What I'm cooking and eating

Friday, 19 June 2015

Halloumi with chickpeas, mushrooms, tomatoes and noodles

On Monday, the Swan Whisperer and I went into Brixton to explore the new Pop Brixton that has opened where the ice-rink used to be, but as it was Monday, everything was firmly closed.  So we got our lunch from a street stall called Pots of Brixton, which was a jacket potato place.  The SW had a meat filling, but I chose the veggie one, which was halloumi, chickpeas, mushrooms and tomatoes.  So, of course, I had to try to recreate it at home, only with noodles instead of potatoes.

½ packet halloumi cheese, sliced, and each slice cut in half.
½ punnet mushrooms, sliced
4-5 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or the equivalent amount of dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked (which is what I used, as they are nicer)
Seasonings to taste
100 g rice noodles (this was too much - 75g would have been better)

Place the vegetables in a lidded pan with a little oil, and allow to cook in their own steam for about 10-15 minutes.  Do NOT do what I did and leave the heat too high so that it dries out - this would have been a lot nicer if I hadn't!

 Add the cooked chickpeas, and heat through.  Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet.
Meanwhile fry the halloumi on both sides (it doesn't need any oil) until golden.  
Mix everything together and serve.... as I said, it was lovely, but would have been nicer if it hadn't dried out a bit, and we really didn't need so many noodles.

Monday, 8 June 2015


Traditionally, of course, bubble and squeak is made with left over mashed potatoes and cabbage, maybe seasoned with onion, and fried.  But I didn't have any left-over vegetables - well, I do, actually, but neither potatoes nor cabbage - and I wanted this particularly to eat with Nurnberg sausages, which I thought it would complement nicely.  It did.

2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
3 medium potatoes, cut into small pieces
1/2 green cabbage (or less - the amount you would prepare for two of you, basically)
1 tbs cooking oil
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
Salt and pepper

Put everything into a large frying-pan and stir.  Cover, and reduce the heat.  Allow to cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve with sausages or bacon and eggs or something delicious like that.....

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Quick tomato and red pepper soup

1 onion
1 sweet red pepper
1 400g tin tomatoes
A few cherry tomatoes, if you have spare ones
1 small tin sweetcorn (optional)

Sweat the chopped onion, pepper and cherry tomatoes in a little cooking oil.  Add the tin of tomatoes and a full tin of water.  Season - I used salt, pepper, herbs, chilli sherry and a vegetable "stock pot".  Bring to the boil and simmer for ten minutes.

 Blend to the desired consistency and then, if liked, add a tin of sweetcorn.

This is nicest with a dollop of creme fraiche in it, but I didn't have any.... Tomorrow, perhaps....


Friday, 29 May 2015

Gran's extra-special macaroni cheese

My Boy ended up coming to tea today, so a quick change of plans - I had been going to make a butternut squash and mushroom risotto, but I know his favourite food ever is macaroni cheese.  So I thought I would introduce him to the version that his mother adored when she was a little girl, as I could make enough for 3 and then just pop his share under the grill while the cheese melted.  His verdict?  "I do like it, but it's not my absolute favourite.  That's the one they make at school!"

1 small onion, chopped
1 packet lardons
1 small tin sweet corn
1 tin tomatoes
1 heaped tsp flour
Pepper to taste
A little dry mustard powder, to taste (about ¼ tsp)
About 100 g Cheddar cheese, grated.
100-125 g macaroni-type pasta (depending on how many are eating it)

Put the onions and lardons into a pan, and allow to cook until the onion has softened.  Meanwhile, put the pasta on to boil according to the instructions on the packet.  Place the tin of tomatoes, the flour and the seasonings into a jug, and whizz with a stick blender until smooth (or use a regular blender).  Pour this mixture on to the top of the onions and lardons, and bring to the boil, stirring all the time, until it thickens.  Add the sweetcorn at some stage.  When it is boiling, turn off the heat and add half the grated cheese*, stirring until it melts.  Stir in the cooked pasta, top with the remaining grated cheese, and either put under the grill until the cheese bubbles, or, if you have let it sit for any length of time, shove it in a moderate oven for half an hour.

* My daughter's absolute favourite was if I topped it with a slice of bread made into breadcrumbs and mixed with the grated cheese, but the Boy is on record as saying he didn't think he'd like that.  And anyway, that really does need to be cooked in the oven, and time was slightly of the essence here!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Salmon Fried Rice

I forgot to take a photo of this before eating it, and I don't think a photo of my empty plate would quite have the same effect!  It was excellent.

