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.