What I'm cooking and eating

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Stuffed vegetables

Returning  from a weekend in Sussex, I was loaded down with produce from my mother's and my brother's gardens, including an overgrown courgette and a very large onion.  Which both, obviously, lent themselves to stuffing. And after a bit of thought and research, I came up with this:

For the filling:

1/2 cup by volume bulghur wheat, soaked in 1 cup by volume boiling water
The inside of the onion, chopped (or, if you are stuffing a pepper, for instance, use a small onion or shallot, and peel and chop it)
A couple of tomatoes, peeled and chopped
A few olives, cut in half (either green or black, but I think black works best)
A sloosh of tomato paste
1/2 pack feta cheese, cubed

Vegetables to stuff - a large onion, cut in half, or vegetable marrow/overgrown courgette with the seeds removed, or a hollowed-out butternut squash (you stuff the hollow where the seeds were), or sweet peppers.... whatever, really.

Fry the chopped onions in a little oil until they are transparent, then add the tomatoes and allow to cook for another few minutes.  Then add the rest of the ingredients, and season to taste (I used pomegranate molasses, ras el hanout, sumac and dried parsley.  But you can use whatever you like.

Transfer the stuffing into the hollow of the vegetables
 and bake in a hottish oven for about an hour, until the base vegetables are cooked. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Noodles and - noodles!

I recently treated myself to a spiralizer - it was a special deal on Amazon, reduced to £10, rude not to, really.  I've been wanting one for ages.

But you know me, I'm not one to eat chopped-up cauliflower and pretend it's rice, or chopped-up courgettes and pretend it's pasta, but what's wrong with mixing them?  So, as I wanted to try to play with the spiralizer, I thought I'd make some vegetable "noodles" and then some home-made ones, and serve them with a bacon, mushroom, tomato and sweetcorn sauce.

Well, it took some experimenting, and I ended up "sharpening" one of the courgettes, but by the time I'd got to the butternut squash, I'd worked out what to do.
I was really rather impressed with myself!

So that was two small courgettes and a chunk of butternut, more-or-less successfully spiralised.

For the sauce:
1 packet lardons (bacon bits), ideally unsmoked
1/2 punnet mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
1 packet passata (or a tin of crushed tomatoes)
1 small tin sweetcorn
Season with pepper and maybe some chilli sherry - it doesn't need salt.

Fry the bacon until it renders, then add the sliced mushrooms and crushed garlic.  When the mushrooms collapse, add the rest of the ingredients and leave to simmer while you prepare the various noodles.

1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 egg
enough water to make a stiff paste
(if you add too much, add more flour)
Mix to a dough, then press through the larger holes of a potato ricer into a saucepan of boiling salted water. 
In a wok, heat some oil and add the vegetable noodles, stirring all the time.  When the flour noodles come to the boil, allow to cook for one minute and then drain, and add to the rest of the noodles. 
Continue to stir-fry for another minute or two, then divide into two plates and put the sauce on top.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Oeufs Florentine

I am not at all sure this is the correct way to cook oeufs florentine.  In fact, it probably isn't - but who cares, because it's very quick and very easy.  I had planned to take a photograph when I had served it, but it flipped over and all you could see was an unpretty mound of spinach!

I never used to like spinach when I was a child, but I think that, rather like kale, modern cultivars are milder in taste.  But even though it must be fifteen years or so since I discovered that actually, it was edible, I was still a bit wary of it as it seemed to have a taste that overwhelmed everything else on the plate, rather like coriander can if you use too much.  But the baby spinach, sold for use in salads, is also very mild when cooked - yes, it tastes like spinach, of course, and if you don't like that you won't like it, but it doesn't dominate or overpower.  My brother, who has always liked spinach, says he just snips the corner of the bag and shoves the lot in the microwave!  But don't do that if you aren't sure that the spinach has been washed, or it's a good way to get a mouthful of grit!  And, of course, it is also lovely raw, in a salad or sandwich.

