Recipe: Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I really think I might have a sweet potato addiction. Every Sunday I start thinking about what meal I could make myself to take in to work for lunch the coming week and without fail I will circle back around to something sweet potato related – salads, pastas, stews, curries, chillis; if you can put sweet potato in it, I will put sweet potato on it. Continue reading “Recipe: Sweet Potato Gnocchi”

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Recipe: Halloumi salad with sweet potato croutons

Can you really claim a salad is a recipe? When it comes down to it it’s just some ingredients mixed together in a bowl. Although at its basic level isn’t all food is just ingredients mixed together in a bowl? And this has got very deep very quickly. Continue reading “Recipe: Halloumi salad with sweet potato croutons”

Recipe: Goat’s Cheese and Honey Pasta

A lot of the meals I make are basically my favourite ingredients thrown together over pasta. And often they end up being less than the sum of their parts – just because I love butternut squash and I love brie doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll go together. And in that example it definitely doesn’t mean they’ll go together, lesson well and truly learnt.

But with this recipe; boy do they all go together. Continue reading “Recipe: Goat’s Cheese and Honey Pasta”

Recipe: A hugely inauthentic Mexican brunch

I feel a bit of a fraud calling this a recipe because it’s not really a recipe – it’s just three things that happen to go really well together. Poaching an egg does not require a recipe (and if it did I should be the last one to provide one as they are my cooking kryptonite), guacamole can be store bought and sweetcorn fritters already have a recipe from a previous post of mine. Continue reading “Recipe: A hugely inauthentic Mexican brunch”

Recipe: Sweet Potato Ratatouille

I don’t particularly like ratatouille. And if that’s not the stupidest way to start a recipe for ratatouille then I don’t know what it is.

When I planned this meal in my head it was really more of a vegetarian chilli. But I only own one saucepan and needed that for the rice so this got chucked in the oven instead. It turns out it’s a fine line between chilli and ratatouille and you cross it when you cook it in the oven. And change your mind about putting the kidney beans in. Continue reading “Recipe: Sweet Potato Ratatouille”

Recipe: Make-ahead satay noodles

For the past four weeks I have had a sausage roll with salad for lunch at work every day. Every single day. For four weeks.

But I do this with food. I go through a period where I can eat endless amounts of one meal and never get even slightly bored. And then one day I’ll wake up and just won’t fancy it any more.

The granola phase for example Continue reading “Recipe: Make-ahead satay noodles”

Recipe: Cardamom and Lemon Cheats Shortbread

I once won 50p betting my mum that we wouldn’t be able to find ground cardamom in Tesco. I don’t know why they don’t sell it, but they don’t. You have to buy the pods, split them open (which isn’t always the easiest thing), prize out the seeds and use some serious elbow grease to grind them up in a pestle and mortar. And you wouldn’t think it would be worth it but oh my god is it. Cardamom is just deliciousness on a whole other level to any other spice. Continue reading “Recipe: Cardamom and Lemon Cheats Shortbread”

Recipe: Fruit and nut breakfast bars

I am not a breakfast person. I am strictly a roll out of bed with the minimum amount of time needed to brush my hair, apply mascara, pull on clothes and get to work. Making and eating food is right down at the bottom of my priority list so I need things I can stock up on once a week and just grab and go. The problem is that things that fit these criteria – chocolate croissants, cereal bars, breakfast biscuits – is they aren’t exactly healthy most of the time. And if they are healthy then they taste like straw.

Well these breakfast bars are almost the perfect solution. They keep for weeks stored in an airtight container. They’ve been market tested on the people I work with and the full batch disappeared in under an hour so I have to conclude it’s not just me who finds them delicious. And they are absolutely packed full of healthy things like oats, nuts and fruit. Although there is the small matter of the tin of condensed milk to hold them together but hey, nobody’s perfect. Continue reading “Recipe: Fruit and nut breakfast bars”

Recipe: Garlic and chilli stuffed mushrooms

  
Until two weeks ago, would you believe it, I didn’t like mushrooms. I wouldn’t refuse point blank to eat them, I wasn’t making a huge scene if one accidentally got on my fork, but if they were easy and inoffensive to pick out of a meal I would. I just didn’t understand how people could like a vegetable roughly the same texture as… in fact the texture isn’t like anything else at all. It is something completely unique. Slimy and rubbery and weirdly ridged and the most disgusting shade of brown imaginable.

Then that fateful night, when I suddenly got the most overwhelming craving for mushrooms. I swear, sometimes I think I’m pregnant with the strange cravings I get out of nowhere. There was the time I decided I couldn’t live if I didn’t have red cabbage for dinner. And then the all-the-time-nothing-but jam sandwiches phase. And now mushrooms.

Maybe I’ve just only ever eaten badly cooked mushrooms. Or overnight my taste buds reconfigured. Or I actually am pregnant. Whatever the reason (definitely not the last one) I now like mushrooms.

Beyond like. I love mushrooms. I actively look forward to eating mushrooms. I plan meals around mushrooms.

And when you’re eating mushrooms every other day you quite quickly run out of ideas for what to do with them. I’d had pasta, stir-frys, all day breakfasts, mushrooms on toast: what else did people make with mushrooms? Why, they stuff them of course.

