What's it all about?

What's it all about?

I love cooking, and more importantly, eating good food and I set up this blog to share my favourite recipes, links and ideas with my friends and family.

I am a home cook. Not a particularly distinguished or accomplished one, but someone who simply enjoys honest, fresh and delicious food. I don’t enjoy pretentious restaurants and 'over done' dishes- the kind that you are afraid touch to with your fork for fear of ruining them! And for this reason, every recipe you find here will be simple and open to interpretation. I also believe it’s important to put your own stamp on the food you make so please feel free to change things and substitute ingredients as you wish. Enjoy!

21 May 2014

Proper egg fried rice

Another simple yet delicious supper which, made this way, is surprisingly healthy. Nick was taught to make this by his friend Clem who is from Malaysia, and when it comes to authenticity that’s good enough for me!

If you want to serve it as a main course (as I often do) rather than an accompaniment to stirfries or a curry, you can add shredded pork or chicken, peas, shrimps, anything you fancy really.

One tip: make sure your wok is truly non-stick, that way hardly any oil is required and the washing up isn’t a complete bitch!

Ingredients (makes enough for three as a main course, four to five as a side dish)
  • 3 large free range eggs
  • Approximately 500-600gms cooked and cooled rice- made the day before if possible
  • 1 medium white onion finely chopped
  • 3 spring onions finely chopped
  • Approx 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • Approx 3 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

  1. Warm the oil in the wok over a medium heat. Add the white onion and sweat it for a few mins- you want it to soften not brown, so if it starts to catch, turn down the heat a little.
  2. Add the spring onion and fry for a further minute then add the rice and cook, stirring frequently for about five minutes. The rice needs to be piping hot.
  3. Stir in the soy and oyster sauces and mix well until all the rice is coated, then crack in the eggs.
  4. Keep stirring the mixture and scraping round the bottom of the pan. It will take about 3-4 minutes for the eggs to set- the rice will look dry once it’s ready.
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary by adding a little more soy or oyster sauce before serving.

20 May 2014

Sunshine smoothie

This glorious concoction of fruit and yoghurt felt right on Saturday morning. I drank it while sunning myself in the garden.

  • 1 very ripe mango
  • 1 small box of ripe strawberries
  • 6 tbsp low fat vanilla yoghurt (I used Rachel’s)
  • Small cup of good quality cloudy apple juice

  1. Stone and skin the mango, wash and chop the strawberries then blitz everything in a blender until there are no lumps left.
  2. Check for taste and consistency before serving- if the smoothie is too thick, add a little more juice, too tart add a little more yoghurt and so forth.

8 May 2014

Greek style salad

This is a regular fixture in my household come summer. It is especially good with barbeque food.

  • ½ a cucumber
  • Small bag of cherry tomatoes or tomatoes on the vine
  • Small pack of basil
  • ½ pack of feta
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • small red onion, finely sliced
  • Salt and pepper

  1. Chop the cucumber into small dice and place in a large salad bowl with the onion.
  2. Halve the tomatoes and add to the bowl with the torn up basil leaves.
  3. Crumble over the feta with your hands.
  4. Dress the salad with about 2-3tbsp of olive oil and season to taste.

Garlic mushroom and mascarpone tart

Another recipe from the Good Food stable and an excellent option of you have a vegetarian in the house.

  • 1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 525g family pack mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 250g tub of mascarpone
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • ¼ small pack parsley, leaves only, roughly chopped
  • 50g rocket

  1. Heat the oven to 220C. Unroll the pastry and, keeping it on its baking parchment, lay it on a baking sheet.
  2. Score a border around the pastry about 1.5cm in from the edge and bake it for 10-15 mins until puffy and lightly golden.
  3. While the pastry bakes, heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the mushrooms for 2-3 mins stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, season well and continue to cook until the mushrooms are wilted and there is no liquid left in the pan.
  4. Mix the mascarpone with the parsley and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Remove the pastry from the oven and carefully push down the risen centre. Spread over the mascarpone mixture, then spoon on the mushrooms. Bake for 2-3mins to melt the cheese then remove from the oven, scatter over the rocket and serve with a green salad.

6 May 2014

Slow-cooked smoky chilli

There was an excellent link in the Good Food newsletter last week- five nights of family suppers for £30 http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/five-nights-budget-suppers-four?cm_mmc=ExactTarget-_-email-_-Good-food-newsletter-387_2014_04_30-_-email&utm_medium=Email&utm_source=ExactTarget&utm_campaign=Good-food-newsletter-387_2014_04_30 which sounded spot on given the current climate of austerity on the home cooking front. The recipes looked lovely too, no scrimping on taste, and so I decided to put a few to the test.

Here is Good Food’s chunky chilli with a few twists of my own.