1 dollop of butter (about 20g - what Americans would call a teaspoonful, I suppose)
1 large handful baby spinach, washed if necessary
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a small saucepan - a milk saucepan is ideal - and put the spinach on the top.  Allow it to cook for a minute or two, and stir vigorously to make sure all of it wilts and cooks.  Now lower the heat and break and egg on the top, leaving this to cook (cover the pan, if possible) for several minutes until the white is firm and the yolk as firm as you like it.

Serve on (ideally) a toasted muffin or a slice of toast.  Or not, if you're being low-carb and can digest an egg without bread....

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Cheese and onion flatbreads

This is still slightly a work in progress, so no photos - they didn't really work tonight!  I know what I did wrong - I added all the water at once, as I would had I been going to make the dough in a bread machine, when really, I should have added it bit by bit.

1/2 packet (250 g) cheese and onion bread mix
up to 160 ml warm water

Put the bread mix into a bowl and add the water, working it all the time (a hand mixer with dough hooks is a plan, or use the dough hook on your food processor, if it has one, but you can do it by hand if you wish) until it is smooth and non-sticky.  Let it sit for about 30 minutes, until it has risen a bit. 

Knock it back, and roll it out as thin as possible on a floured board.  Cut in half (or thirds, or quarters, but this amount is ideal for two) and heat a little sunflower oil in a frying pan.  Add the flat bread and cook for a minute or two on each side, as hot as possible.  Then cook the second/subsequent ones in the same way.  Serve at once.  

Monday, 9 May 2016


Well, it's sort of a hash, and it contains fish, so.....

2 white fish fillets (if frozen, thawed as much as necessary to cut into bite-sized chunks)
Additional fish - shrimps or prawns, if liked, or crayfish tails, or, as here, squid rings (just a handful).
1 onion, chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
A sensible amount of cabbage, chopped
I added 1/2 green pepper, as I had it in the fridge and it wanted using.
Seasoning, to taste
A little cooking oil

Put the cooking oil into a large sauté dish or casserole and add the vegetables.  Season, and cook on a low heat, covered, until the potatoes are soft (the other veg will be cooked by then, too).  Then add the fish, raise the heat slightly and cook for another couple of minutes until the fish is cooked through.  Serves 2.

This might have been nice with sweet chilli sauce, but I couldn't be bothered to go and find any...

Friday, 6 May 2016

Pasta au Nicholas

I do fail as a food blogger - I forgot, once again, to take a photo of my dinner before I ate it, and nor did I think to take a photo of that which inspired this meal.

My younger grandson and I were at the parent and toddler group we frequent most weeks, and he decided to "feed" me from the toy kitchen.  With the selection of toy food he brought over, we decided that a meal of pasta, mushrooms, garlic  and grated cheese would be delicious - and so it proved!  So, in his honour, I have named this dish "Pasta au Nicholas".  Serves 2.

100 g pasta (I used dischetti, the original "toy" pasta was farfalle)
 A dollop of butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 punnet mushrooms, halved
1/2 tbs creme fraiche
Sprinkle dried parsley
2 tbs grated cheese (I used Emmenthal, but Parmesan or Cheddar would be fine, too).

Melt the butter, and add the crushed garlic and halved mushrooms.  Stir, then cover, and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes, while you cook the pasta.  When it is cooked, drain it and add the remaining ingredients.  Season to taste, and eat at once.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

St Patrick's Day Casserole

Drat it, I keep forgetting to take photos of what I cook until all there is left is an empty plate....

The American-Irish may eat corned beef and cabbage on St Patrick's Day, but the Irish at home traditionally ate bacon - this turned out to be either unobtainable or desperately expensive when they arrived in New York, so they turned to beef as a good second-best, and now have forgotten they ever ate anything else! 

But here it is bacon, and this is my take on the tradition.  As I said to the Swan Whisperer, I could have just served grilled rashers alongside steamed potato and cabbage, but I thought this would be tastier - and it was!  Enough for 2.

1 packet lardons
1 onion
5 small potatoes
¼ green Savoy-type cabbage

Cook the lardons gently until the juice and fat run, then add the rest of the vegetables which you have peeled, chopped and shredded, as appropriate (leave the potatoes in dice, chop the onions and shred the cabbage).  Season with pepper - it does not need extra salt - and stir several times while you leave it to cook on a gentle heat for about 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked.