Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Crispy Salmon and Chicken Tray-bake

A few bits to be used up in the fridge, a couple of salmon fillets and some little chicken fillets. Oh, what to cook!?

A variation on Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals Crispy Salmon. Himself is on a bit of a health kick at the moment, so when I asked if he would like potatoes or rice with it, he replied 'no carbs!'. Fair enough says I, thinking of my own muffin-top... so while we were waiting we scoffed half a packet of Kettle's jalapeno crisps. Oops. But there's no wine in the house so it's all balancing out...

Anyway. I put some olive oil in a baking tray. Seasoned the salmon with salt and pepper and lots of lemon zest. Lay the salmon (and the chicken to use up) skin side up in the tray, then surround it with chopped up peppers, spring onions and chillies. Bake for about 20 minutes, et viola! The skin was the crispy, but obviously we didn't eat that! Hence the need for the crisps, I guess.

Crispy Salmon

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Lazy Chicken Fajitas

After a heavy night last night, I needed something light and spicy but there wasn't much in the fridge...
So I just thought I'd do chicken fajita wraps, just without the salsa, guacamole or sour cream.

Cut up chicken fillets - I used a scissors as always, stick them in the wok, and after they've gone white all round add in a teaspoon each of cumin, coriander, paprika, and dried oregano. Then throw in chopped onions and peppers and fresh chilli, and gently fry for about 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked, then add in a squeeze of lemon juice.

And that's it! Put the chicken in some tortilla wraps and eat 'em! Yes they would have been better with the salsa, guacamole and sour cream, but it still worked well. And quick enough for when you can't be bothered.

Chicken Fajitas without any mess...

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Sausages and Mash - with new pots!

No, I don't mean new potatoes (I can't get the hang of that shorthand, 'new pots', just say spuds if you want to shorten it!). I mean new POTS! A new saucepan to replace the one I burnt the kids' rice in a few weeks back... but it came in a set with a frying pan, everyday pan (what's one of those, you say? so did I... it's the flat little one with two handles) and another large saucepan. Greenpan brand. Aren't they beautiful. (Yes I know, easily pleased...)

My new Greenpan pots and pans
So the first meal I made with them was simple ole Sausage and Mash. I wasn't really in the mood for cooking (WHAT!?) as I was feeling a bit crap with cold/flu/aches/pains, but we still gotta eat, so I just used some Taste the Difference chilli pork sausages - fried GENTLY, then added a red onion, a crushed garlic and a little later some asparagus, to the frying pan. No, not the new one, don't be silly! Not going to mess that one up...
Then just boiled some Maris Pipers in the new big saucepan - oh ok, got to break them in sometime. Mashed that up with a knob of butter, splash of milk, easy peasy. (Although I shouldn't use metal in the new pans...)  Oh and Himself needed extra Bisto graaaaavy...

Sausage and Mash. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Chicken Biryani

Rachel Allen's Easy Meals again! I love this woman. Only chicken breasts in the fridge, so it was pretty much a store/spice cupboard job tonight. Extracted the seeds from the cardamom pods and gave them a bit of a bash in the pestle and mortar. Then soaked the rice in some boiled water for a bit (this was new for me!). Then melt some butter in the wok, fry off onion, garlic, ginger and a green pepper. To this, add some spices, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and the crushed cardamom seeds. Cook this off for about 10 mins (Mmmmmm that smell!). Then added the chopped up chicken and cook it for a few minutes.
Then drain the rice and add it to the wok, with some raisins (I didn't have any though). Add some chicken stock and stir well, and season. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the rice is cooked.

At this point I had a taste and decided to add a few chillies! I took some rice and chicken out first, so the kids can sample tomorrow (yeah right, that'll go down well!).

Stir in some fresh coriander (and some flaked almonds if you have them).
Chicken Biryani

Is it a risotto? says Himself...

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Chorizo and Potato Gratin

The fridge was looking decidedly bare tonight, eggs and chorizo was all that was there. You would think that would lead to a nice tortilla (plenty of spuds in, phew!), but no... had a flick through Rachel Allen's Easy Meals and found a bacon and potato gratin which I've done before for the in-laws, which went down so well, she asked me for the recipe! Since I had no bacon, I substituted chorizo, and it was delish.