Ingredients, serves 4
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra if needed
  • 800g diced stewing beef
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 tbsp chipotle paste, depending on how spicy you like it
  • 400g can kidney beans in chilli sauce
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 pint of beef stock made with one stock cube
  • 2tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ small pack coriander, leaves only
  • Small pot of sour cream
  • Cooked rice, to serve
  • Optional- grated cheddar cheese to serve

  1. Preheat the oven to 130oC.
  2. Heat the oil in a large casserole to which you have a lid and cook the beef pieces for a few mins on each side until browned all over (you may have to do this in batches). Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Add the onion to the pan, with extra oil if needed, and cook until softened. Stir in the garlic, cumin and chipotle paste, and cook for 1 min.
  4. Add the beef back to the pan, sprinkle over the flour and stir until everything is well coated.
  5. Sieve the kidney beans, reserving the sauce. Add the chilli sauce, along with the chopped tomatoes and stock to the pan. Stir well, bring to a simmer, then cover the dish and bake in the oven for 3 hours.
  6. After this time, give the chilli a good stir, add the kidney beans, then cover and return to the oven for a further hour.
  7. When you are ready to serve the chilli, chop the coriander leaves and stir them through the sauce. Plate up the chilli with a generous serving of rice, a big dollop of cream and a handful of cheese on each helping. My husband also recommends crumbling over a handful of nachos, although I draw the line at putting crisps in my dinner. Try it if you’re feeling adventurous and very hungry.

30 April 2014

Chicken, leek and chestnut pie

This is a brilliant way to use up leftovers after a Sunday roast and it looks like you’ve put loads of effort in when actually, it’s very easy to make.

I made this pie for the first time in the days following Christmas when we had turkey and ham to use up (instead of chicken) and it went down a treat. Feel free to substitute any of the ingredients for whatever’s in your fridge, I’ve also added broccoli florets instead of the chestnuts before and mushrooms would work well too.

Serves 4, or 2 with leftovers for the next day

  • 1 pack of ready rolled butter puff pastry- I get frozen sometimes and defrost it before making the pie
  • Approximately 300gms leftover roast chicken or whatever meat you prefer to use
  • 2 large leeks, washed well and finely sliced
  • 100gms cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • ¾ pint of chicken stock made with one stock cubes
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tbsp crème fraiche
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 beaten egg

  1. Preheat the oven to 200oC. In a large saucepan or wok melt the butter, add the leeks and sweat them over a low heat for 10mins- you don’t want them to brown, just soften.
  2. Add the chicken and chestnuts. Sprinkle over the flour and stir well until it has coated all of the ingredients.
  3. Add the stock and bring to the boil, it should thicken up nicely thanks to the flour. Simmer gently for 5mins to get rid of the floury taste, then add the crème fraiche, thyme and season to taste.
  4. Pour the pie filling into a large, shallow oven proof dish. Unroll the pastry and lay it over the dish. Tuck the excess pastry in around the filling and cut a cross in the top to let the steam out.
  5. Brush the top of the pastry with the beaten egg and, if you’ve got a bit of pastry leftover, cut out some pleasing shapes and decorate the top.
  6. Bake the pie in the oven for about 40mins or until golden and puffed. Serve with piles of buttery mash and green beans.

29 April 2014

Tuna, borlotti and basil salad

This is a big, joyous throw-together of delicious ingredients which I break out every summer for lunch boxes. I think I originally had a proper recipe, one which came from a book, but many years have passed and this salad has evolved to suit my tastes and which ingredients I can remember when I hit Sainsburys.

The quantities given here make enough for three lunches. I make the salad in a big bowl then divide it into three separate plastic pots ready to be taken to work. I was a bit worried about the salad going soggy by day three at first. However, I think it actually gets better as the flavours mingle. See what you think.

  • 1 tin of borlotti or cannellini beans
  • 1 small can (120g) of tuna steak in brine
  • Approximately 100gms sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • Approximately 100gms green or black olives- I’ve found that some supermarkets sell little bags of herby olives with their antipasti- these are perfect
  • Approximately 1/3 of a large cucumber cut into small cubes
  • Zest and juice of ½ a lemon
  • Small bunch of basil finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2tbsp good quality olive oil

  1. Empty the beans into a sieve over the sink and give them a good rinse. Once they have drained put them into a large mixing bowl with the cucumber.
  2. Drain the tuna, break it up into small flakes with a fork and add it to the beans.
  3. Drain the tomatoes of their oil, chop them roughly along with the olives and add to the salad with the basil.
  4. Grate the lemon zest (use the finest grater blade) over the salad and squeeze over the juice. Add the oil along with a good pinch of salt and pepper and mix well. Serve.
P.s. it really doesn’t matter in which order you add the ingredients- just chuck it all in the bowl.

28 April 2014

Pork with ginger

This recipe requires a bit of preparation before you start cooking but don’t let that put you off. Once the ingredients are ready it only takes ten minutes and it’s a fantastic week night dinner. Because the meat is so lean and there’s hardly any oil involved, the dish is actually quite low in calories and the ginger is great if you’ve got a cold or are just recovering. 

