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: 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 potato curry

This recipe is an absolutely godsend for lazy winter evenings. It’s warming, cheap and you can chuck it all in a pot and forget about it for an hour to return to something truly amazing. Sticky and sweet and comforting and filling.

This is an adapted version of a recipe from Sam Stern’s Student Cookbook. One that we ate so much at university that the page in the recipe book is completely destroyed from the amount we had it open, exposed to splashes and burns. You can just about make out the list of ingredients but the method is beyond help. So before I forget it completely I thought I ought to chronicle it here.

I have adapted to recipe to suit the things I can buy in my local Sainsbury’s. A shop which stocks four different kinds of baked beans but no chickpeas. Any manner of fresh herbs but no spinach. And nothing in the way of curry paste, coconut milk or almonds. But all of those things would make delicious additions.

And as with all Indian meals you’ve got the wonderful choice of naan bread, chapattis, rice or poppadoms to enjoy it with or you could add potatoes to the curry itself. I tried to make my own chapattis which wasn’t an unqualified success and I won’t be including the recipe.

Serves two, takes an hour.

Ingredients

1 onion

1 clove of garlic

Cooking oil

Thumb size piece of ginger

1 large sweet potato

1 large carrot

250ml korma curry sauce

1-2 tbsp mango chutney (depending how much sweetness you like)

1 tbsp tomato puree

250ml chicken or vegetable stock

1 large bunch of fresh coriander, chopped.

Method

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Cut the onion into small pieces, finely chop the garlic clove and once hot add to the pan and cook until the onion softens.

Finely chop the ginger and add to the saucepan.

Peel and chop the sweet potato and carrot into even sized chunks and add to the saucepan to lightly fry for five minutes.

Add the curry sauce, mango chutney, tomato puree, 200ml of the stock and half the chopped coriander. Stir to combine and leave to simmer without a lid for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. If it starts to dry out add the remaining stock.

Serve with the naan, poppadoms, chapattis or rice, sprinkled with the remaining coriander.

Recipe: Store cupboard pasta bake

I eat a pasta bake for dinner at least once a week. Usually it’s that day when I was supposed to go to the shop on the way home but couldn’t actually be bothered because it was drizzling and my legs hurt and I just wanted to put my feet up and eat something unhealthy and covered in cheese.  And although this might feel like the unhealthiest thing you could eat you can cram a lot of your five a day into a pasta bake.

This recipe is one that I have been in love with since I was eleven and it was first cooked for me by my dad. I believe my response was something along the lines of ‘extremely, extraordinarily delicious.’ Twelve years on and I’m still cooking it although I’ve veered quite a lot from the original because nowadays basil is a luxury I can ill afford. It’s still in the recipe but you won’t lose much by not including it.

You could kid yourself and serve it with a salad. Usually I eat a raw carrot while I’m cooking which has much the same effect.


Serves two, takes about 20 minutes.

Ingredients

2 tbsp cooking oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 yellow pepper, cut into thin strips

1 red pepper cut into thin strips

1 tsp sugar

175g penne pasta

500g tin chopped tomatoes

75g cream cheese (or cream, crème fraiche, whatever you’ve got in the fridge)

Salt and pepper

Small bunch of fresh basil

100g grated or sliced cheese (ideally mozzarella but any cheese that melts will work)

Method

Preheat the grill.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Once hot add the onion.

When the onion is softened add the pepper and sugar and turn the heat up to high.

Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted water, according to pack instructions.

Once the onion and peppers have browned and caramelised add the garlic and fry for one minute, then add the cream cheese, tinned tomatoes and seasoning to taste. Stir until the sauce turns pink and simmer over a low heat until the pasta is ready.

Tear the basil leaves into the sauce and mix in the pasta. Then transfer to an ovenproof dish, top with the cheese and place under the grill for 3-4 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Recipe: Red cabbage and sausage meat hash


The word hash just does not sound appetising, does it? It sounds like a lot of things thrown together in a pan in a big rush which you then have to force yourself to eat. But I can’t think of another word to describe this. In its defence though it is very tasty and a real wintery kind of dinner.

A few weeks ago I got a craving for red cabbage. So I bought one, made a red cabbage coleslaw and then was left with half a red cabbage cluttering up my fridge. So I invented this meal which turned out to be actually quite delicious and I will definitely be having it again.

The reason it has sausage meat in it was because I’d already got sausages out to defrost but any kind of mince would work just as well.

I should also point out that when you cook an egg on top of red cabbage it causes some kind of crazy chemical reaction and the edges of the egg will turn blue. And not just any shade of blue – electric blue. Not a colour that screams ‘eat me.’ But I did and it’s over a week later and I’m still alive so clearly nothing to worry about.

 Serves two, takes 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 large potato

1 tbsp cooking oil

1 onion

1 clove of garlic

Half a red cabbage

Meat from 3 sausages (or 250g of mince)

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

2 eggs

Method

Preheat the grill.

Peel and chop the potato into even sized pieces, then put in a large pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Once it starts boiling turn off the heat and drain.

Put the oil in a large, ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat. Finely slice the onion, garlic and red cabbage and add to the pan, frying until the onion and cabbage start to soften (about 10 minutes).

Add the sausage meat to the pan and fry until browned.

Add the chunks of boiled potato and the mixed herbs and continue to fry for five minutes.

Crack the two eggs onto the top and place the frying pan under the grill until the eggs are cooked (about 5 minutes), then serve.