Simple Sesame Noodles

Simple Sesame Noodles

 

When deadlines are tight and work is mounting up spending hours slaving over a hot stove is impractical. I’m away at the weekend and frantically trying to pack – it is at times like these that you need a recipe such as this!

Two minutes and you have a delicious bowl of noodles which will hit the spot perfectly! Using store-cupboard staples means there is no need to go shopping for special ingredients. By all means substitute ingredients for ones you have on hand – sugar snap peas thinly sliced are a good addition.

This would also be great as a side dish with duck or fish.

Simple Sesame Noodles
Serves 1

300g Ready Cooked Soft Noodles (Warmed)
1 Red Chilli Sliced
3 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Sugar
2 tsp Rice Vinegar
1/2 Garlic Clove Chopped
1 tbsp Rapeseed Oil
2 tbsp Sesame Oil
2 Spring Onions Sliced
1 Wedge of Lime

Method:

1) Place the soy sauce, chilli, sugar, rice vinegar, garlic and rapeseed oil in a small saucepan over a low heat – cook until warm.

2) Stir through the warm, cooked noodles. Add the sesame oil and stir to combine.

3) Top with the sliced spring onions and serve with a wedge of lime.

Enjoy!

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Parmesan and Thyme Muffins

Parmesan and Thyme Muffins

 

A crisp exterior with a light and fluffy centre – these savoury muffins take only 5 minutes to make and are a great afternoon snack. The exclusion of butter means they are relatively healthy – helping the post-Christmas healthy eating regime!

Whilst parmesan and thyme is delicious, the recipe is not restricted to these additions – please experiment! The recipe can be easily multiplied to make more muffins.

Parmesan and Thyme Muffins
Makes 6

Ingredients:

140g Plain Flour
115ml Milk
1/2 tbsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Thyme Leaves
1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
50g Grated Parmesan
2 Eggs

Method:

1) Pre heat the oven to 200C, line a muffin tin with 6 small muffin cases.

2) Sieve the flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper and paprika into a mixing bowl and stir to combine.

3) In a jug – whisk the milk together with 1 egg. Fold this mixture into the dry ingredients lightly.

4) Reserve 1 tbsp of parmesan and add remainder along with the thyme to the mixture and fold lightly to combine.

5) Spoon the mixture evenly between the muffin cases. Whisk the remaining egg and glaze the top of each muffin. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan over the top of the muffins.

6) Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool a little.

Best enjoyed warm!

Banana-Chocolate Chip Caramel Cake

Banana-Chocolate Chip Caramel Cake

 

This magnificent cake went down a storm with my flatmates – I highly doubt it will last until tomorrow!

Lighter than banana bread – milk and dark chocolate chips and caramel frosting make this cake super decadent. It is relatively simple to make and is perfect with coffee.

The caramel frosting featured in a previous recipe and is very versatile.

If you are left with excess cake batter make some extra muffins and top with a little of the frosting for a great mid-morning snack.

Banana-Chocolate Chip Caramel Cake

Banana-Chocolate Chip Caramel Cake

Ingredients:
3 Cups Plain Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
2 Cups Caster Sugar
250g Unsalted Butter (At Room Temperature)
3 Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
4 Ripe Bananas (Mashed)
300 ml Sour Cream
100g Milk Chocolate Chips
100g Dark Chocolate Chips

1 Quantity Caramel Frosting

2 x 8 3/4 Inch Sandwich Pans

Method:

1) Line the cake pans with baking parchment. Pre heat the oven to 180C.

2) Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract with an electric whisk until light and fluffy (2 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, whisking to combine.

3) Measure the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and mix to combine. Slowly add to the wet mixture, whisking slowly to ensure it is fully combined.

4) Lightly whisk the bananas and sour cream into the mixture. Add the chocolate chips and fold to combine.

5) Divide the mixture between the two cake pans and place in the oven. Bake for approx. 40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean.

6) Transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool. Once cooled, sandwich the two layers of the cake together with a little caramel frosting. Use the remainder of the frosting to cover the top of the cake.

Enjoy!

Ham, Leek & Garlic Tart

Ham, Leek and Garlic Tart

 

A well made tart or Quiche is a glorious thing. Thin, crisp pastry encasing a filling packed full of flavour. Perfect with a salad and ideal for lunch.

Despite taking two attempts to make (I stupidly dropped the pastry midway through cooking), this is perhaps my favourite savoury tart! The garlic does not over power and using smoked pancetta as well as air-dried ham ensures ham remains star of the show.