2 salmon fillets
½ cup uncooked white or brown rice (125 ml by volume)
1 small red onion
2 cloves garlic
1 block frozen ginger (or similar amount of grated, fresh ginger, or even ½ tsp dried powder)
1 piece turmeric root (optional, but I had some to use up)
1 fresh chilli (if you don't have one, use dried or powder)
A large amount (I can't be more specific - a soup mugful?) of frozen peas, sweetcorn and broad beans.  You could, of course, substitute other vegetables - broccoli would be nice, or mangetout, or whatever you fancy.
2 eggs
Chinese seasonings of your choice (soya sauce, 5-spice powder, whatever else)

Cook your rice as you usually do. Meanwhile, stir-fry the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and turmeric root, if using, fresh vegetables if you're using them, and the frozen veg.  You can either fry the salmon in a separate pan, or cut it into chunks and stir-fry it with everything else, up to you.

Beat up the eggs with the seasoning, and add the cooked rice (you can cook this in advance, if you like - isn't it supposed to reduce the carb content? - but if you do, make very, very, very sure you chill it thoroughly and quickly) and eggs.  Stir until the eggs are cooked and everything is piping hot.  Serve at once, with chopsticks.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Inspired by......

For me, part of the point of recipes is that they can be a jumping-off point for your own dishes.  Unless I am seriously trying to re-create a dish, I tend not to follow recipes too slavishly, especially when it's something like stew or a curry that can, and should, be modified to suit your own tastes. 

So, anyway, the other day I read this recipe, for leek and feta croquettes.  I thought they sounded lovely, but I know from past, bitter experience, that if I try to roll things in breadcrumbs and fry them, they go all over the place and seriously don't look like what they are supposed to look like.  Probably because I rush them, but anyway.

And I had some butternut squash that wanted using up, and one of my favourite things to do with butternut squash is to mix it with feta and couscous in a tomato sauce.   And I had far too many leeks.... and found a packet of udon noodles in the cupboard.  And this was the result:

½ butternut squash, cut into chunks.
1 large leek, finely chopped
1 400 g tin tomatoes
2 tsp plain flour
1 tbs cooking oil
1 oz butter
½ packet feta cheese, crumbled
1 packed udon noodles

Put the squash, the leeks and the cooking oil into a frying-pan with a lid, and cook on a low heat, stirring fairly frequently, until the squash is soft and beginning to caramelise around the edges.  Whizz the tomatoes with the flour with a stick blender until smooth; season to taste.  In a separate saucepan, melt the butter, then add the tomato mixture and bring to the boil, stirring all the time.  Stir in the crumbled feta and pour over the leeks and squash.  Adjust seasoning.   Serve with the noodles which you have prepared according to the instructions on the packet (you can, of course, use another sort of noodles, or pasta, or whatever).

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Seville Orange Marmalade

You can scale this up, as you wish.  Each batch makes about 2½ kg, c. 5lbs of marmalade.  There are a couple of different ways of doing it, both a hassle, but worth it in the end.


1 1kg bag Seville oranges
1 kg preserving or granulated sugar
1 lemon
1 litre water (or less, depending which method you use).

First Method:

Place the whole fruit and the water in a pressure cooker, bring to pressure and cook for 20 minutes at high pressure.  Allow to cool.  When fruit is cool enough to handle (you can leave it overnight, of course), cut each piece in half, scoop out the insides and return them to the pan, and chop the peels very finely.  Boil the insides in the pan for 5 minutes, then strain to remove the pips.  Add the chopped peel and sugar, and proceed as below.

Second Method:

Cut fruit in half and juice it.  Measure the juice, and make up to 1 litre with water.  Boil the pips with some of this liquid (about 150 ml) for 5 minutes, and make up the jug to 1 litre again.  Strain the pips.  Meanwhile, you have been chopping the peels, which is a lot harder when they are not cooked, but you save time by not having to wait for it to cool once the pressure cooker has lost pressure.  Boil the chopped peel in the juice at high pressure for 20 minutes, allow to cool at room temperature, and then proceed.

Both Methods:

Put the sugar into a large pan and add the cooked fruit/water/juice mix.  Stirring all the time, heat gently until it comes to the boil, then allow to boil, stirring frequently, until setting point is reached, which you test on a plate you had previously put in the freezer.  "When it gels, it's jam" to quote Elizabeth Goudge.  Allow to sit for ten minutes, then stir, pot in glass jars which you have sterilised in a warm oven while all this has been going on, and seal.
This is two batches.  I'm wondering if it would be a best or worst of both worlds to cook the oranges after halving and juicing them, but before chopping.  One would still have to wait until they were cool enough to handle, though, which is a nuisance unless you cook them before you go to bed and finish off next day.  Still undecided about which method I prefer.....

For Susan Gerules.

Oh bum, just discovered I already posted this recipe back in 2012.... oh well.  I could delete this, I suppose, but I've written it now....