Yep, it's been a long time. Too many months of being stuck in a culinary rut, eating the same type of food week in week out, no enthusiasm to try anything new. Boredom, complacency and continued diet weariness set in.
So I am trying to shake myself out of it and to start cooking recipes I would not normally cook or have never tried before.
This dish from Weight Watchers was so prefect for spicing up the taste buds and getting the enthusiasm back up and running.
It is simple, quick and packs such a yummy punch.
Lamb's Liver with Apple & Balsamic Serves 2 Approx Pro Points 8 per serving
1 medium swede, peeled and cubed
2 spring onions, fine chopped
2 tbsp. skimmed milk
2 tsp olive oil
300g Lamb's liver, cut into strips
1 small red apple, cored and cut into 8 wedges
150ml unsweetened apple juice
1 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp dried sage
Boil up the swede for 10 mins, the drain and add the spring onions and milk, cover and leave to one side.
In a non-stick frying pan heat the oil and then add the liver. Cook for 1 minute, add the apple and fry for a further minute. Pour in the apple juice, Balsamic and sage and bubble away over a high heat for 3-5 mins, until the liquid has thickened.
Lightly crush the swede and make sure the onions and mike a mixed in well.
Serve the liver on a bed of swede and pour over any remaining juices. Yum.
I made an epic tomato salad this weekend, inspired by Jamie Oliver. It went as follows:
A mixture of small, cherry and plum tomatoes, preferably in a variety of colours.
Quarter them add to a bowl
Drizzle over a little oil - I used rape seed
Dribble over either balsamic vinegar or in my case red wine vinegar - not too much though
Sprinkle a pinch or two of dried Oregano and a spot of S&P
Mix together and serve. Utterly delicious.
New Year and time to clear out the freezer and start afresh. I found a Partridge and various legs off duck, partridge and pheasant all stashed away and noticed the date on the packaging was for over a year ago! So came up with what I hoped would be a good recipe to show off the game birds, without highlighting their freezer frost and age. I decided on a lovely slow cooked ragu.
Serves 4 Approx. 10 WW Pro Points per serving.
1 Partridge or any other game bird you have lurking around
1 onion, diced
1 stick celery, diced,
1 carrot diced,
4 cloves garlic,
75g cubed pancetta
1 can chopped tomatoes
big squeeze tomato puree
800ml fresh stock - I used the last of the Xmas turkey stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
10 juniper berries, crushed
1 glass red wine - 175ml
1 tbsp oil
Roast your bird and leave to cool. discard the skin and shred the meat.
Get the stock on the boil in a pan and reduce by 2/3rd, especially if you are using fresh stock, this will intensify the flavours and allow you to skim off any impurities..
Add the oil to a large shallow pan and add the carrot, onion & celery and slowly sweat them off until translucent and soft - do not allow them to colour. Add the finely sliced garlic and cook out. Once cooked remove them from the pan and set to one side.
Add the pancetta to the pan and fry, add the shredded partridge and cook until they have taken on a little colour.
Pour in the wine and sizzle, scraping up all the yummy bits from the bottom of the pan. Add back in the veg along with the tomatoes and puree, herbs and juniper berries. Season.
Slowly simmer until reduced, thick and unctuous about 45mins to an hour.
Season and serve over freshly made pasta - yes, whilst I was cooking hubby was making pasta! with a grating of parmesan over the top. Mmmmm (Pasta not included in PP count above)
Looking at my bookcase of cook books, it occurred to me that most of them are Jamie Oliver books. Even though I have so many this recipe came from the one of the few books of his I do not own - 15 Minute Meals, so I pulled a copy off his website. See Here
I changed the recipe to suit two people as below, I also used Zero Noodles instead of rice noodles. Zero Noodles are my new favourite at only 8 calories per 100g it allows you to fill up your meal but not the calories.
It was so fragrant and tasty and creamy was really surprised by the amount of flavour that came from such a quick and simple recipe.
Thai Chicken Laksa
Serves 2 Approx 15 WW Pro Points
For the Chicken
2 skinless & Boneless chicken thighs - approx. 90g each
1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice
2 tsp runny honey
1/2 red chilli - fresh
For the Laksa
400ml chicken stock
1/2 butternut squash - grated
1 clove garlic
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 red chilli - fresh
1/2 tsp turmeric
4 spring onions, trimmed
1 tsp peanut butter
2 dried kaffir lime leaves
Small handful fresh coriander
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp soy sauce
250g Zero Noodles or rice noodles
1 bunch asparagus - ends trimmed and cut into chunks.
1/2 can (200ml) coconut milk, should be light but I could only get hold of full fat!
Bash the chicken flat to about 1.5cm thick and coat in the 5 spice, salt and pepper. Place on a hot griddle pan - no fat - and cook 3-4 mins each side until charred.
