Monthly Archives: January 2012

Monday night pasta

Monday night pasta

Monday nights always seem hard. On this particular Monday, grocery shopping wasn’t appealing and I wanted quick, delicious pasta. Success! I grabbed things from cupboards: can of tuna, can of tomatoes, kalamata olives. All good things. I used slowly cooked onions with some red pepper to give some sweetness and chili flakes to give warmth. Rather delicious and I think this would be perfect hangover food, too. Will keep you posted on that one.

Monday Night Pasta serves 4

2T olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 red pepper, roughly chopped

1 can chopped tomatoes

1/2 glass red wine

1T tomato paste

1tsp sugar or honey

2tsp dried oregano

1 regular can tuna in olive oil, drained

1/2 cup or more of kalamata olives, pitted if you fancy

1/2 tsp chili flakes, add more if you like heat

400g dried pasta shapes

Heat olive oil in a deep frying pan, add onion and cook slowly over a low heat. Do not let the onion brown, you want it sweet and soft, add a pinch of salt to help this says Nigella (it works!). Cook for at least 5 mins, preferably a bit longer. Add red pepper and cook for a couple of minutes before adding tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, sugar or honey (helps to bring out the flavour of the tomatoes), oregano and olives. Simmer over a low heat until the sauce has reduced and is jammy. Add chili flakes about halfway through cooking time. Season to taste.

In the meantime cook your pasta according to packet directions in plenty of salted water, drain. Return to pot and stir in the sauce. Serve with a crisp green salad.

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Summertime Saladtime!

Poached chicken salas


The other evening it got deliciously warm. One of those evenings which makes you think that summer has finally come to this windy city, time passing languidly, barely a breeze and all you can do is lounge in the sun. This called for salad and a light one at that. So, my sister and I pulled out piles of cookbooks and sat down to read through them, it felt very luxurious for some reason.

This salad is a combination of a Bill Granger Salad with an Annabel Langbein dressing and it fitted well with our mood. I’ve never been a huge fan of chicken and having only recently jumped back on the meat eating band wagon, I’m ready to try new things. Poached chicken for some reason has always seemed to me to be a bland thing, but this recipe has completely changed my mind. You really get the flavour of the chicken and a very delicate hint of the spicy black peppercorns and spring onions used to flavour the poaching broth. I am now a complete convert, we felt that poaching chicken was an elegant way to cook the chicken (use free range!) and it went so well with the crispy vegetables and the spicy, sweet, sour dressing. Kaffir lime leaves in the dressing give it a heavenly perfume, cannot wait to include them in more dishes.


Poached Chicken Summer Salad (from Simply Bill Granger and Annabel Langbein’s The Free Range Cook)

Dressing (also a good dipping sauce)

Combine 3tsp finely grated lemongrass, 1/2 cup sweet chilli sauce, 1/4 cup water, 2T fish sauce,  2 (I used 3) kaffir lime leaves, finely grated zest of 1 lime, 2T lime juice, 2 cloves crushed garlic and 2T freshly minced ginger. Taste and adjust seasoning, should have a balance of flavours.



1T black peppercorns

2 spring onions, roughly chopped

2T sea salt

2 chicken breasts

375g fresh egg noodles (we used dried)

6 spring onions, julienned

200g edamame beans, podded (buy frozen from asian supermarkets, then simply pop the required amount in the microwave and blast 30secs at a time til thawed. Then you can easily pop them out of their shells- fun!)

2 celery stalks, sliced diagonally

2 lebanese cucumbers, finely sliced (or about a third of a telegraph cucumber)

2 teaspoons of sesame seeds

Put the peppercorns, chopped spring onions and salt in a large saucepan, fill with cold water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Add the chicken breasts and stir. Remove from heat, cover with a tight fitting lid and leave to poach for an hour. After an hour, shred the chicken.

Cook noodles according to packet. Drain and pour cold water over them to refresh them, drain again. Return to pot and drizzle with a little sesame oil and about half of the dressing to stop them sticking together and to give them some more flavour. Arrange on a plate, then lay the chicken and vegetables on top, drizzle the remaining dressing over and sprinkle with sesame seeds.


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Mackintosh Sauce

Reader beware, you’re in for a………….. SCARILY DELECTABLE SAUCE.

Seriously, people this is a whiskey caramel sauce, now try and keep your hands off it. The name comes from my sister saying that it tastes like Mackintosh toffees and, well, it does. It’s pretty simple, too, and it was like choc-wizz but toffee flavoured.

