the baking 'blind' of tart shells.  I never have enough patience and end up with mis-shapen, shrunken tarts (insert punchline here).  However, Raymond Blanc's method is dead simple, with the apples being baked in the raw shell, after being glazed with butter, sugar and Calvados.  About 10 minutes before the tart is done, a simple custard of an egg, cream and a little sugar is poured in.  What a lovely, fresh apple, flavour you get in the end, with a nicely crisp crust.  The BBC has a recipe - do try it.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Leeks, Cannellini Beans and Chard

Sometimes, the simplest-sounding things can surprise with new flavours and combinations.  This idea, from Riverford's first veggie book, sounded a bit ordinary, but I thought I'd use it to accompany a roasted leg of lamb.  It was delicious!  By all means, soak and cook your own beans, but I find that good-quality tinned ones are just as good - I use the brilliant Italian brand, Cirio, who steam their beans in the tin.  As a consequence, there is barely any liquid in the tin, so no wastage and a much better texture and taste.  It consists of a large, thinly-sliced leek and onion, sweated slowly in a knob of butter and dash of olive oil until soft and velvety.  Don't let it brown.  About 5 minutes before completely done, add a chopped clove of garlic and a teaspoon each of chopped fresh rosemary and thyme.  Add a tin of beans, drained and rinsed, and a handful of chopped chard or spinach leaves.  Add about 120ml of water or veggie stock, season, cover and simmer for a further 5 minutes until all is tender and amalgamated.  Really nice, and would make good soup with extra broth added.  As it was, it accompanied roast lamb and gravy perfectly, along with wedges of roasted Gem Squash.

Ina Garten's Apple and Cranberry Cake

Well folks, did you miss me?  I have been on holiday for 2 and a half weeks in lovely Devon and Cornwall, and then back at work for a week, where I was too tired to cook anything other than old favourites.  But, I'm back in the culinary saddle, enjoying the wonderful weather and the abundance of produce that turned up in our re-instated Riverford delivery - this week brought marrows, celery, bok choy, tomatoes, cabbages, onions, carrots, muscat grapes, leeks, little gem squashes, watercress........so much inspiration!  Whilst we were away, the digital TV revolution hit Oxfordshire, and I finally have freeview and a multitude of different channels.  However, despite all this wealth of telly, I seem to be stuck on channel 49, the Food Network, where - joy of joys - they broadcast Ina Garten, the 'Barefoot Contessa'.  I have long enjoyed her recipes through the blogs of American foodies, and to be able to see her and watch her cooking is wonderful.  So, expect more from her on these pages.  First up is this opportunity to use the glut of fabulous apples this Autumn, and also to clear out a bag of frozen cranberries before winter sets in.  This is dead simple, and almost the texture of a clafoutis with a little cakiness thrown in.  It is a heavily-blogged recipe, so I have linked to the recipe on Epicurious.  This would work with loads of other fruit combos - apple and blackberry, naturally, but pear and blueberry would be nice too.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Smoked Haddock and Sweetcorn Chowder

I love smoked haddock, and one of the best ways to eat it is in the form of the Scottish soup, Cullen Skink, from the village of Cullen on the Moray Firth, near Aberdeen.  It can be a bit creamy, though, and I wanted to incorporate more veg than just the usual onion or leek and potato.  So, I lightened it and turned it into a chowder tonight, with chunks of potato, red pepper and some tiny fresh corn niblets from a fresh ear of corn - all from Riverford, of course.  Just sweat a finely chopped onion or leek in a little butter, add the chopped veg and I like a chopped chilli too.  Just cover with an equal quantity of veg stock and milk, and simmer gently until the potato is tender.  Add chunks of good, undyed smoked haddock, simmer gently for an further 5 minutes until fish is cooked.  Sprinkle with chopped chives or parsley and ladle into bowls.  Serve with crusty bread - a hearty, warming complete meal for a dreich night, as Aberdonians would say.  And they should know, they have enough of them.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Pasta with Salmon and Courgette Sauce

I was ticked off today for not doing enough blogging over the last week, so, simple though this dish is, I thought I'd placate my fans and publish it!  I had some poached salmon left over from the weekend, so whilst a pan of pasta was cooking, I lightly sauteed a sliced courgette in a little butter with the zest of half a lemon, then added 40ml of Noilly Prat vermouth (or use white wine), the juice of the lemon, a heaped tablespoon of creme fraiche (use half-fat if watching your intake) and the flaked salmon.  GENTLY heat through (you don't want to split the cream or make the salmon go 'woolly'), and then drain the pasta, reserving a little cooking water, and toss the pasta in the sauce.  Thin with a little cooking water if needed.  Grind in lots of black pepper and some chopped parsley, and serve piping hot.  Italinas would never dream of adding Parmesan to a fish sauce, neither would I, but don't let me stop you, it's YOUR tea!

Black Pepper Chicken Curry

As the years go by, I am much more brutal about the worth of a cookbook and whether it merits precious space on my bookshelves.  If I have never cooked a successful recipe from a book, then it is OUT!  A new book I got last week has already passed the test - 'The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook' is a really good publication with what seems to me to be authentic North Indian home cooking.  The Black Pepper Chicken curry I cooked tonight was WONderful!  It was a dryish curry, which I partnered with a nice recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for Potato and Chard Curry, and simple boiled basmati.  I shan't reproduce the recipe here in full, as it is copyright, but to give an idea,skinless chicken pieces are marinated in lemon juice, ground ginger, turmeric and LOTS of ground black pepper.  A paste is made of onion, garlic and fresh ginger.  Cloves, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods are assembled, along with more ground black pepper.  The chicken is fried in a wok along with the paste and whole spices and some water to just cover.  The dish is simmered under chicken is tender and water has reduced to cover the chicken in the spicy paste.  Lots of chopped coriander is stirred through just before serving - delicious!  Get the book for some really simple, achievable North Indian food.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Lemon Drizzle Cake with Lemon Curd Mascarpone

Lemon Drizzle Cake is a always a favourite, but if you bake two rounds, drizzle, then sandwich with a deep layer of cool creamy mascarpone mixed with tangy, buttery lemon curd, you are on to a real winner.  I made this for a cake sale at work today, and I think I could have made another couple of cakes and it would still have sold.  Really, REALLY good, just make it, eat it and ignore the calories!  I found this recipe on Waitrose's site.  This recommends using home-made lemon curd, which would be perfection, but I didn't have the time.  Instead, I used Wilkinson's of Tiptree's bought stuff - it is very good, made with whole egg, butter and Sicilian lemons.  Not cheap.  But worth it.  Also, forgive the picture.  I was too knackered to take photos last night, and it disappeared this morning before I thought to ask someone to take a snap, so this pic from Waitrose will have to do.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Courgette Koftas with Tomato and Almond Sauce

A great recipe for those of you with courgette plants taking over your homes like a Stephen King horror novel.  Mildly spiced, or perkily hot, depending on how much chilli you use, this is a recipe from the superb 'Crank's Bible' by Nadine Abensur.  She deep-fries the koftas, but I never did that, even before the low-fat purge.  Instead, I made small koftas and browned them in shallow oil, draining well on kitchen paper, before reheating in the lovely, grainy sauce.  I have linked to the recipe as reproduced in Yumski's blog.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Roasted Sweetcorn Salsa

Undeterred by a colleague's fond memories of 'fishing' in Cardiff Bay in the 1970s (basically, standing on a pontoon in Barry Docks and scooping dead fish out as they floated past), I have opted for grilled Cornish Sardines for tea tonight.  I love them slashed in 2 or 3 places, rubbed with olive oil, sprinkled with lots of crunchy Malvern sea salt and coarsely-ground black pepper, and grilled until the skin is charred and blistered - heavenly!  AND I even like the bones.  Being oily, sardines need something sharp to take the edge off them, and this sweet and limey salsa does the trick.  You brush a couple of ears of corn with oil and grill under a hot element for about 10 minutes, turning from time to time.  Allow to cool a little and then, carefully hilding them upright with a cloth, cut downwards with a sharp knife to release the kernels.  Then simply mix with a peeled and skinned chopped tomato, a finely-chopped red onion, lots of chopped coriander and plenty of fresh lime.  If not watching the calories, add a tablespoon or two of oil as well, and season with salt, pepper and Tabasco.  Serve in generous spoonfuls with your grilled sardines (or mackerel, if you are lucky enought to be in the West Country).

Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Derby Daiquiri Cocktail

I haven't blogged many cocktails recently, not because we haven't had any, but they were mostly classics or ones I've mentioned before.  This was a nice variation on the usual Daiquiri, but slightly less alcoholic than usual, as you add fresh orange juice to the fresh lime juice and white rum, along with some Gomme syrup.  Dangerously quaffable........1 measures of freshly squeezed orange juice, 1 measure of freshly squeezed lime juice and 2 measures of Bacardi, with about 1/2 a measure of Gomme syrup or caster sugar to taste.  Shake over lots of crushed ice and pour into a chilled glass, with a sugar-crusted rim if liked (....there's a joke there, but I shall leave it to others).  Anyway, yummy, fruity and, as I say, dangerously drinkable.

Roast Pork Loin with Black Eyed Beans

This is a fabulous recipe from Jamie Oliver, and I knew I had to make it after my boss talked about it last weekend.  He came in with a magnificent French-trimmed loin of pork from Hedges, the organic butchers in Oxford's Covered Market and described the recipe to me.  It is simplicity itself - in a roasting tin, prepare a bed of lots of sliced red onion, red and green peppers, celery, bay leaves, garlic, chilli (some wonderful fresh ones from Riverford), chorizo, tinned black-eyed beans and tinned tomaotes, along a with a couple of glasses of wine.  Nestle the loin of pork on top, cover really well with strong foil, and roast slowly for 3 hours at around 160C.  Towards the end, remove the foil and turn up the heat to 220C to allow the skin to crisp and the liquid to reduce.  Being French-trimmed, you still have the bones attached, and this helps keep the shape and adds depth to the delicious sauce.  To serve, cut through the bones to give each person a tender, melthing chop and serve with generous spoonfuls of the beany vegetables and fresh green veg - runner beans and spinach in our case.  I don't think it needs potatoes, but don't let me stop you.  Marvellous recipe - thanks Jamie!  (Oh, and thanks Graham for alerting me to it)

Friday, 12 August 2011

Courgette Rice Bake

This is like a quiche without the pastry, the carbs coming instead from some cooked rice. Boil a couple of tablespoons of basmati (or use leftover rice) and drain when just cooked. Meanwhile, saute a small, finely chopped onion in a couple of teaspoons of olive oil until soft. Grate a large courgette and squeeze excess moisture out in kitchen paper. Beat three eggs and grate about 70g of good strong cheddar. Now, combine it all in a bowl with a good amount of seasoning and a shake of Tabasco to give it some poke. Add some finely-chopped fresh herbs too, like parsley, chervil, a little tarragon, basil - soft herbs, whatever you have. Tip into a baking tin, lined with baking parchment, or a reliable non-stick container. Bake at 170C for 25 minutes until golden brown and set. This is plenty for two, with a fresh tomato sauce or salad and some lovely runner beans. You can gussy this up with ham, chorizo, prawns, and vary the spices, favourings etc

Monday, 8 August 2011

Chicken and Re-fried Bean Tortilla Stack

I have posted a recipe already for a veggie option of this, but it is such a good use of leftovers, and delicious, to boot, so I hope you'll forgive me a little variation.  Home-made re-fried beans are so much better than the vile tasting (and smelling) gloop in tins.  Just drain and rinse a tin of kidney, pinto or black beans and 'smush' for want of a better expression in a bowl with a potato masher until crushed and almost a puree, with bits of whole bean here and there for texture.  Saute an onion and some garlic in a little oil, add a teaspoon of ground cumin, dried oregano and hot chilli powder and cook a while longer.  Now stir in the beans and three skinned, chopped tomatoes (I added some chopped pepper too), and cook and stir for 5 minutes or so until amalgamated and thick.  Season with salt to taste.  Spread on wheat tortillas and layer with shredded cooked chicken and grated cheese, as many layers as you like. The top layer should be sprinkled with water and some grated cheese and the whole thing baked in a medium oven for 20 minutes or so until piping hot and the top layer crisp and golden.  Cover with foil if this happens too quickly.  Cut in wedges and dig in.  Not an elegant dish but good family grub, and largely made from store-cupboard ingredients.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Sweetcorn Dhansak

This is a nice variation on a Riverford recipe, using some of their lovely fresh sweetcorn and tomatoes delivered yesterday.  You can strip the corn kernels off with a sharp knife, if you prefer, but I liked the tactile (aka messy) quality of the corn chunks that you have to pick up and gnaw on.  Anyway, nice fresh veggie curry and ever so healthy.  This quantity serves 4.

