Thursday, 24 June 2010

Frittata, Pizza, Quick Pizza, Apple Cake, Meze

Well, the strangest thing happened this week.  I was invited for lunch at my friend Jen's house, and she cooked one of my recipes for me!  She cooked my Fritatta (May 2010) and it was delicious.  You know how it is; food that someone else has cooked usually tastes better than your own!  Thanks Jen!  The pic is a little steamy......

So, after a lack of inspiration, suddenly I seem to have cooked lots this week.  We love Pizza and I have developed a dough recipe that is easy and lovely.  It is very freezable, especially if you roll it out, spread with some tomato sauce and then bake for 5 minutes to 'set' it.
I have also included my 'instant' pizza recipe, using tortillas for the base.  Just Fill, Grill and Go!
I baked an apple cake this week too from Healthy Baby and Toddler Foods by Amanda Grant, a very useful book for alternatives to meat.  The cake used to be Barney's favourite..... yes, you've guessed it, he has now decided that he doesn't like it any more!  Ahhhhh!  It is a great way to use up those apples left in the fruit bowl, and is very portable for picnics.
Another good supper came about by accident.  I actually managed to have the ingredients for a Meze in the fridge!  Cold potatoes with mayonnaise, houmous, taramasalata, olives, roasted vegetables and some toasted pittas - hurrah!  (anyone know what hurrah is in Turkish or Greek?!).  I had lunch at the Jolly Farmers pub in Buckland, Surrey on Monday and they had a platter with delicious sauces like houmous and red pepper sauce, and a lovely little dish of marinaded feta cheese with chives, so I tried to make that myself.  See what you think.
And last but not least, tomato soup.  I had some tomatoes which were past their best in the bottom of the fridge and decided to make them into tomato soup.  Mm mm.
Pizza  (makes about 5)

500g strong white bread flour
12g fast-acting dried yeast
12g salt
300ml hand-hot water

Jar of tomato pasta sauce
Mozzarella x 2
Tuna, capers, olives, mushrooms, etc.

Mix all together to form a dough.  Knead (pull, push, fold) for about 3 minutes on a lightly floured surface, until smooth and mixed.
Now you can leave this to rise for about 20 minutes, or use it straight away.
Either way, flour your surface again and tip the dough out.  Divide into the desired pieces (4-5).  We always try to leave some to make dough-balls too.
Roll the dough into the shape you want, either thin and crispy or thicker and more deep-pan.  Place on an oiled baking tray and add the toppings you like.  I use a jar of pasta sauce for speed spread very thinly, mozzarella sliced thinly, tuna, capers, olives, pepperoni, whatever you like. 
Bake in a hot oven (210 degrees/Gas Mark 7-8) for about 10 minutes or until the mozzarella is bubbling.
For the Dough Balls, cut the piece of dough into rough shapes and place on an oiled baking tray.  Bake alongside the pizzas.  Drizzle some garlic butter or butter over them and eat!

Instant Pizzas

Tortilla wraps (as many as you need)
Tomato sauce
Mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly
Other topping that don't need much cooking

Simply heat your grill.  Spread the tomato on to the tortilla, add the toppings and grill until the mozzarella is melted.  Watch them all the time because the tortillas burn easily!

Apple Cake

310g self-raising flour
180g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp all-spice
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
115g butter
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250ml milk
1 egg
2-3 eating apples (no need to peel)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/Gas Mark 4.
In a bowl or a food processor, sift the flour, sugar and spices together.  Rub in the butter.  Spread half of this mixture into a greased 20cm square cake tin.  Pat down evenly.
Dissolve the bicarb. in the milk.  Add the beaten egg and some chopped apple and add all of it to the remaining flour mixture.  Combine well and pour into the tin.  Slice the apples, then arrange on top and bake for 45 minutes until golden.  Carefully, cut into slices.


Houmous (mine was shop-bought!)
Taramasalata (ditto!)
Cold, cooked potatoes, sliced and mixed with mayonnaise and capers
Cold roasted Mediterranean vegetables (courgette, aubergine, peppers, mushrooms, sweet potato cut into cubes and roasted in olive oil and garlic for about 30 mins)
Feta cheese, cut into cubes, dowsed in olive oil and mixed with chopped chives and pepper.
Pitta bread, toasted and cut into fingers

Tomato Soup

A knob of butter
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp celery salt or a stick of celery, chopped
8 tomatoes or a 400g tin
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
150ml vegetable stock

In a medium saucepan, cook the onion and garlic in the butter until soft.  Add the celery salt or celery, tomatoes, ketchup and stock and simmer for 15 minutes.  Whizz in a blender until smooth, then season to taste.
Better than a can!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Spaghetti with Prawns, Lasagne and Chocolate Brownies

Well, another very hectic week here in Dorking!  I always forget how busy the summer term is, what with cricket seemingly every night of the week and swimming and May Queen festivals and Prize Days, the list goes on!  My ability to cook every night is somewhat diminished, but here are a couple of quick and easy recipes to keep you going.  I made some brownies last weekend and my friend, Beth, requested the recipe - Happy Cooking!