In a food processor add the garlic, chilli, turmeric, spring onions, peanut butter, kaffir lime leaves and the stalks of the coriander, sesame oil and soy sauce, blitz this into a paste.
In a pan place the hot stock and grated BNS, pour the paste into the stock and add the noodles. Bring to the boil.
Once to the boil add the coconut milk and asparagus, squeeze in the juice of 1/2 lime, cook for a few mins until the asparagus is tender.
Back to the chicken and now it is thoroughly cooked drizzle over the honey and juice of the lime, it will bubble & hiss and get sticky and dark.
Serve the Laksa in a bowl with the chicken sliced on the top and the reserved coriander leaves and chopped red chilli sprinkled over. Utterly scrumptious.
This is the ultimate dip and was an absolute showstopper when I made it on New Years Eve, so much so I was not able to get a photo of it before the vultures descended and wolfed it down!
Another find from the Good Food website, it is so simple and decidedly naughty.
Melty Cheese Fondue Pot
200g brie, rind removed and chopped
100g cream cheese - no wishy washy light stuff, full fat!
100g Gruyere, grated
2 tbsp Parmesan grated
2 tbsp milk
2 tsp cornflour
Few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
100g caramelised onion chutney or 1 jar English Provinder Caramelised Onion Chutney as I used!
Mix the milk and cornflour together and the whizz up with the brie, cream cheese, Gruyere and half of the Parmesan in a food processor until smooth. Stir in the thyme and some ground black pepper.
Spoon the chutney into an ovenproof dish and smooth down. Top off with the cheese mixture and sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan. You can now either cover and keep in the fridge
for a couple of days or go straight for baking in a oven at 140oc fan/GM3 for 25 minutes until bubbling, then grill (if required for a couple of mins until golden and crispy on top - I did not need to do this step)
Serve with crusty bread, breadsticks, crudité, fingers, whatever you have to hand, but be warned it will not last long!!
Following on from Christmas Day festivities we were, like many families, left with a surfeit of turkey. Having spent the previous weekend lying on the sofa watching possibly 5 hours worth of Save With Jamie episodes back to back in the hopes of hinting towards the book for a Christmas present I was rewarded with said book and from it knew that I would be trying this recipe
As with all Jamie Oliver's recipes, they just bloody work and this is no exception. Utterly simple and easy, but delicious and comforting and leading to the possibilities to change the recipe as you wish, as I have below.
Turkey & Leek Pie Serves 4.
2 rashers smoked bacon - chopped
couple sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
3 larges leeks, white end cut into chunks, green end finely sliced
400g cooked turkey meat, shredded into chunks
1 pt turkey stock
1 tbsp. crème fraiche
500g pre rolled puff pastry
6 pre-packed chestnuts, roughly chopped
3-4 crumbled dried sage leaves
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp. plain flour
Fry the bacon in a pan with thyme leaves and oil. Add the leeks, S&P and fry for 3 mins then turn down the heat and cover for 30 mins, stirring from time to time, they will become soft and juicy.
Add the turkey meat and flour, mix well then add the stock. Add the crème fraiche and turn up the heat and bring back to the boil then turn off the heat.
Pour the mixture through a sieve to catch all the sauce in a separate pan. tip the meat mixture into your baking dish and smooth out. By removing the sauce you get to keep the pastry crispy and golden.
Unfurl (or roll) your pastry add the chestnuts and sage to half of the pastry and fold over, roll out to the size of the dish. Lay the pastry over the turkey and leek mixture, tucking it down around the sides. Take a knife and score lightly in a diagonal over the pastry, wash with egg.
Pop into oven at 190oc/GM5 for 30-40 mins. Remove and serve with the reserved sauce, that has been heated up poured over. The sage and chestnuts add a lovely little flavour punch and texture to the creamy comforting dish.
I served this with a lovely red cabbage recipe I found on Good Food website.
Red Cabbage with Balsamic & Cranberries
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 large onions
1 tsp ground cloves ( or 6 whole cloves)
1 medium red cabbage, thinly sliced
200ml veg stock
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
100g brown sugar
200g fresh cranberries
Heat oil in large pan, add onions and fry for 10 mins until they start to caramelise. Add cloves and cabbage, cook until the cabbage starts to soften.
Pour in the stock, add the vinegar and sugar. Cover and cook for 10 mins.
Stir in the cranberries and cook for a further 10 mins. Either serve or leave to cool and can be kept in fridge for upto 4 days or frozen, making sure to re-heat to piping hot when ready to serve.
This was a lovely sweet and slightly sticky side dish with a nice tang of cranberry and was even better the following day re-heated.
Welcome to my cooking diary. I am a fairly good cook willing to try most things, I hope to continue to expand my repertoire and cook healthy (ish) dishes. I use this blog as a aide memoire so I don't forget what I have cooked!