Thursday, 7 February 2013

Spicy Noodle Soup Packed with Greens

So I started my week with a cough, which has slowly but surely evolved in to the mother of all colds. Needless to say I’m desperate for a little R&R. What with copious amounts of shorthand practice and court visits filling my time (for those of you who weren't sure I’m a trainee journalist rather then a criminal), rest and relaxation days have been few and far between, but thankfully I have found solace in food, and particularly soup. 

This soup is perfect for those needing a good dose of vitamins to ward off all those winter nasties, the addition of the noodles saving this meal from becoming too health conscience. Add as much ginger and sweet chilli sauce as you like, and be sure to add more if you, like me, want to blast away a cold. 

This dish is also stupidly quick to put together, all the more important when you feel like your head’s going to explode...

Serves 1
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
half red onion, peeled and finely sliced
1/2 thumb ginger, peeled and finely chopped
handful of sugar snap peas
1 spring onion, sliced
handful of bean sprouts
two leaves of pak choi
straight to wok noodles for one
a bowls worth of chicken or vegetable stock
tsp malt vinegar
slosh of soy sauce 
1 to 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce (depending on taste)
large pinch of sugar
finely sliced cucumber, to serve
coriander leaves, to serve
  1. Warm up the stock and add the vinegar, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce and sugar. Keep on a low heat whilst you prepare the greens.
  2. Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan, add the noodles and toss for 1 minute. Then add the remaining ingredients and toss for a further minute. You want the veg slightly charred but still crunchy. 
  3. Put the veg and noodles in the bowl and pour over the stock. Serve with a sprinkling of coriander and scatter of sliced cucumber.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Smoked Salmon Parcels with Cucumber Ribbons and Melba Toast

The inspiration for this recipe was a Christmas present, the salmon being the ‘parcel’ and the cucumber strips the ‘ribbons’. Quite rich and very spoily, it made the perfect starter to our Christmas Day feast, and was terribly simple to make too, allowing for optimum present opening time. None of the flavours overpower the salmon, instead complimenting one another, and it looks suitably celebratory on the plate. With Valentine’s Day coming up there really is no excuse not to make this starter, perhaps in heart shaped moulds.

Serves 6
700g high quality smoked salmon slices 
300g creme fraiche
100g cream cheese
1 tbsp finely chopped fennel
1tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
fresh dill, finely chopped, plus sprigs to decorate
1 lemon, cut into quarters
olive oil, to grease the ramekins
5 slices of white bread
1 cucumber, peeled into ribbons
  1. Whizz 200g smoked salmon in a food processor briefly, so that it remains bitty and hasn’t turned to mush. Add the creme fraiche, cream cheese, and whizz briefly again.
  2. Put into a bowl and add the fennel, sugar, lemon juice, chopped dill (to taste), salt and pepper.
  3. Grease 6 ramekins (which can hold about 100ml of water) with the oil, then line with the remaining salmon.
  4. Spoon in the mixture, and then seal by turning over the edges of the salmon, and adding a further piece to ensure there are no gaps.
  5. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge overnight.
  6. To serve, turn out on to plates (they should come out with a little coaxing using a knife), and surround with the cucumber ribbons. Add a dill garnish to the top, and scatter around, and add the lemon quarters. Serve with the melba toasts.
To make the melba toast, toast sliced bread in a toaster, then when it pops up immediately slice the toast again and cut off the crusts. Place in the oven, middle, non toasted side up, and leave until the toast starts to curl and brown. This will take about half an hour, but keep an eye on it!! Carefully remove, and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. 

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Cake: Part Two 'Wreath Design'

So here it is, Part Two of this years Christmas Cake creation. The presents have been bought, wrapped and placed under the tree, the larder has been stocked and the first Guylian seashell of the season has been scoffed. It was time for one of my last, and most favourite Christmas traditions of the year, decorating the cake. Scan down to the next post and you will see that with the help of Dad (and Delia) I made my first Christmas cake from scratch, so spent a long time deciding on the best way to decorate it, to truly do it justice.

Past decorations have included Santa’s and Trees, Presents and Carol Singers, a classy Candle creation and a slightly less classy Christmas dinner spread. This year I opted for the traditional Christmas Wreath, and went all out buying edible powders, glitters and stars to make it dazzle.

I started by putting a layer of marzipan and icing on to the cake, before creating the holly and ivy leaves by hand, which I painted in situ on the cake.

I created sparkly paint by mixing the gel colours with golden powder, which created a beautiful metallic effect. I then added berries for the holly before rolling out strips of marzipan to create ribbons that appear wound around the wreath and a big bow to finish the whole thing off. 

I finally sprinkled some edible gold stars over the wreath, and VOILA, my Christmas Cake of 2012 was complete.

Wishing all my lovely readers an Exceedingly Happy Christmas!!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Christmas Cake: Part One

Chopped candied peel and raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries and Brandy

I write this whilst watching Home Alone, my first Christmas movie of the year. I don’t know about you but I am fully in the Christmas mood already, my christmas list is written, I’ve loved seeing the lights go up around town, and have thoroughly enjoyed bookmarking recipes in the extra special sparkly December issue of Good Food. Making the all important Christmas Cake was quite literally the icing on the cake. 

Ready to be mixed then covered and left overnight

Last weekend my grandmother celebrated her 80th Birthday, and all the family descended on Bath for the festivities. This was a brilliant excuse for my dad and I to make the Christmas Cake, the first one I’ve ever made. 