Spaghetti with Prawns

2 red chillies, remove the seeds
2 cloves garlic
400g spaghetti
olive oil
12 large prawns preferably raw
a knob of butter
a large handful of rocket
1 lemon, juiced

Using a pestle and mortar, crush the chilli and garlic with a pinch of salt.
Cook the pasta until al dente, 8 minutes for spaghetti.
Meanwhile, heat 4 tbsp of oil over a high heat.  Fry the chilli paste for 30 seconds then add the prawns and cook for 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter, a handful of rocket, lemon juice and the pasta.  Toss to mix and serve with extra rocket on top.

Easy Lasagne

1 box lasagne sheets
Olive oil
1 onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
Splash of red wine
400g tin tomatoes
Some fresh herbs
500g creme fraiche (I use half-fat)
3 handfuls of finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus some for the top
1-2 balls of mozzarella, diced

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/Gas Mark 7.  Fry the onion in 2 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan until soft.  Add the garlic, stir, then add the red wine.  Cook for 2 minutes until the liquid is reduced.  Add the tomatoes and herbs and season well.  Simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, tip the creme fraiche into a bowl and add the Parmesan and lots of seasoning.
When the tomato sauce is done, put two spoonfuls into the base of a shallow oven dish and place three sheets of lasagne on top.  Spread a quarter of the tomato over and then some dollops of the creme fraiche.  Sprinkle some mozzarella over.  Repeat these layers, making sure you keep a little of the creme fraiche sauce for the top.  Spread the remaining sauce over the lasagne sheets, right to the edges.  Sprinkle over some Parmesan and any mozzarella left and bake for 35 minutes until oozing and crispy on the top.

Everyday Chocolate Brownies (from Brownies and Bars by Liz Franklin)

250g butter
500g caster sugar
100g cocoa powder
4 eggs, beaten
100g self-raising flour (use wholewheat to even out your energy levels)

Melt the butter, caster sugar and cocoa in a large saucepan.  Add the eggs and beat to mix well.  Add the flour and mix.  Tip into a baking tin 20x25cm or so, lined with parchment paper, and bake for 35 minutes at 180 degrees/Gas Mark 4.  Allow to cool, if you can, and cut into squares.  Dust with icing sugar for a professional effect!
These keep in a tin for at least 3 days, and even then are just a little dry around the edges and perfectly acceptable.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Vegetable Curry, Stuffed Tomatoes and Sticky Chicken

I succumbed to Football Mania this weekend..... or at least, had some people round for the lads to watch it and the ladies to sit and chat!  I made some curries and bought some from Waitrose because it was the Crowning of the May Queen at Jolie's school that morning, so the whole day was rather hectic.  In fact, I don't think I have recovered yet, because Sunday was Jake's birthday party!  Phew!
Anyway, here is my Veggie Curry recipe, which went down very well, and I had a request to include it here (thanks Jane!).  Tonight, I couldn't decide what to do, so I threw some chicken thighs in the oven covered with BBQ sauce and, Voila!, Sticky Chicken.  The children wolfed it down, which makes a change.  I was so fed up the other day that I was going to post the fact that Jolie only really eats chocolate, pesto pasta and roast potatoes.... no wonder she is a skinny-biffer!
And then we have Stuffed Tomatoes.  My friend (another Jane) is cutting down on the amount of wheat she eats because she feels so much better.  It made me realise just how much I consume, and think that I 'need', so I tried some quinoa (pron: keenwah) in some lovely, beefy tomatoes that were perfectly ripe for a change.  Lovely.
Have fun!

Vegetable Curry (forgot to take a pic!)

4 cooked potatoes, diced
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 a cauliflower, broken into florets
2 tbs oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tbs curry paste (I love Bart's Veeraswamy Gujarat Masala paste, from any supermarket)
1 courgette, sliced
1 tin tomatoes
4 tbs double cream

Boil the carrots and cauliflower for 5 minutes, until tender but still with some bite, and drain.
Fry the onion in the oil until soft.  Add the curry paste and stir. 
Add the cooked vegetables, the courgette and the tomatoes and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add some seasoning.  Stir in the cream right at the last minute and serve with rice.

Sticky Chicken

Chicken thighs
HP Original BBQ Sauce (Classic Woodsmoke Flavour)

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees/Gas Mark 8.  Slash the thighs a couple of times and smother in a dollop of sauce each.  Then bake in the oven for 35 mins until sticky and caramelised. 