Usually the kind of person taking the time to stuff a mushroom is someone throwing a dinner party. I can imagine Aunt Petunia slaving away in the kitchen, stuffing mushrooms with goats cheese and thinking how much this is going to impress the Masons (that’s a Harry Potter reference for those of you who’ve been living under a rock for the past 15 years).

I, however, am a long way from being Aunt Petunia in many ways (thank god). Most importantly, for the point that I’m trying to make, I have never in my life thrown a dinner party. Some people might make stuffed mushrooms to smooze their guests into placing a large order of drills, I make them for my lunch on a boring rainy Saturday. (But if you are the kind of person who throws dinner parties then three mushrooms per person and a basket of crusty bread and you won’t be able to stop your guests buying drills. Providing there are no house elf related catastrophes. And now I think the Harry Potter reference has run its course).

A quick google told me that the most popular fillings for mushrooms include bacon (which I don’t like), goats cheese (which I don’t like) or cream cheese (which I didn’t have). So I improvised with the contents of my fridge and came up with one of the best things I have ever made. Seriously. These could even stand up next to the salted caramel cheesecake of dreams.

  
I guess the point of publishing these recipes is partly so you can learn from my experiences. And the main thing I’ll take away from this? Don’t try and stuff closed cup mushrooms unless you really have no other choice. Hollowing out a mushroom is not an easy task and is a waste of a Saturday afternoon. Even when you can do it while singing along to Taylor Swift. Just buy chestnut mushrooms.

Oh and if you are Aunt Petunia-ing it and making them as a starter they have the added bonus of the option to make the filling ahead. Just get as far as step seven, then leave the filling to cool and add an extra couple of minutes to the oven timings to get that cheese bubbling and delicious.

Makes enough for two as a starter or one as a very fancy lunch.

Ingredients

1 tbsp cooking oil

Knob of butter

½ onion

½ red pepper

½ green pepper

1 clove of garlic

1 red chilli

1 tsp oregano or mixed dried herbs

Salt and pepper

6 medium sized mushrooms

50g grated cheese

2 tbsp breadcrumbs

1 tsp olive oil

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C
  2. Finely chop the onions and peppers
  3. Heat the cooking oil and butter in a frying pan over a medium/low heat
  4. Once hot add the onions and peppers and fry for about 8 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is softened and just started to brown
  5. Finely chop the garlic and red chilli
  6. Once the onions and peppers are done, reduce the heat to low and add the garlic, chilli, herbs and seasoning and cook for two minutes.
  7. Turn the heat off the frying pan (at this point you can just leave the filling to cool and just heat in the oven later or carry straight on to the next step)
  8. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and put them in an oven roasting dish, top side down
  9. Grate the cheese and stir into the vegetable filling, then use a teaspoon to fill the mushrooms with this mixture
  10. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the tops of the mushrooms, drizzle with olive oil and put in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden and the cheese is bubbling

Recipe: Sweet and Salty Rocky Road

I’m going to begin this post by posing a deep and philosophical question – what is the difference between tiffin and rocky road?

Is it something to do with the amount of chocolate? Or whether it has marshmallows in it? Or just the Americanised name versus the British name? The whole of the internet has failed to give me an answer, maybe one of you can?

Either way this started out in my head as a tiffin but the finished product just felt more like rocky road.

Rocky Road Recipe Chocolate Peanuts Blog Marshmallow

But the one addition that makes this less like every other rocky road you’ve ever tried is the salted peanuts. Although I can’t really claim credit for this brainwave as I didn’t have any other choice – I wanted nuts in it, I didn’t want to pay more than £1, salted peanuts were my only option. But as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. And oh my god is this a good invention.

Now that the world has embraced salted caramel I think I’m just going to be putting salt in every sweet thing I make from now on. Because it just makes it better. And the saltiness cuts through the sweetness in a way that makes eating five in one sitting not only possible but likely.

Salted peanut rocky road with a cup of tea and The Jane Austen Book Club

Another thing in its favour is that it’s incredibly easy to make. The whole thing from beginning to end took me less than half an hour (minus the four hours it has to sit on the side and set while you ignore that little devil on your shoulder telling you to just grab a spoon and dig in now). And that half an hour included the time it took me to cut large marshmallows into mini marshmallows because it saved me £1 and, hello, cheapskate, party of one.

My stingyness is also the reason there aren’t any raisins in this because raisins it turns out are expensive! But I’m sure they’d be delicious. Actually there’s any number of things that could be added to this recipe and would only make it more incredible – almonds, hazelnuts, cranberries, honeycomb, fudge, crystallised ginger, pistachios, apricots, popcorn……. I could go on and on and on and on. But let’s just get to the recipe instead.

IMG_0701

Makes 21 pieces

Ingredients

200g milk chocolate (broken into pieces)

100g dark chocolate (broken into pieces)

125g butter

3 tablespoons honey

150g digestive biscuits

200g mini marshmallows

150g salted peanuts

Method

Line a 30cm by 20cm baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Melt the chocolate, butter and honey over a low heat, then put to one side.

Put the biscuits in a freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin until you have a mixture of crumbs and bigger chunks.

Add the biscuit pieces, marshmallows and peanuts to the chocolate and mix until evenly coated.

Pour into the baking tray and spread into the corners and until reasonably flat on top.

Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours, preferably over night.

Using a sharp knife cut into 21 even pieces and try to resist the temptation to eat them all in one go.

Salted peanut and marshmallow rocky road