Sunday, 24 June 2012

Strawberry and Chocolate Cheesecake

Last night we had lovely friends around for dinner. There were five kids in the house...

So by way of entertainment I got them to decorate these Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes

Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes

Then I cooked a Jamie Oliver recipe from 30 Minute Meals. I made Cypriot-stuffed chicken, which was basically some herbs, sundried tomatoes, garlic and feta, with lemon zest all chopped up and stuffed inside a chicken breast and gently fried... served with some boiled rosemary potatoes and a big Greek salad.
At this point we had drunk quite a lot of Grenache, so I completely forgot to take any photos! Despite talking A LOT about this blog... whoops!

For Dessert I made Jen's Place Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake. This was really really delicious! Second helpings for some! 

Strawberry Chocolate Cheesecake...

... Decorated by the kids

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Spicy Grilled Chicken Kebabs

Himself made dinner tonight. He marinaded some chicken in Bims Kitchen African Herb and Spice Rub, mixed with oil and chilli, squirted with fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper. Then skewered it along with some peppers, quartered onions, and courgettes.
Grilled for 15 minutes, turning occasionally, on a high heat, but on the lowest shelf. 

Serve with mango chutney and chilli mint jelly.

Spicy Chicken Kebabs

Quick, simple, and carb-free! Delicious!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Lemon Cheesecake

Third Course:

Lemon Cheesecake

I wanted something light and tangy to finish, I found this recipe on Nigella's website.

Just follow it. It's delicious! I grated half a flake on the top - it was scrummy!

Lemon Cheesecake

Pad Thai and Thai-spiced Coriander Chicken

Second Course:

Thai-spiced Coriander Chicken with Pad Thai Noodles

I took this recipe from a little book called Cookshelf Thai by Christine France. I've used it many many times but have neglected it for a while. This recipe required some marinading, which I did the night before.

I used chicken thighs instead of breasts, but I think that's a fair substitution.
Slash the chicken and lay in a dish. 
Put some garlic, chilli, ginger, chopped coriander, lime rind, lime juice, soy sauce, caster sugar and coconut milk in a blitzer and make a smooth puree. Spread this over the chicken, coating it evenly and marinade for at least an hour - overnight is best.

When you're ready to cook, lift the chicken out of the marinade, drain off the excess and place in a grill pan. Grill under a medium heat for aobut 15 minutes until cooked through.
Meanwhile, place the remaining marinade in a wok and heat it through, lower the heat and add the chicken in, let it simmer as long as you need to wait for the noodles... sprinkle with fresh coriander to serve.

Thai-spiced Coriander Chicken

Pad Thai Noodles

This recipe is from the same book and is quick and simple and very tasty. You can leave out the bacon/pork and prawns if you have veggie friends, you still get the overall flavour.

Cook the noodles according to the instructions and leave in the water so they don't dry out while you make the sauce.

Quickly fry some garlic in a pan. Add some chopped bacon (or pork) and fry for a few minutes. Then stir in some cooked prawns, add a tablespoon of sugar, about 3 teaspoons of fish sauce, a squirt of ketchup, and the juice of  a lime. Beat two eggs and add these in until lightly set. Then add the cooked noodles, stir in some beansprouts and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. 

Serve scattered with some chopped spring onion, chilli flakes and fresh coriander.

Pad Thai noodles

Put them together:


Thai-spiced Coriander Chicken with Pad Thai noodles

Thai Salmon Fishcakes

First course: Thai Salmon Fishcakes

This recipe was taken from a cutting from a newspaper years and years ago. I used to cook it regularly, but one of my guests last night (she was my sous chef, I love when I have someone to chop for me!) has never had it cooked by me and I've known her probably seven years, so that's how long since I've cooked it! These aren't those little rubbery fishcakes you get in a thai restaurant, they are zingy, light and delicious.


oil for frying
5 spring onions, finely sliced
2.5 cm fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
zest and juice 1 lime
2 x 170 g tin crab meat, drained (I used salmon though)
80 g mashed potato
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
plain flour
1 egg, beaten
dry white breadcrumbs


Heat the oil in a pan, add the spring onions and cook for 1-2 minutes until beginning to soften.

Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a further one minute. Add the lime juice to the pan and remove from the heat.

Put the crab meat and potato in a bowl, add the onion mixture, lime zest and coriander, and season with salt and pepper (you can add a dash of Tobasco here if you fancy a bit more heat). Flour your hands and shape into four large or eight small cakes.

Dust the crab cakes with flour, then roll in the beaten eggs and coat with the breadcrumbs. If you have enough you can roll in the egg and breadcrumbs a second time.

Heat a little more oil in the pan and fry the cakes for about two minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Frying the fishcakes
Serve on a bed of rocket and drizzle with sweet chilli sauce.

Thai Salmon Fishcakes

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Pandang Chicken

I got a new addition to my Spice Cupboard - Lemon Grass. Now, I'm not too sure if it is 'lemongrass' as in the 10 cm shoot required for thai curries, or 'lemon grass' as in grass with a lemon flavour. It's dried and to be fair, it does look just like grass...