4 sweetcorn cobs, each cut into 3 pieces
200g red lentils
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 good teaspoon each of ground cumin, coriander, paprika and turmeric
8 green cardamom pods, bashed
2-3 finely chopped chillies, depending on how hot you like it
4 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
2 tablespoons mango or other fruity chutney
250ml veg stock or water
juice of 1 lemon
handful of coriander leaves, chopped

1.Boil a pan of water. Rinse and drain the lentils, add to the pan and boil for 3-4 minutes then simmer for approx 30-40 minutes until cooked. Drain.
2.Boil the sweetcorn for 10 minutes in salted water and drain. Heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic until soft.
3.Add the spices and chillies to the onions and cook for a further 3 minutes.
4.Add the corn and tomatoes and fry for 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice, stock or water, mango chutney and drained lentils, simmer for a further 5 minutes. If needed add a little more water or stock. Add the coriander leaves at the end and serve with rice or naan bread. 

I also like some frizzled shallots or onion on top of my lentil curries - just slice thinly and fry quickly in oil until deep golden brown and beginning to go crisp.  Drain well and sprinkle over the finished dish.  You CAN buy ready-crisped shallots in chinese groceries if you want to save time.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Roasted Cauliflower

When asked what I was doing for tea tonight by a colleague, I was looked at as if I'd finally gone loopy-la-la when I said I was roasting a cauliflower.  But seriously, if you haven't tried this way of cooking it, you will be surprised at how nice it is.  The basic recipe is simple: cut said cauli into evenly-sized florets - not too big - and lay in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Now, juice half a lemon, crush a clove of garlic and mix together with a tablespoon or so of olive oil.  Spoon over the cauli, making sure each piece has some of the lemony oil on.  Season with salt and pepper, and roast in a hot oven (200C) for 20 minutes or so until nice and brown.  Have ready a tablespoon or so of freshly grated parmesan, and sprinkle over the florets as they emerge from the oven.  Tuck in.  A great, light alternative for cauliflower cheese, which is too heavy for this time of year.  You can vary the seasoning by adding some of your favourite spices - garam masala, maybe, and also a little smoked paprika is good too.  Always use the lemon juice, though, as it really makes the dish.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Aubergine Parmigiana - the skinny version!

I first had Melanzane Parmigiana in a little cafe in a tiny side street in Ravello, high on the Amalfi coast, many years ago.  Perfect town, and perfect food, served just tepid - rich, melting, and unctuous with LOTS of olive oil.  Aubergine, as we all know, is like a sponge, and soaks up as much oil as you can throw at it, so making this 'skinny' is a challenge, especially when you throw in the Mozzarella and grated parmesan, so essential to the texture and flavour of the finished dish.  The answer lies in gently grilling the aubergine slices, which you lay out on a baking tray and spray with just a little oil from a pump-dispenser.  Keep the heat moderate, turn a couple of times, and after 15 minutes or so, you should end up with golden, tender slices of aubergine that will reach full melting softness after being bathed in a rich tomato and basil sauce, layered with sliced mozzarella (NOT the grated stuff please, and you really don't need the 'di Buffola' good stuff which is best eaten cool with a perfectly-ripe tom and fresh basil) and generous sprinklings of grated parmesan, and baked for half-an-hour.  Okay, so this will never be REALLY low fat, but it is much lower than traditional recipes, and tasted bloomin' gorgeous, just warm, with lots of spinach, green beans and sugarsnap peas on the side.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Lemon Courgette Pasta

Influenced by a recipe on the Tesco site, and refined by another online recipe, this is a little corker - filling yet light and summery.  For two - boil 200g spaghetti until al dente.  Whilst this is happening, slice two courgettes lengthwise into 3 or 4 slices and then cut each slice into long strips.  Saute in about 10g of butter until softening and lightly golden - about 7 or 8 minutes over a brisk heat, but don't allow to get too dark in colour.  Halfway through, add a crushed clove of garlic, and the zest and juice of a lemon.  Grate about 3 tablespoons of parmesan and chop some flat parsley.  Drain the pasta, holding back 3 or 4 tablespoons of cooking water.  Return the pasta to its pan with the reserved water, and stir in the cooked juicy courgettes and lemon juice, a handful of chopped parsley and 100g or so of ricotta along with 2 tablespoons of parmesan.  Stir together well, adding lots of black pepper and a little salt if it needs it.  Tip into a dish, sprinkle over the remaining parmesan, and brown under the grill until lovely and golden and bubbling.  Allow to settle for a few minutes and dig in!  Not the lowest-fat dish we've had of late, but still not too bad.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Thai Beef Salad

We had a couple of lovely rib eye steaks in the freezer, and had them as an increasingly rare red meat treat this evening.  I cut the thawed meat into chunky cubes, removing as much visible fat as possible.  Marinade them in a mixture of grated garlic and fresh ginger, a chopped red chilli, the juice of half a lime and a tablespoon of coconut cream, along with half-a-teaspoon each of ground cumin, turmeric and coriander (use the rest in a vegetable stir-fry).  Let it sit for at least an hour, overnight if possible.  Thread onto skewers - if using wooden ones, make sure you soak them well in warm water.  Grill, either on a chargrill or under a hot overhead grill - if the barbie is on, even better.  Brush with the marinade and turn until done to your liking.  Drizzle over sweet chilli sauce, chopped roasted peanuts and chopped coriander leaf, and serve the remaining half of lime on the side.  Serve with a leafy green salad with cucumber and we also had a big dish of stir-fried peppers, tomatoes and sugarsnap peas in a green curry coconut sauce.

Chocolate Pear Cake

I am tentatively allowing some home-baked goodies back into our diet, on the basis that a little slice of cake made with the best fresh ingredients will ALWAYS be better for you than a processed rice cake or anaemic low-fat commercial biscuit.  Since doing the original Nigel Challenge a couple of years ago, I have become a fan of his favourite 'pound cake' recipe, where essentially you have the same weight of butter, sugar and flour - organic, please, for the best flavour.  This cake uses 125g each of those ingredients, along with 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 30g of cocoa powder (get the best you can afford), a teaspoon of vanilla essence (again, the good stuff from Madagascar), 2 organic eggs and 100ml of plain yoghurt.  Have the butter nice and soft and then chuck it all into the KitchenAid and beat until it goes a pale milk chocolately colour and is soft and creamy.  You could just sit on the floor of the kitchen, in the corner, and eat it out of the bowl now.  Or resist, and spoon it into a parchment-lined 20cm-square baking tin.  Peel and chop 2 ripe pears and press the chunks into the top of the sponge.  Bake at 170C for about 45 minutes, during which time the pear will sink beguilingly into the chocolate batter.  This will serve 8-10 people, so is really not as bad as you'd think, with about 15g of fat per serve.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Cod Baked in Fresh Tomato and Bay Sauce

The English tomato season is starting to get into its swing, and I love the acidic freshness a good, ripe English tom brings to proceedings.  This simple dish showcases them, and some wonderful fresh cod fillets (sustainably fished, I might add!).  Take time to sweat a lovely fresh, yellow onion in a tablespoon of olive oil - we can afford the calories for the flavour it brings.  When it is soft, put in 4 or 5 big, ripe, peeled fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped, and a couple of fresh bay leaves.  You can add garlic too, if liked, but today I wanted this to be all pure flavours.  Simmer for 20 minutes or so until well reduced and jammy (see the picture).  Season carefully with salt and pepper.  Now, place thick loin fillets of cod (you can use other fish too) on top and cover with a lid or foil.  Simmer gently until the cod is pearly white and just cooked.  Serve with parslied new potatoes and green beans or sugar snap peas.  Apart from the tablespoon of oil, there is no fat in this dish so - healthy, healthy, healthy!  You can jazz the sauce up to ring the changes - add olives and capers, or basil, or sliced peppers, mushrooms - you get the picture.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Turkey Bolognese

I am sure no self-respecting Italian would consider this to be an authentic ragu Bolognese, which is usually made with a blend of pork and beef mince, chicken livers, lots of oil, milk (for a tender creamy sauce), red wine and hours of cooking.  Wonderful and rich, but not low fat if made in the tradiotional way.  But for a tasty, low-fat sauce for pasta, turkey makes a very acceptable substitute, especially if made with lots of garlic, red and green peppers, fresh oregano and basil - the turkey is like blotting paper, mopping up all the flavours.  The other benefit is that it is ready in an hour, and the meat is inherently tender - not always the case with minced beef.  Anyway, you all know how to make a Bolognese, you don't need me to tell you, but try it with turkey (good quality, organic British mince, please) and make sure it is well-reduced to avoid wateriness.  Yum!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Chicken and Basil Sizzle