Simple it is. Fry off the chorizo (you can use bacon here if you wish!), add an onion and some garlic. Layer the peeled sliced potatoes on the bottom of your dish, spread the chorizo and onion mix over this, then another layer of spuds, season, pour over some cream and some grated cheese. Oven at gas mark 6 for about 45 minutes, covered in foil, then remove the foil and give it another half hour to crisp up.

 I will definitely do this again. Scrummy.
gratin, chorizo
Chorizo and Potato Gratin

Friday, 11 May 2012

Nigella's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Yesterday I made a chocolate cake for a colleague's birthday. It's not usual to do this, but she is a) new, b) loves birthdays, c) brought me a gift back from her holiday in Tuscany, so I thought I'd make her a cake - d) she loves cake!
I followed Nigella's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake to the letter and this is my version:

chocolate cake
Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake from Nigella
Her reaction?

She is quite enthusiastic about life, and it could be catching. Here's hoping!

I will add this to my Birthday cakes, which can all be seen on my Pinterest page.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Simple Grilled Rainbow Trout

Tonight, Himself and myself are both feeling a bit under the weather (the really crap weather we're having - and we're feeling Under it), so just wanted something quick and simple for dinner. I almost couldn't be bothered, and after trawling through several cookbooks, disregarding anything that would take too much effort, Himself suggested just simple rainbow trout. Luckily he'd been to Sainsbury's today, so we had some! He took care of the potatoes, and I just threw the trout in a tray, with a squeeze of lemon, a couple of wedges of lemon, two chopped chillies, a quartered red onion and a dash of olive oil. Shoved it under the grill for about 15 minutes. Meantime slowly pan-fried some asparagus and red pepper. It was ready in time for The Apprentice, and it was lovely. Just the job.
And now I feel a little better, I think it was the chilli that did it!
Or the red wine...

Grilled Rainbow Trout with chilli

Friday, 4 May 2012

Chicken Korma - but not as you know it...

I thought it'd be nice to introduce the kids to curry. They claim to 'hate it'. Actually Himself thought it'd be a good idea, so he bought a jar of Sharwoods Korma sauce. Well, you know me, I can do it better myself...
But I gave it a go with the jar of stuff. At least they tried it, but had to scrape the sauce off the chicken! At least now the seed of curry addiction is planted. Next time something more tomato-based perhaps.

For us, I was thinking of something spicy,but I couldn't face the jarred stuff. So I stir-fried onions, garlic, ginger, chilli and some courgettes, then added some chicken. I then put in a couple of teaspoons of tandoori masala powder. Then the rest of the Korma. I added more cream to make it, well, creamier and then at the end some fresh coriander. You know what, it wasn't so bad.
Chicken Korma - spiced up

And I got another empty jar for my spice cupboard!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Spice Cupboard

Everyone should have a spice cupboard. This is mine:

 It's like a store cupboard, only with spices. Like a spice rack, only much bigger. You don't need those piddley little jars with no flavour (please ignore that paprika one in the picture - emergency situation), you need a good big jar. Save all your empty jam jars (or pasta sauce jars, or coffee jars). Wash the label off (or not, it's up to you). Make sure they are dry, then fill up with spices from your local Indian/Turkish/Greek grocery store. If you buy them in packets (hence the need for jars, instead of clothes pegs), then they are much cheaper that those little piddley ones I've already mentioned. I use the TRS brand - cheap enough and good quality - and conveniently stocked in my local shop. Do label them though, otherwise you might accidentally chuck four teaspoons of chilli powder into something for the kids! Keep the jars tightly shut and they last about a year. And you always have something to spice up your dinner (even if it's just a store cupboard jobby). Your home-made curries with be more authentic than ever.

Essential Spice Cupboard Fillers:
Hot Madras Curry Powder
Hot Chilli Powder
Garam Masala
Cumin seeds (so you can roast them and grind them)
Ground Cumin (for when you are too lazy to grind the seeds)
Coriander Seeds (see cumin seeds)
Ground Coriander (see ground cumin)
Cayenne Pepper
Hot Smoked Paprika (the Spanish version)
Ground Almonds
Cinnamon Sticks
Ground Cinnamon
Cardamon Pods
Black Peppercorns
Dried Oregano
Mixed Herbs
Dried Thyme
Star Anise
Mustard Seeds
Fennel Seeds
Tandoori Masala
Curry Leaves

And if you are lucky enough to have some growing space on your window sill, get some fresh herbs:

And outside:
Bay tree

You'll never need salt and pepper again! (Though I would keep some of those too).