Anyway I thought I'd try it out so I scoured my cookbooks for something with chicken and lemongrass. I found this really simple recipe in a little step-by-step Indonesian cookbook I acquired in Bali, or at least, after returning from Bali, where we went on a cooking day trip, about 10 years ago - and that was probably the last time I cooked Indonesian food...

Pandang Chicken

1 kg Chicken fillets, cut into 3 cm cubes
juice of 1 lime
tin of chopped tomatoes
3 red chillies
2 cm ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 10 cm stalk lemongrass (I used my dried grass stuff!)
half a block of creamed coconut

Combine the chicken and lime juice and marinade for about an hour (or in my case, about 10 minutes)

Put the tomatoes, chilli, garlic, ginger and turmeric in a blender and whizz to a nice smooth consistency.
Pour this in a wok and add the chicken and lime juice. Chuck in the lemongrass. If you have proper lemongrass, give it a bash first. If not, just carry on. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for about half an hour.
Then add the creamed coconut (and some water, to get the consistency you prefer) and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes.

During this last bit I re-fried some cooked rice, with an egg and some soy sauce.

Chicken Pandang...

... with egg-fried rice.

It was quite nice! I think it could have been less thick, maybe, a bit more thai curry-ish. But still really nice and easy and quick. I did have to pick out the bits of lemon grass though. That's lemon grass, as opposed to lemongrass.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

My very own Indian mint sauce

My best friend came round for dinner. She loves a curry as much as me. 
I made mint sauce for pappadoms. It's something I've tried many times but never seemed to get it right, as in, restaurant-style. This time though... somehow, I think I've cracked it!

Half a red onion, chopped
A handful of fresh mint
A handful of fresh coriander
1 red chilli
1 tablespoon of mint jelly
200 ml natural yoghurt

Whizz it up! This is the important bit I think to get the right texture. If you leave it to set again (like the next day), it loses the consistency that you get in a restaurant.

It got me ten out of ten from Himself. That's a first.

Mint Sauce and home-cooked pappadoms

The  pappadoms were from the local Asian grocery store and you have to cook them yourself - what!? Not ready made from Sainsburys? No... well one of the options was to grill them so I did, it took about 10 seconds. 11 seconds and they turned orange and tasted burnt. So not ideal - perhaps they need to be deep-fried really. 

The rest of dinner was Chicken Tikka Masala which I have made before. Served with a sag aloo which I made from the same book, The Food of India, by Murdoch Books, although it was methi aloo in the book so I substituted spinach for fenugreek. Pilau rice made with basmati and a pilau rice seasoning from Schwartz. Naan breads were from the local Asian shop too and were lovely and thin and crispy.

I think she liked it!

Indian Feast

Chicken Tikka Masala

Sag Aloo

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Marco's Cottage Pie

I've had Marco's Great British Feasts (that's a SIGNED copy 'Ann Tmmmmmy Coommmmy MmmmmO x - whatever that means!) for quite a while, but haven't tried any of the recipes yet. Perusing the fridge, I spied some mince beef, and some spuds (yaay!  they weren't in the fridge though, obviously) so Cottage Pie it is.

I followed it fairly well to the letter, except for red onions instead of white, dried thyme (sorry Marco!) and ketchup instead of tomato puree. Oh, and red wine instead of white... fancy not having any white wine in!
Overall a fairly easy recipe, and it tasted really good. A bit slushy, but can't blame Marco for that, I should have let it cook off a bit longer. As Himself said, no need for graaaaavy!

Marco's Cottage Pie

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Lemon Cupcakes

With the little family all pre-occupied with football, Wii, colouring in, I de-camped to the kitchen and started on some cakes. After the bolognese, I felt like doing something sweet.

I had pinned this recipe earlier so I wanted to try it:
Lemon Cupcakes by Like Mam Used To Bake

A lovely recipe, the only thing I didn't have was buttermilk, so I put some normal milk in a cup and squeezed some lemon juice in it and gave it a mix - think it worked quite well.

Unfortunately I forgot to add the lemon zest to the butter, so... eh... they weren't very lemony! But still very nice.

And for the buttercream icing, I realised I had run out of butter! So I just made royal icing with some lemon juice in it (I really needed it to be lemony after my earlier omission). However, Madam decided she wanted to help with the decorating, so the lemon theme was lost in pink colouring... Oh well.

Still, a really nice recipe and I will try them again, remember the lemon and get more butter.

Easy bolognese for kids

We all know kids are fussy eaters. Mine could live on spaghetti bolognese though. I've made it a few times where they have turned up their little noses, but now I think I've got it.

Fry off onions, carrots and garlic for about 10 minutes. Then add in a tin of chopped tomatoes, a splash of vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar. Simmer this for about 10 minutes until you can no longer get the whiff of the vinegar!
Before the blitz
  Then pour it into a blender or whatever, and blitz it. It comes out a nice orange colour!

Then back to the wok, fry off the mince until completely browned. Then add in the pureed sauce, add about 100 ml of beef stock and let it all simmer for a good 20 minutes or longer.

Bolognese with no bits

 Serve with spaghetti or pasta, depending on the requirements of the children!

Spaghetti bolognese for her

Pasta bolognese for him

And plenty of grated cheese.