A perfect little stir-fry from Judith Wills' brilliant book 'Top 200 Low Fat Dishes'.  Couldn't be simpler.  In a dessertspoon of sunflower or groundnut oil, stir-fry some chopped spring onion, chopped red chilli, garlic and ginger (however much or little you want), and then add two thinly-sliced chicken breasts and a sliced red pepper.  Stir and toss around the pan for a couple of minutes until chicken just cooked.  Now add about 120ml of veg or chicken stock, a splash of fish sauce, the juice of half a lime and a big handful of basil and chopped coriander leaf.  Stir for just a few seconds more and then spoon onto rice or noodles and tuck in.  Really low-fat, but really tasty.  Keep your frying pan or wok on the highest heat possible - the clue is in the word 'sizzle' - don't be afraid of  the heat here, it needs to be hot and fast.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Cottage Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Spread

Delicious little spread or dip, this and so simple.  Take half a tub of plain low-fat cottage cheese, plenty of black pepper (the cheese is usually plenty salty, so don't add any more) a squeeze of lemon juice, a small roasted, skinned red pepper (some from a jar is fine but blot as much oil off as possible) and a tablespoon or so of basil leaves.  Blend in a processor or mini chopper - try to leave some chunkiness for texture.  Now, taste and adjust the seasoning with some Tabasco sauce to spike it up, if liked, and serve as a sandwich spread with lettuce and cucumber or as a dip with crispbreads, tortilla chips, crudites, etc.  Yum!

Lemon Blueberry Cake

Baking has moved to the back burner, so to speak, as a result of our lower fat regime.  But a little of what you fancy does you good, and this cake only uses 90g of unsalted butter and 80g of sugar, and it will serve 8-10.  So only around 10g fat and 200 cals per slice.  Blueberries are bang in season, and seem to be particularly plump and juicy this year, in common with British cherries.  This is an easy variation on a lemon drizzle cake, though you can leave the drizzle off to cut the sugar content even further.  Best made in a good electric mixer - I love my Kitchen Aid!  In said mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light, pale and fluffy.  Beat together 125ml of skimmed milk, two large eggs and a half teaspoon of good vanilla essence.  Weigh out 160g of plain flour and mix with 2 level teaspoons of baking powder.  Grate the zest of a large unwaxed lemon into the flour.  Now put half the flour and half the milk/egg mix in with the butter and beat briefly until combined.  Add the remaining flour and egg mix and beat again briefly until just combined - try not to overbeat it but keep it light and fluffy.  Gently stir in 100g or so of blueberries ( a small punnet) and spoon into a greased and lined 2lb loaf tin.  Smooth the top and bake at 170C for about 45 to 50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.  Leave in the tin for 5 minutes then cool on a wire rack.  If you want the drizzle, mix the juice of the lemon with a heaped tablespoon of caster sugar.  When the cake comes out of the tin, spike the top with the skewer and spoon over the gritty lemony sugar.  Allow the cake to cool in the tin, when the sugar will form a delicious sharp crust.  Allegedly, this keeps for a couple of days......we shall see!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Pork Stir Fry

Sorry for the media blackout (although Facebook followers were spammed with about 40 old recipes - sorry about that chaps, it weren't me, honest!).  A busy week and the weekend away at a friend's wedding were enjoyable, but we fell pretty badly off the low-fat wagon.  Still, you can't stay in a lovely B&B with full English breakfast, and then attend a brilliant wedding with canapes, a delicious sit down dinner, as much booze as you could drink, late-evening cheese and crusty bread and home-made truffles AND a chocolate wedding cake and whinge about being on a low-fat regime.  So, sod it - relax and have fun, and hop back on the wagon today.  A stir-fry with masses of veg- sugarsnap peas, broccoli, carrots, celery, onions, garlic and ginger - hits the spot, along with strips of pork fillet marinated in Five Spice powder.  A rich sauce of soy sauce, Chinese rice wine, more garlic and ginger and thickened with cornflour brought it all together nicely.  Savoury, filling, healthy, crisp, and low-fat.  Mind you, still fantasising about that chocolate cake....and the truffles.......and the cheese.......mmmmmmmnn, cheese.....

