25 February 2015

Curried haddock chowder with peas


I've been making haddock chowder a bit recently, but when I made it using milk it curdled. I Googled this problem and apparently it's normal. You either accept it or choose a different method of making it. I decided to try making it using stock and then adding creme fraiche at the end (as it's the high heat of the milk that creates the curdling problem). It works a treat! Now this is how I make it every time. 

On this occasion I fancied a curried flavour, and I tried it with peas instead of sweetcorn (my husband hates sweetcorn) and it was absolutely delicious. Seriously, I could eat this quite often and never tire of it! It's so good with a squeeze of lime to cut through the creaminess. I served mine with simple brown rice (1 part brown rice, 2 parts water, cover and bring to boil, simmer for about 25 minutes, until all water has been sucked up) and loads of fresh coriander and red chillies. 

If you fancy a plain chowder simply skip the curry paste bit - and feel free to swap peas for sweetcorn, then serve with chopped parsley instead of coriander - et voila, a normal chowder (which, I do admit, my kids preferred to this pimped up version). Me? I like this one best, by far. 

This is a really quick dish (on the table in 20!) but also it's special enough for the weekend too. 

Serves: 4 
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon butter 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
3 tablespoons of Balti curry paste (or similar)
600ml vegetable stock 
125g creme fraiche
400g smoked haddock (preferably undyed), skinned and cut into big chunks
800g peeled waxy potatoes, diced into about 2cm cubes
200g peas
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 lime, squeezed over to taste

To serve: 
Fresh coriander
Fresh red chillies for grown ups
Brown rice
More lime to squeeze

Instructions:  
  1. Soften onion and garlic in oil and butter for a few minutes. 
  2. Add the Balti paste and the cubed potatoes. Cook on low for about 5 minutes, stirring to avoid sticking. 
  3. Now for the stock and cook, covered for about 5 more minutes, until potatoes are almost but not quite done. 
  4. Stir in the creme fraiche. Tip in the haddock and peas and simmer for about 5 minutes. 
  5. Taste. Squeeze lime, season and taste again. Serve with rice and fresh coriander. 

24 February 2015

Easy Nutella cupcakes


I promise I'm not addicted to or obsessed by Nutella! I'm saying this as I only recently posted this Nutella and peanut butter cornflake cake recipe. The reason for my numerous Nutella recipes in a short period is that I accidentally ordered an embarrassingly large jar (like, 1KG!!) from Ocado. I seem to do that a lot - ending up with tiny bags of peas or ginormous sacks of spinach. It's definitely a hazard of online shopping, but doing it online sure beats a trip to the supermarket with a 2 and 4 year old in tow!

You know I love healthy food, but you also probably know I appreciate the heart warming, soul snuggling worth of a homemade treat too - especially if it's chocolatey! My son was at a playdate (I hate that word - has anyone got a suggestion for an alternative?) last week so I had some extra time with my daughter. We decided to bake cupcakes! These are basically Mary Berry's cupcake recipe with Nutella - in the sponge and the icing. So easy - great for baking with kids. And really quite delish too.

As you can see, I am as far from a piping bag wielding cupcake expert as you could get - I just smother the icing on using a teaspoon. Also don't do as I did and remove the paper case; it's a bloody nightmare to get a grip on them for icing. Lesson learned!

Makes: 12 cupcakes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients: 

100g butter, softened
150g self-raising flour
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons of Nutella

For the icing:
100g butter, softened
225g icing sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons of Nutella
A splash of milk may be required, to loosen

Blitzed chocolate to decorate (optional)

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. 
  2. Beat the ingredients together until smooth. I use an electric whisk to do this. 
  3. Bake for 20 minutes. Leave to cool, then ice. 
  4. To make icing, whip up the butter and icing sugar until they form a thick paste - it will happen, don't worry, just keep beating! Then fold in the Nutella - add a splash of milk if it needs loosening. 
  5. When the cakes are cool, smother icing on with a teaspoon and sprinkle blitzed up chocolate (or whatever you fancy) on top). 

20 February 2015

Avocado toast with scrambled eggs


After perusing my little breakfast / brunch list on my Recipes page I realised that it didn't contain an avocado-based option. And that just won't do, as I am eating a LOT of avos right now, and I want my Recipes list to reflect what I eat day to day. I have loved them forever, but they seem to be having a moment, along with coconut oil and a few other trendy ingredients that are ultra tasty as well as mega nutritious.

The easiest way to deal with avocados is to mash them on toast. I rub my toast - ideally a rustic type sourdough or country loaf - with a garlic clove first and then just smush it on! Sometimes I add chopped tomatoes and coriander on top, sometimes I start with a little mayo (or veganaise, a la Gwynnie) and then pile on the avocado. I frequently top with my beloved Sriracha chilli sauce! (You can get this at Asian stores and good supermarkets)

My son loves avocados, my daughter doesn't. I make smoothies sometimes with them in to get some of their goodness into her tummy. They are also great in salads (try baby spinach, avocado, pine nut and balsamic) and even as the base of a thick and creamy dressing. Check out all my avocado recipes here for more avo-inspo!

This weekend why not try a healthy and substantial breakfast that will do you some good too? Avocado toast is THE perfect choice.