I detail the recipe for the filling below as I am sure we all have a go-to recipe for shortcrust pastry. If in a rush a shop bought pastry case will work just as well.

Ham, Leek & Garlic Tart

Ingredients:

1 Savoury Pastry Flan Case
4 Duck Egg Yolks
400ml Milk
4 Slices White Bread (Into Breadcrumbs, Crusts Removed)
2 Heads of Garlic
100g Smoked Pancetta, Sliced
6 Slices Air Dried Ham
Large Handful Chopped Parsley
2 Leeks, Finely Sliced
75g Gruyère, Grated.
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Fresh Nutmeg

Method:

1) Pre heat the oven to 180C. Wrap the garlic heads in tin foil and cook in the oven for 40 minutes until tender. Remove and squeeze the cloves from the skin – it should resemble a purée.

2) Cook the leeks in a little butter in a saucepan over a medium heat for 25 minutes or until tender. Season with a little salt. Set aside.

3) Fry the pancetta in a medium pan over a medium heat for 10 minutes or until crisp. Add the slices of air dried ham to the pan and allow to crisp up (2 minutes). Set aside.

4) Make the custard by whisking the egg yolks, milk and breadcrumbs together in a mixing bowl. The consistency should be like lightly whisked double cream or a thin bread sauce. Season with black pepper and a little nutmeg and stir through the chopped parsley.

5) Pre heat the oven to 200C. Take the pastry case and lightly spread the garlic purée over the bottom. Cover with the leeks. Add the pancetta and air dried ham. Cover with the custard mixture. Top with the grated gruyère and a little freshly ground black pepper.

6) Transfer the tart to the oven and cook for approx. 45 minutes or until just cooked – a skewer inserted into the middle of the tart should come out clean.

Enjoy!

Mum’s Lamb Curry

Mum's Lamb Curry

 

This curry was a Friday night staple whilst I was growing up and is utterly delicious! Ideal for an easy weekend meal with friends or a mid-week supper, this mild and fragrant curry will appeal to all.

Making your own spice blend and curry paste may seem like unnecessary effort, but it really is worth it.

I am very grateful to mum for digging out her recipe and reminding me what a classic this is – definitely a go-to recipe for curry.

Lamb Curry
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the Spice Blend: 2 tbsp Coriander Seeds, 2 tbsp Cumin Seeds, 1 tbsp Ground Fenugreek, 1 tsp Fennel Seeds, 8 Black Peppercorns, 1 Clove, 2 Cardamon Pods, 1/2 Cinnamon Stick.

For the Curry Paste: 1″ Fresh Ginger Peeled, 2 Red Onions Peeled, 2 Garlic Cloves Peeled, 3 Fresh Red Chillies Seeded, Large Handful Fresh Coriander.

For the Curry: 750g-1kg Diced Lamb Leg, 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter, 2 Tins Chopped Tomatoes, 250ml Vegetable Stock.

To Finish: Large Bag Spinach Washed, Handful Chopped Mint, Handful Chopped Coriander, Natural Yogurt, Lime Juice, Sea Salt, Black Pepper.

Method:

1) Make the spice blend by toasting all the spices in a dry pan until fragrant. Transfer to a spice blender and blitz to a fine powder (or use a pestle and mortar).

2) Make the curry paste by roughly chopping all of the ingredients. Add the ingredients to a food processor with the spice blend. Add a little water and blitz to form a purée.

3) Preheat the oven to 170C. In a casserole dish, fry the curry paste mixture in the butter over a medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the stock and tomatoes and bring to the boil. Transfer to the oven for 1 1/2 hours.

4) Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, brown the lamb in a little oil over a high heat. Add this to the sauce and return to the oven for around 1 1/2 hours until the lamb is tender.

5) To finish, add the spinach and to the curry and lime juice to taste, adjust the seasoning to taste. Return to the oven for 5 minutes then remove.

6) Top the curry with the chopped mint and coriander and a spoonful of yogurt.

Enjoy with Basmati or whole-grain rice and naan bread.

Aromatic Prawn Curry

Aromatic Prawn Curry

 

If you like your curry spicy – this is the one for you. A few bites in and I was holding back the tears! Yet the heat does not mask the wonderful aromatic flavours of this dish.

Fantastic with prawns, it would work equally as well with chicken or pork. I served this curry with a delicious cucumber relish – helping to curtail the heat a little!