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Aubergine and Beef Stacks with Lemon Yoghurt Dressing

I love a well-made moussaka, but it is NOT low-fat!  All that olive oil and (usually) fatty lamb, which of course gives flavour but pushes the fat content sky high.  Add to that, the rich eggy, yoghurty, cheesy custard topping, and it is a no-go zone.  So, this revamped and deconstructed version from the marvellous Australian Women's Weekly 21-Day Wonder Diet is a God-send.  It consists of a base of slices of sliced, baked aubergine, courgette and red pepper (very lightly spritzed with olive-oil spray and laid on baking parchment, then baked for around 20 minutes).  Meanwhile, dry-fry 250g of lean (5% fat) organic beef in a non-stick pan until browned, breaking up with a wooden spoon.  Add a very finely chopped onion and clove of garlic, a quarter teaspoon of ground cinnamon, a teaspoon of tomato puree, two peeled, chopped tomatoes, and 200mls of beef stock.  Cover and simmer gently until the beef is tender and the liquid has reduced.  You can add other veg too - I added some sweetcorn and chopped, roasted pepper.  Right at the end, add some chopped fresh basil.  Now, layer the roasted veg on a warm plate, top with the mince and a spoonful or two of 0% Greek youghuret mixed with lemon juice and sumac (if you have any), and add some salad leaves or watercress on the side.  We added a few baby new potatoes for carbs.  Delicious - all the flavours of moussaka, and virtually none of the fat.  Without the potatoes, this comes in at around 320 cals per portion, which can't be bad!  Just make sure you are mean with the oil when roasting the veg.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Pasta Primavera

Normally, recipes for this dish are very heavy on the butter and/or cream, but it is possible to lighten it up with much less fat, through using chicken or veg stock.  Go with whatever veg you have in that is good and seasonal - I went for carrot, broad beans, courgettes, asparagus tips and some peas, with baby spinach folded in at the end.  This is a good way to get your five-a-day!.. Sweat a finely diced onion in 10g of butter and a teaspoon of olive oil.  Keep the heat gentle and a lid on.  Prepare all the other veg, addding first the carrot, then the asparagus and then the courgettes and peas, allowing each to sweat a little in the covered pan to soften before adding th next.  Add about 150ml of stock, cover, and simmer gently whilst you boil the pasta.  Drain pasta, add baby spinach and mix, and sprinkle with some parmesan.  So delicate and summery. 

Thai Minced Turkey

This has to be one of my favourite low fat dishes that I've cooked recently.  Turkey breast mince is very low in fat, but can be a bit bland - so, get good organic stuff and mix it with lots of strong flavours - Italian and Thai work very well.  In this dish, the turkey is stir-fried with a sliced red onion in a little oil (only about a teaspoon) and then you add chopped garlic, chilli and ginger, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, coriander (all frozen from Waitrose, brilliant time-saver) and some chicken stock.  Simmer for about 15 minutes until the turkey is tender.  Slake two teaspoons of soy sauce with two tablespoons of dark soy sauce, and stir into the pot.  Allow to bubble for a minute, then stir in a big handful of basil leaves.  Serve with Jasmine rice or rice noodles.  Just yummy.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Rigatoni with Beef Tagliata, Roast Tomatoes, Beans and Light Pesto

I've always enjoyed the taste of a good steak, but been somewhat put off by a large lump of meat, bleeding onto my plate.  The Italians, as with so much in life, have it right, by serving the steak tagliata, or in slices - this makes it easier to eat, and makes the meat stretch further.  This was a delicious invention, if I say so myself, and I am sorry I didn't take a pic of the finished dish.  Advance prep is best - blanch and skin some broad beans and blanch some fresh sliced green beans, and meanwhile, quarter three ripe tomatoes, spritz with a little olive oil, and roast for 20 minutes.  All the veg turned up in the Riverford box today, and were soooo fresh!  Make some pesto, either the traditional way, or using my amazing, patented low-fat version.  In a mini chopper, blitz 25g basil leaves, a small clove of garlic, a heaped tablespoon of 0% Greek Yoghurt or low-fat cottage cheese, and about 15g of grated fresh parmesan.  Cook your pasta (150g for 2) and chargrill your steak, letting it rest for a minute or two while the pasta finishes. 1x150g steak was plenty for us to share.  Just before serving, slice the meat across the grain.  When done, drain the pasta, return to the hot pot, and throw all the ingredients in, giving it all a good stir, and serve on hot plates with a little extra Parmesan grated over.  No idea of the calories really - guessing around 550 a portion?  But really low fat, and totally delicious.  I will make it again, and take pictures, I promise!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Pasta with Prawns, Broccoli and Lemon Sauce