Serves: 1 adult / 2 kids
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 2 minutes
Total time: 4 minutes

Ingredients: 
2 slices of rustic bread
1 small clove of garlic
1 avocado
2 eggs
Salt and pepper

To serve: 
Sriracha chilli sauce (optional)

Instructions: 
  1. Toast your bread. 
  2. Rub both slices with a raw garlic clove. 
  3. Using a fork, mash your avocado. 
  4. Spread onto toast and top with scrambled egg. (I like my egg really soft - there's nothing worse than rubbery scrambles! Ideally do in a pan or in a microwave but stop and stir really often if it's the latter)
  5. Season with S&P and top with Sriracha sauce for the grown ups. 

17 February 2015

Baked English breakfast


This was a netmums recipe that I provided an image for late last year. At the time I thought, "Meh", a mini English brekkie in the oven, what's so spesh? But, actually, I have used this method (it's a method rather than a recipe, right?) over and over again. When it was snowing, a week or so ago, me and Bea (my 2 year old) had this as a lunch a few times. It felt much needed, a rib sticking meal washed down with hot milky tea.

In my mind, there is nothing wrong with an English breakfast. If the ingredients are good quality, ideally free range meat from your butcher's, and fresh eggs that are local if poss, then it can be a highly nutritious meal. And baking it does keep the fat content down a wee bit. To be honest the reason I like to bake a breakfast like this is more that it is so convenient. I bake everything apart from the eggs, then just keep it warm, go and fetch Bea from preschool, and when we're home pop in the eggs to bake. Try this method of a weekend instead of using several different pans that all require washing up. Of course, you'll need a solid roasting pan, we have a Scanpan one which was expensive but a good investment as we use it so often.

Oh, by the way, I know it's pancake day today, but I have quite a lot of pancake recipes on here already, so please feel free to check them out here and here - and here too!

Serves: 2 adults - simply double for a family of 4
Prep time: 0 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients: 
4 sausages
4 slices of back bacon
2 large field mushrooms
2 tomatoes
2-4 eggs
A tablespoon of oil
Black pepper, to taste

Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Warm a large roasting tin with a little oil in the oven.
  3. Add the sausages. Brown for 10 minutes.
  4. Take out, turn the sausages and add the bacon. Cook for 5 more minutes, turning the bacon half way through.
  5. When the meat is done, take out of tray and keep warm on a plate in the oven.
  6. Add the mushrooms, halved tomatoes to the roasting tray. Bake for 5 minutes, turning half way.
  7. Make some room, then crack 4 eggs into the roasting pan and put back into the hot oven for a few minutes, until the eggs are done.
  8. Serve with hot buttered toast.

5 February 2015

Eggs in tomato sauce


I'm obsessed with Eggs in tomato sauce, and all the variations of it. It is, without doubt, one of my very favourite things to eat, something that we turn to again and again when the cupboards are almost bare. So nutritious and easy, and the kids really enjoy it too.

All you need, really, to make it are fresh eggs, tinned tomatoes, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Ideally some fresh, crusty bread to soak the sauce up with. And I always love to sprinkle on fresh herbs - this time chilli too. But the kids like it plain. I do a Moorish version, which has paprika and cumin in. And also one with crispy chorizo in, that's divine if you fancy a special lunch.

This dish is all about the simple tomato sauce. Cracking eggs into it once it's ready (or once you've reheated it if you're taking some from a batch) makes it into a 'dish'. This is my go-to tomato sauce. I adore it. It may require long cooking, but it couldn't be any quicker to prepare. The proportions of it change from time to time. It's basically LOADS of garlic, sizzled in LOADS of extra virgin olive oil with canned tommies. Then I generously salt it. That's it. I tend to use the ratio of 1 tin: 3 cloves: 3 tablespoons. Roughly. You can cook the sauce for less time - the shortest time I've given it before is about 20 minutes - it's still good but it's more watery.

The simplicity of the sauce appeals to be SO MUCH, especially as there are no onions in there as I loathe chopping them. I use it as a base sauce for pizzas (making these later today as my son is having a friend round for tea), for Melanzane di parmigiana, over pasta - and for this too! It's worth batch making it and then you've got some in the fridge to use when you're too tired to cook from scratch.

Serves: 2 adults and 2 kids 
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour - 1 1/2 hours
Total time: 1 1/2 hours approx (unless you have a batch of sauce ready, in which case it's 5 minutes from start to finish)

Ingredients: 

My Go-to Tomato Sauce:
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Large pinch (a scant teaspoon) of salt

6 eggs - I tend to use 2 per adult and 1 per child.

To serve: 
Suggestions: drizzle of extra virgin, coriander, parsley, basil, fresh chilli, yoghurt, parmesan, crispy chorizo, bacon, pinch of paprika and/or ground cumin... or wilt some spinach into the sauce before serving - the list is endless!

Instructions: 

  1. Chop your garlic pretty fine and heat in warm oil over a heavy bottom frying pan until the garlic is sizzling gently but not colouring. 
  2. Before it browns, add the tommies. Salt generously, and simmer for about an hour or more, covered. If you want to reduce it quicker, cook with the lid off, but be prepared to add a splash of water if it gets too 'jammy' or starts sticking. 
  3. When your sauce is done, crack your eggs into it and cover until they're cooked.