Aromatic Prawn Curry
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the Paste: 5 Fresh Red Hot Chillies, 1 tbsp Corriander Seeds, 1 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds, 1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds, 1/2 tsp White Peppercorns, 1/2 tsp Grated Nutmeg, 1 tsp Sea Salt, 3 Chopped Shallots, 2 Garlic Cloves Chopped, 1 tbsp Fresh Ginger Chopped, 4-5 Lemongrass Core Chopped, Large Handful Coriander Leaves and Stems, 1 tsp Ground Turmeric.

For the Curry: 24 Raw Prawns, 250 ml Coconut Cream, 450ml Coconut Milk, 2 tsp Palm Sugar, 10 Cherry Tomatoes, 1 Onion Roughly Sliced, 2 Par-Boiled Potatoes Cut into Small Chunks.

Method:

1) First make the paste by placing all of the ingredients in a food processor and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water. Blitz for a few minutes until you achieve a fairly smooth paste. This can be stored in the fridge for a few days if required.

2) Place a large wok over a medium heat and fry the paste in a little sunflower oil for 2 minutes. Add the coconut cream and cook for a further 5 minutes – stirring continuously.

3) Turn the heat up high and add the coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and turn the heat back to medium. Add the onion and tomatoes. Cook for 4 minutes until tender.

4) Add the palm sugar, prawns and potato. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently until the prawns are fully cooked. Serve.

Fantastic with cucumber relish and jasmine rice.

Enjoy!

Lemon Macaroons

Lemon Macaroons

 

A trip to Paris and a visit to Ladurée has resulted in a love affair with Macaroons. Nothing would make me happier than scoffing a couple of the chewy wonders with mid-morning coffee – unfortunately I am far too impatient to make them at home.

So when I received a macaroon baking mat for Christmas it was quickly dispatched to Jane (the baker in the relationship) with instructions to make me some beautiful elevenses! I was not to be disappointed – these lemon macaroons are glorious!

Detailed below is the recipe for when using a silicon macaroon baking mat. If a traditionalist and using baking parchment there is no need to pre-heat the baking tray and the cooking time should be reduced by 4 minutes.

Lemon Macaroons
Makes 28 Whole Macaroons

Ingredients:

For the Macaroon Base: 185g Icing Sugar, 185g Ground Almonds, 2 Large Egg Whites, Yellow Food Colouring.

For the Meringue: 185g Caster Sugar, 2 tbsp Water, 2 Large Egg Whites, 1/2 tsp Lemon Juice.

For the Filling: Good Quality Lemon Curd.

Method:

1) Pre-heat the oven to 170C. Place the silicon baking mat on a baking tray in the middle of the oven to pre-heat.

2) Make the macaroon base: Combine the icing sugar, ground almonds and egg whites in a large bowl. Mix using an electric mixer until the mixture is smooth. Add around 20 drops of food colouring and mix briefly to combine. Set aside.

3) Make the meringue: Whisk the egg white and lemon juice with an electric mixer until you achieve firm peaks. Meanwhile make a syrup with the sugar and water by placing in a small saucepan and cooking over a high heat until the mixture reaches 120C. Lower the speed of the mixer and slowly pour the syrup into the egg white mixture, continuing to whisk for 2 minutes.

4) Combine the Mixtures: Take a little of the meringue mixture and combine with the macaroon base to loosen. Fold the remaining meringue mixture into the base, being careful not to knock too much air out.

5) Cook the Macaroons: Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a medium plain nozzle attached. Remove the baking tray from the oven. Pipe around 1/2 tbsp of mixture into each macaroon mould, covering the baking mat. Cook in the oven for 12 minutes. Once ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Once cooled remove from the mould and set aside on a cooling rack . Repeat this step until the macaroon mixture is exhausted.

6) Assemble the Macaroons: Sandwich two macaroon halves together with the lemon curd.

These taste even better the next day. Stored in the fridge they should last around 4 days.

Enjoy!

Cucumber Relish

Cucumber Relish

 

A spicy curry is the best thing to perk you up mid-winter! But I’m always craving something extra on the side to accompany the standard helping of rice – this cucumber relish is perfect! Its sweetness cuts through the heat of the curry whilst a little ginger and chilli ensures the spice of the curry isn’t diluted.

Wonderful with aromatic curries (recipe to follow), the dressing tastes brilliant when mingled with the spicy curry sauce.

Best made just before serving to keep the cucumber crunchy, it would also be great in an asian noodle salad.

Cucumber Relish
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 Small Cucumber
1 tbsp Grated Ginger
1/2 Long Red Chilli Finely Chopped
3 Shallots Finely Sliced
Large Handful Coriander Finely Chopped
4 tbsp White Wine Vinegar
4 tbsp Caster Sugar
Sea Salt

Method:

1) To make the dressing combine the vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Add 4 tbsp water and place on a medium heat. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 mins. Set aside to cool.

2) Prepare the cucumber. Slice in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Finely slice one half. Take the remaining half, slice it in half lengthways and slice thinly. Place in a large bowl.

3) Add the chilli, ginger, shallot and coriander to the cucumber.

4) Once the dressing has cooled combine with the cucumber mixture. Season to taste.

Enjoy!

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

 

French Onion Soup is an all time classic and when done well will rival any other soup. I have a long affinity with French onion soup and can remember watching mum ladling big bowlfuls at the table on lazy Sunday afternoons.

Originating in Lyon, the key to any good onion soup is the stock. Whilst the stock from a pot-au-feu is preferred, substituting homemade chicken or light beef stock or very good quality shop bought stock still renders great results when in a hurry.

When in the depths of winter I choose light beef stock over chicken stock – affording the soup extra depth and richness, I then substitute the latter in the warmer months. A small amount of french mustard perks things up a little!

Some choose to add flour to the onions at the beginning of cooking to thicken the stock. I believe this is an unnecessary step, the soup is sufficiently thick without the addition of flour. Comté cheese is best for topping the crouton; however, parmesan works well.

French Onion Soup
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1kg Onions
120g Unsalted Butter
1.5 litres Light Beef Stock (or stock from a pot-au-feu)
1 1/2 tsp French Mustard
3 Thin Slices Rustic Bread (Crusts Removed)
200g Comté or Parmesan Cheese
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

Method:

1) Slice the onions thinly. Sweat the onions over a low heat in a large pot with the butter for 30-45 minutes until lightly coloured and soft.

2) Add the stock and bring the soup to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 20 minutes. Add the french mustard and stir. Season to taste. Remove from the heat and set aside or keep warm until ready to serve.

3) Preheat your grill on high. Lightly toast the slices of bread under the grill. Remove and cut each slice in half.

4) Ladle the warm soup into bowls. Top each bowl with a crouton and sprinkle the crouton with the cheese. Grind some black pepper over each bowl.

5) Place the bowls under the grill for 2-4 minutes until the cheese melts and turns golden (be careful not to burn).

Enjoy!

Venison, Chestnuts, Cranberries

Venison, Chestnuts, Cranberries

 

Venison makes a wonderful weekend supper – whether you are cooking a casserole with haunch or shoulder or pan searing a piece of loin or fillet. Rich without overpowering it marries perfectly with winter and autumnal flavours.

Attempting to clear the cupboards after Christmas I have paired pan seared venison fillet with chestnut purée and spiced cranberry sauce, accompanied by grilled brussels sprouts and cherries, sautéed new potatoes and oven-dried cherry tomatoes.

This simple chestnut purée is very versatile and can be used with a variety of game and rich meats. The cranberry sauce will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge and is great on sandwiches – just don’t give too much to the kids (it contains a hefty amount of port)!

I give the recipes for my chestnut purée and cranberry sauce below which can be paired with pan seared venison (as above) or with any other game of your choosing.

Chestnut Purée & Cranberry Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the Purée: 250g Vac-Packed Chestnuts, 1/2 Pint Single Cream, 1/2 Pint Milk, 25g Unsalted Butter, Sea Salt

For the Cranberry Sauce: 175g Fresh Cranberries, 60g Caster Sugar, 1 Cinnamon Stick, Zest 1 Large Orange, 150ml Port

Method:

1) To make the chestnut purée – boil the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat until you achieve a Beurre Noisette (brown butter). Add the chestnuts and cover with the cream and milk.

2) Turn the heat down low and simmer the chestnuts for 10-15 minutes until tender. Transfer the mixture to food processor and blend until smooth.

3) Pass the purée through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Season with fresh sea salt to taste.

1) To make the cranberry sauce – simmer the cranberries with the sugar and a splash of cold water in a saucepan over a medium heat for 15 minutes until the cranberries have mostly broken down.

2) In a separate saucepan, reduce the port over a high heat with the cinnamon stick and orange zest until reduced by 2/3.

3) Add the port to the cranberry mixture.

The chestnut purée can be kept warm until ready to use or can be reheated.

Enjoy!