A neat little recipe, this, from the latest edition of the BBC Good Food magazine.  We don't eat a lot of prawns, and I had a small bag of cooked, peeled prawns lurking in the freezer, needing to be used.  But this was certainly a very nice way to eat them and super-quick too.  For 2 people, and at around 400 calories per portion, you need: 180g pasta of your choice, around 75g of cooked, peeled prawns (thawed), a small head of broccoli, cut into little florets, the zest and juice of half a lemon, a tablespoonful each of single cream and 0% fat Greek yoghurt, 10g of butter, and seasoning.  Whilst the pasta cooks, gather all your ingredients around you.  About 2 minutes before the pasta is done, throw in the broccoli and allow to cook for 2 minutes until still bright green and with a little crunch left.  Drain the pasta and broccoli, but not too well, so that a few tablespoons of cooking water remain.  Return to the hot pot, and quickly, over a low heat, add all the ingredients - try not to let it boil so the yoghurt and cream don't split, but let it get good and hot to heat the prawns.  Add some salt and black pepper to taste - I think it needs lots of pepper - and serve presto pronto, as our Delia says, on hot plates.  We'll have this again!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Char Siu Pork Fillet

I have no idea how authentic this is, but I like it!  It doesn't have the slightly suspicious red tinge to it that you sometimes get, which I suspect is produced by some sort of colouring.  You simply marinade a good-size pork fillet - organic and British, please - in 3 tablespoons of Hoisin sauce, a tablespoon of honey, a tablespoon of soy sauce (I use reduced sodium), 3 cloves of grated garlic, an inch of fresh ginger, peeled and grated, and a teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice powder.  Marinade it overnight for a real injection of flavour.  Now, roast in a hot oven (on a foil-lined tray, or you'll be scrubbing for weeks) for about 20-25 minutes until just cooked and still juicy, and a deep, caramel, burnished colour.  Serve sliced, with stir fried veg and noodles or rice, or even just stuffed hot into a bread roll.  I imagine this would do well on a barbecue too.  Oh, and low fat, of course!

Borrowdale Brack

My late Mum, bless her, was NOT a domestic goddess.  Mind you, with 7 children, a full-time job, and extra work taken in to do in the evenings, you can hardly blame her!  One thing she DID make, though (other than a fantastic 6-tier cream and strawberry sponge for birthdays) was Barm Brack, a moist, fruit-filled teabread from an old Irish recipe, and it was totally delicious.  I have discovered lots of variations on this over the years, all based around large quantities of dried fruit steeped in tea then made into a cake.  These sorts of breads crop up in a lot of Northern British and Irish recipe books, and this particular one comes from the Lake District, where they know a thing or two about baking.  This fits in with our current low-fat regimen, in that there is no fat (other than an egg yolk), and no dairy too, so great if you have to avoid those things. Not low calorie, mind, with all that dried fruit, but a great energy-boost and a healthy treat.  Just don't slather it with butter, which we did with Mum's Brack :o(

Being an old Lakeland recipe, there is none of this metric nonsense:
12oz mixed dried fruit of your choice - I used sultanas, currants, raisins and chopped mixed peel
12floz hot strong tea - whatever rocks your boat, but I used proper builders' tea
10oz self-raising flour
4oz soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
1 large egg, beaten
The night before (or early in the morning) soak the fruits in the hot tea.  They will soak most of it up and go lovely and plump.  Next day or that afterfnoon, simply stir everything else in, tip into a 2lb lightly-greased loaf tin (the two long ends lined with baking parchment) and bake at 150C fan or equivalent for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.  This keeps very well, wrapped in greaseproof and foil, and it will keep getting moister as the week progresses.  If not on a low-fat regime, give yourself a treat and serve in thick slices spread with good butter with a cup of tea. 

You can vary this basic recipe - add chopped candied ginger and dried ginger instead of the mixed spice with maybe a ginger tisane to soak the fruit.  All cinnamon and some grated apple to replace the mixed peel.  Use Earl Grey and dried figs with some crushed cardamom seeds.  Or a fruit tea and dried cranberries.  Darjeeling and glace cherries to replace some of the fruit.  Experiment!