Whiskey Caramel Sauce (Based on this from Always with butter)

1 Cup water

2 Cup sugar

1 Cup cream

1 large-ish knob of butter

1 splash of whiskey

Place water in a medium saucepan. Carefully pour sugar into the centre. Cook over a low heat without stirring until the sugar has dissolved. When all sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat and cook for 20-30 minutes until a golden brown colour is achieved. Then add cream a little at a time cos it goes whoosh, fizz, bubble but stand your ground it will be ok! Whisk while adding the cream, then add butter and whiskey. Do let the sauce cool for a while before eating, sugar is very, very hot.

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Bad Day Risotto

I made this risotto last week after a particularly bad day. All that stirring is good for  working out stress and frustration. It helped, lots. Particularly with a crisp, cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc haha!


I took the recipe from a cookbook written by a teenager complete with shots of him chilling with the lads and date nights (oooo!). It’s Sam Stern’s Real Food Real Fast and it’s a good wee book to have for quick dinners and would be good for students, too.

This risotto was delicious. A combination of the sharp saltiness from the cheddar and the smoked salmon gave the dish a subtle smokiness akin to whiskey, which is balanced by the lightness of the lemon, a great summer dish. Salmon as an oily fish has a lot of omega-3 and I gave the dish an extra boost of greens in the form of peas to make it a bit more healthy.

Salmon, cheese and green leaf risotto (adapted from Sam Stern’s Real Food Real Fast)

Serves 4

1.2 litres chicken, fish or vegetable stock

75g butter

1 medium to large onion finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

225g hot-smoked salmon broken into pieces

150mL white wine

50g mature cheddar cheese, grated

2/3 cup frozen peas

50g baby spinach leaves

2tsp fresh parsley, chopped

50mL cream or crème fraîche or single cream

Salt and black pepper

Squeeze of lemon juice (I added the zest of a lemon as well, to really boost the flavour)

Grated parmesan for serving

Pour stock into a pan, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and keep warm.

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Cook onion and garlic in the butter on a low heat for a few minutes until soft, not coloured.

Turn up the heat a bit. Tip rice into the pan. Stir to coat and add the wine. It will splutter and crackle. Cook, stirring until it’s absorbed.

Add a ladle of hot stock, stirring as you go. When nearly absorbed add another, continuing over 15-20 minutes until all the stock is used. Add peas when half the stock has been used. Test rice to check that it is tender. Add more liquid if needed.

Turn off heat. Stir in cheese, cream, baby spinach, salmon and herbs and season. Add the lemon juice and zest. Taste and adjust. Top with grated parmesan and herbs. Serve in soup bowls.

Music! I listened to this superb mix from Miss Moss. So much fun! I had a good wee boogie round the kitchen.

Festival Food

For New Year’s Eve I ventured up to the Coromandel Gold Festival. It wasn’t very golden, in fact it was Coro Brown… And there I was naively thinking that I might get a tan this summer bahahahahahahahahahahah! One thing that I always struggle with though is what does one eat at a festival? There are always promises of cooking facilities and we always have the best intentions of cooking, but essentially you want food that you can grab and run with and that will get you through the day and the drinking.

That’s where Mr. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall comes in.He calls this a Honey peanut butter booster bar whoop whoop!

They consist of good things

Good for you

And a great amount of bad things! Good for a quick energy burst anyway…

bad things are good for you

This mixture was too good, definitely a struggle to leave some for the dry ingredients. It smelled  divine in the oven, nutty and caramel aromas.

Honey and peanut butter booster bars (from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday)

125g unsalted butter

150g soft brown or muscavado sugar

125g no sugar added, crunchy peanut butter

75g honey, plus a little more to finish

Finely grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon (I didn’t have an orange so just used 2 lemons)

200g porridge oats, not jumbo

150g dried fruit (I used dried cranberries, dates (chopped) and raisins)

150g mixed seeds (I used sunflower seeds)

Grease and line a 20cm square baking tin (lining essential, this is v sticky!). Preheat oven to 160°C. Put butter, sugar, peanut butter, honey and grated zests in a deep saucepan over a very low heat. Leave until melted, stirring from time to time.

Stir the oats, dried fruit and three-quarters of the seeds into the melted butter mixture until thoroughly combined. Spread the mixture out evenly in the baking tin, smoothing the top as you go. Scatter the top with remaining seeds and a trickle of honey. Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until golden in the centre and golden brown at the edges.

Leave to cool completely in the tin (it cuts better when cold), then turn out and cut into squares with a sharp knife. The bars keep for 5-7 days in an airtight tin.

There is a sad postscript to this tale. We got to the festival and it poured with rain. Put our tent up in the rain, got covered in mud. We did, however think we were oh so smart by having our chilly bin just outside the tent, but under our gazebo. Alack alas, water still got in and managed to get into the box with the bars in it and it was not looking particularly appetizing. Much sadness and at the end of the day I cannot say whether it is good festival food. We just ate apples and bought a burger each day instead haha!