If you’re feeling thrifty, buy a big pack of pork loin steaks from the supermarket (it’s cheaper that way) then freeze them in bags of two. All you have to do in the morning is take a pack out from the freezer and they’re ready to go when you get home. Also, if there’s just two of you eating, still make the full amount- the other 1-2 portions can be potted up and taken to work for lunches the following day.

Feeds four with moderate sized portions, three if you’re greedy like me

  • 2 pork loin steaks, fat removed and cut into thin slices- about 2-3mm thick
  • 1 small onion sliced finely into half moons
  • 4 spring onions finely sliced
  • 1 pack of chestnut mushrooms washed and finely sliced
  • A large thumb sized piece of ginger, skinned and chopped into matchsticks
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely sliced
  • 200ml chicken stock made with one stock cube
  • 3tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1tbsp sesame oil
  • Enough rice for 3-4 people

  1. Put the rice on to cook and prepare all of your meat and veg.
  2. After about 10mins of the rice bubbling away, put a large wok on to your largest hob to heat up- it needs to be screaming hot before you add the oil so be patient.
  3. After about 3 mins or when you have reached the limits of your bravery, pour the oil into the wok, add the pork and stirfry hard for 2-3mins or until the pork has browned. Be careful, it will spit.
  4. Add the garlic, both types of onion and ginger and stirfry for a further 2 mins. Add the mushrooms and keep stirring until they start to wilt down.
  5. Add the stock and oyster sauce and allow the sauce to reduce slightly- no more than 2 mins.
  6. Your rice should be ready by now so serve it up and top with the stirfry. Guzzle.

22 April 2014

Warm spinach salad with feta and roasted tomatoes

I arrived back in the UK last week following a two-week jaunt to Thailand. The bank holiday seemed like the perfect excuse to do a BBQ and catch up with friends and family. I asked my mum to bring a salad and this is what she made. Simple but very effective.

  • 4-5 handfuls of raw baby spinach leaves
  • 4 whole garlic cloves
  • 2 red peppers halved and deseeded
  • 1 pack feta cheese (or any other kind of goats cheese you fancy)
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes on the vine
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 200oC. Place the pepper halves on a baking tray. Place the garlic cloves inside the peppers (keep the skins on the cloves), drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper then bake for about 25mins. After this time, place the tomato vines on top of the peppers and bake for a further 10mins.
  2. Remove the tray from the oven and allow the peppers and tomatoes to cool for a few minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, wash the spinach leaves, dry well and put them into a nice salad bowl. Remove the feta from its packet and crumble it over the leaves.
  4. Cut the peppers into strips and place them on top of the spinach. Squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins (they should be soft and juicy) and add them to the salad.
  5. Drizzle over the salad about 2tbsp of olive oil and 1-2tbsp of balsamic vinegar depending on your taste (I like more but some prefer less). Mix carefully with your hands so that all of the ingredients are dressed.
  6. Place the tomatoes still on their vines on top of the salad. Grind over a little black pepper and serve.

29 March 2014

Eggs benedict

This is one of my favourite meals. When eggs benedict is done right it is oh so good. Done bad, it’s bloody awful.

It takes a little while to make but it's well worth it. Nick was working this morning so I decided to treat myself and make a feast for breakfast, which I then gobbled with a hot cup of tea while sitting out in the early morning sunshine. Bliss.

Breakfast or brunch for one greedy person


For the hollandaise sauce
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1tsp white wine vinegar
  • 60gms butter melted
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper
For the rest
  • 2 eggs (I like Cotswold Legbar ones that come in a blue box from Sainsburys. They’re much tastiest that the normal ones and the yolks are such a dark orange they’re almost red)
  • 1 English muffin split in half
  • Butter to spread on the crumpet
  • 4 slices good quality ham
  • 2-3 chives to snip over the top

  1. Make the hollandaise first. Put the vinegar and egg yolks into a small heatproof bowl that will fit snugly on top of a saucepan with an inch of water in the bottom. The bottom of the bowl must not touch the water.
  2. Bring the water to a gentle simmer, place the bowl on top and start whisking briskly. Keep doing this while very gradually adding the melted butter and whisk for 5 mins continuously or until the sauce is thick. Beware of overheating the sauce- if it looks like it’s going to split, remove the bowl from the pan and whisk hard off the heat for a minute.
  3. Once thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, stir in the salt and pepper then take the sauce off of the heat and cover with a tea towel to keep warm.
  4. Bring another large saucepan of water to a rolling boil, stir fast in a circle to create a whirlpool in the water then slip the two whole eggs in to poach. Keep an eye on the pan so that it doesn’t boil over. The eggs will take about 3 mins to cook with a runny yolk, 4 if you like them set.
  5. Meanwhile, put the muffin halves into toast. Once done, butter lightly and pile two slices of ham on each side. Use a slotted spoon to remove the poached eggs from the water, drain well and place on top of the ham.
  6. Pour over the hollandaise, snip over the chives and devour.