Fruit being mixed into flour, butter, egg and spices mix

We opted for Delia Smiths classic Christmas Cake recipe, and I thought I would share with you some snaps of the cake thus far. I must say the baking seemed to go without a hitch, except for the minor panic when we realised we were pretty short on large mixing bowls. 


The recipe was easy to follow, and although I had to get the train back to Brighton before it came out of the oven, my dad assures me it looked and smelt great. 

Ready for the oven

Now its been wrapped up, except for the occasional brandy feeding, until its time to decorate. Stay tuned for Part Two, coming your way in a month or so!! 

All wrapped up for its 4 and a half hours in the oven

Ta Da!!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Chorizo and Chickpea Soup

I am fast becoming a big fan of soup. It’s strange really as I’ve never been big on mushed indistinct food stuffs in the past, but since I’ve been back at university and the weather has turned so cold it’s the first thing I turn to when I’m wanting something warming and packed with lots of good things. I think the fact that I always add a home baked roll with wedges of goat butter into the mix makes the whole thing even more appealing.

That this soup came out so well is a bit of a fluke really. I always like to have a chorizo on the go, it perks up even the most boring of dishes, and the other ingredients were knocking about at the back of the cupboard. The result is a hearty meaty soup with a slight kick, and enough chickpeas to make a filling supper. 

Being a DIY job I’m not ashamed to say that this soup is a work in progress. On its own it’s great, but I don’t think it would hurt too much to throw in some more veg, a little chopped celery or some peppers perhaps.

Serves 2
1 cured chorizo sausage, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
a pinch of paprika
a heaped teaspoon of dried oregano
200g tinned chopped tomatoes
200g tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
500ml vegetable stock
salt and pepper
small handful basil leaves, sliced into strips
  1. In a large saucepan that has a lid, fry the chorizo on a medium heat until it begins to release its oil and starts to crisp.
  2. Add the garlic, onion, paprika and onion and cook on a low heat until the onion has turned translucent. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, then add the stock and chickpeas and bring to a boil.
  4. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Season and add the basil, then simmer with the lid on for a further 10 minutes or so.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Sweet and Spicy Beef Stir-Fry with Ginger

This summer hasn’t been great. I’m not going to bore you with the details, as this is a cooking blog not a diary. But things are on the up. I started an MA and diploma in Multimedia Journalism this week, and can’t wait to get back into writing again after a 2 month long hiatus. 

I created this recipe forever ago, ready to share with you, but then life got too much and I completely forgot about. Quite how I forgot about it I don’t know, because it’s the most quickest, easiest and tastiest supper. I for one am a great fan of sweet flavours in savoury food, I always order a fruity Chicken Kashmiri from my local Indian takeaway, and scatter extra pineapple over my pizzas. The fresh pineapple used here adds just the right amount of sweetness, complimenting the beef well. 

Serves 2
300g rump steak, thinly sliced
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Tabasco sauce
1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp rice mirin wine
thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into thin matchsticks
handful of mange tout
4 spring onions, thickly sliced
100g pineapple, cut into small pieces
large handful of beansprouts
coriander leaves, to garnish
rice, to serve
splash of olive oil
  1. Put the beef in a bowl with the soy sauce, sugar, tabasco, vinegar and wine, and marinate for 10 minutes or so.
  2. Heat the oil in a large deep frying pan, lift the beef from the marinade and add to pan, searing quickly on all sides, before removing to a plate.
  3. Add the ginger to the pan and fry for a minute, then add the mange tout, before adding the onion, pineapple, beansprouts and any remaining marinade.
  4. Fry on a high heat, stirring constantly. After a minute add the beef and give everything a good stir. 
  5. Serve over rice, and garnish with the coriander leaves. 

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Healthy Turkey Burgers with Pita, Tzatziki and Salad Leaves

About three years ago I went to university, drank beer and ordered too much takeaway. I started a food blog and became addicted to recipe books and cooking. It was only a matter of time before I needed the intervention of a personal trainer. 

Last week I began a four week programme of exercising with Emily, and a healthy eating plan. Note that this is not a diet, it’s a nutrition plan, which sounds so much more inviting. Well, I’m loving it so far, slightly because I went home this weekend and broke all the rules, but mostly because it tells me to eat more then I usually do. Salads, seeds and oat cakes loom large, but so do lovely fresh vegetables, fruits and protein rich meat and fish. My shopping trolley was looking so good this morning I nearly took a photo of it. I’m not THAT cool though. 

One supper suggestion on the plan is grilled turkey burgers with pita and salad, and the recipe below is my interpretation of the brief. I used extra lean turkey breast mince which contains only two grams of fat, regular lean contains about six, which just don’t cut it I’m afraid. The tzatziki uses low fat Greek yoghurt, and the pita bread is of the extra groovy, crammed with seeds, wholegrain variety. The whole lot’s either grilled or raw. And most importantly, it was delicious and I don’t feel like I’m starving myself. Ben’s even requested it again, the ultimate seal of approval!! 
Serves 2 greedy people, or 4 calorie counters
- For the Burgers -
500g extra lean turkey breast mince
1 onion, peeled and grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
a sprinkle of cayenne pepper
- For Everything Else - 
salad leaves, I’ve used spinach
1 spring onion, chopped
1 tomato, sliced
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
2 small wholemeal pitas, halved
Tzatziki (my recipe can be found here, use low fat Greek yoghurt)
  1. Preheat the grill. Mix all the burger ingredients together in a bowl, and shape into four burgers. Grill for approximately 8 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through. 
  2. Put together all the other ingredients on the serving plate, and serve the burgers on top, with plenty of tzatziki on the side.
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