Stuffed Tomatoes

1/2 a red onion, chopped
1 tbs olive oil
1 courgette, finely diced 
6 mushrooms, finely chopped
Handful of fresh herbs: chives, sage, oregano
3 slices of halloumi cheese, diced
1 cup of quinoia (or basmati rice)
4 large beef tomatoes
4 slices of Emmental cheese

Tip the quinoia into a saucepan and add 2 cups of boiling water.  Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes and drain.  
Meanwhile, fry the onion in the oil until soft, then add the courgette and mushrooms.  Stir until starting to soften, then add the herbs, halloumi and a good pinch of salt and pepper.
Add the quinoia and mix well.
Cut a 'lid' off each tomato, scrape out the seeds and pulp.  Fill each one with a good helping of the quinoia mixture, place a slice of cheese on top and bake in a hot oven (220 degrees/Gas Mark 8) for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft.  Lovely!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Home-made Ravioli, Cherry Buns, Turkish Beans and Frittata

I don't cook for a while, and then I cook everything at once!  Had a very hectic weekend just gone with my friend Gill's new shop opening on Saturday - the Fluffatorium in West Street in Dorking.  She is dealing with all things fluffy, is an expert felt-maker and felt-artist and is also stocking knitting yarn.  I am the knitting coach so sign up for some blissful time, click-clacking and eating cup-cakes with me!  Knitting is peaceful, calming and allows you time for inspiration to seep into your otherwise hectic mind (it is for me, anyway).  It is a meditation without having to get into the lotus postion and light incense sticks!  Check out her website at

Cooked a few things this week, although I lost the plot tonight and used up some beefburgers, new potatoes and peas for the children!  I made a frittata for myself, using up bits and pieces from the fridge.  Frittatas are great because they are wonderful hot or cold, so ideal for the next day's lunch-box, or for a picnic.  Try this recipe, and you won't look back......
Then, I have been trying to reduce the amount of sugar my kids are eating, and haven't had biscuits or cakes in the house.  It's done a world of good, to me if no-one else!  But they have just finished a week of exams, so I baked some Cherry Buns for when they came home.  So comforting and lovely, they remind me of when I was small, sitting on a stile, having a break from walking with Mrs. Shelton and Steven her nephew on a Saturday afternoon.  Lovely!


1 onion, chopped
1 tbs oil
1/2 a courgette, coarsely grated
1/2 a carrot, finely grated
a handful of pine-nuts
a cup of peas, preferably defrosted, but ok frozen (or spinach)
5 eggs, beaten in a jug
a splash of double cream
a grating of cheese (I used emmental)

Fry the onion in the oil in a frying pan about 25-27cm across.  When soft, add the grated courgette, stir for a couple of minutes.  Sprinkle the carrot evenly across the pan, then sprinkle on the peas and pine-nuts.  Pour the egg mixture over, pushing the ingredients down a little and season generously.  Leave to cook over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes.  Preheat the grill.  Grate some cheese over the surface of the frittata and grill until the top is beginning to turn golden-brown.  Serve with the Turkish Beans below.

Turkish Beans

This recipe came with my organic veg. box this week (, along with some flat green beans.  You can try it with any kind of green bean, especially when you have a glut of runners later in the year!  I have lost the recipe, but this is the gist of it.

1 onion, chopped
25ml olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
100ml stock
400g green beans, cut to fit your saucepan
1 tbs sugar (do put this in, it makes all the difference)

Fry the onion in a saucepan with the olive oil until soft.  Add the garlic and stir, then add the tomatoes, stock, beans and sugar.  Bring to a simmer and 3/4 cover.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Season to taste.  This dish should really be kept in the fridge overnight and served cool.

Cherry Buns

125g soft butter
125g caster sugar
125g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 a tub of un-dyed (what is that about?) glace cherries

Process all but the cherries together until smooth.  Cut the cherries into quarters, place into the processor and whizz for 10 seconds to mix.  Spoon the mixture into 12 cake cases and bake at 180 degrees/Gas Mark 4 for 15-18 minutes.  Eat as soon as they are cool enough to handle, or leave to cool!

I will post Home-made Ravioli tomorrow!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Leek and Vegetable Soup and Cheesy Dampers

Just spent the night camping with my lovely friends in Michelle's paddock.  Spent a lovely evening around the campfire, with marshmallows and damper bread on sticks - takes me back to Guide Camp and making out tea over an open fire, so blissful!

So, home again with a glut of vegetables and several bags of marshmallows later, I need some nutrition!  Aha, Leek and Vegetable Soup, with leftover damper bread dough, to which I added cheese.  I will give you my verdict later!  I think people are afraid of soup - for no reason atall.  It is so simple to create and full of vital nutritious ingredients, which you can enhance by adding lentils, or bacon, or chicken or whatever you have in the 'fridge really.  Have a go and you will see how lovely and spirit warming a bowl of your own soup can be.

Leek and Vegetable Soup

4 medium leeks, sliced and washed
a knob of butter
2 carrots, cubed
a head of broccoli, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 potatoes, cubed (I don't always peel them)
Enough stock to cover the vegetables
Seasoning and as many fresh herbs as you can get

Fry the leeks in the butter in a large saucepan, until they are soft and golden - about 8 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes.  Taste for seasoning, add the herbs and puree if desired.  Add a swirl of cream or milk to bring the soup to your favourite consistency.

Cheesy Damper Bread

300g self-raising flour
a pinch of salt
50ml water
a good grating of cheese (about 35 grates)

Mix all together, adding water little by little until the dough comes together.  You don't want it to be too sticky.  Tear small handfuls off and form into rounds.  Flatten slightly and place on a baking tray.  Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown.  Eat immediately with a bowl of soup.

Alternatively, find a clean stick and wrap the dough firmly around the end.  Hold over the embers until crusted all over.  Remove from the stick and eat with lashings of cold butter!