Welcome all, fill your tum with my num num nums.

Gluten, Dairy & Legume free recipes; some by design, others are just nice recipes that happen to be! There are recipes and also shopping 'finds', all of which are good for free from people and all yummy whether you are following a particular diet or not! Just because something is 'free from' doesn't mean everyone can't enjoy it - and you may be surpised at how much happier your body is.

'Special' is how my friends describe my food and me, I don't think it's entirely complimentary!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Pork cooked in cider

Pork and Cider Hotpot

Excuse my laziness but as I didn't change anything there didn't seem a point in typing it out again! This was very nice & pretty low maintenance - thoroughly recommended!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Tuesday's Bento

I forgot to take a picture until I was nearly done! Today's bento was left over pork belly & avocado sushi rolls and fennel & cabbage coleslaw (that I made to go with the pork last night).
Sushi doesn't have to be fish - I put what's in the fridge in! Sushi refers to the rice I believe.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Fish en Papillotte

This is my favourite way to cook fish - I'm sure I had a recipe once but I don't use one now!

Basically get a whole white fish & get your fish monger to gut it for you* - if you're squinny you can get them to cut the head off too. Your choice of veg - funnel here, but finely sliced potatoes, onion, cherry tomatoes ... The worlds your oyster (in that vein I do pop a few mussels in sometimes!) Salt & pepper, olives, lemon, herbs - various things to make it taste good! Pop some of the veg/flavourings on a bit of tinfoil then add the fish & some more veg/flavourings. Seal the tinfoil up, almost completely, then splash in some wine & seal. If you're making them for guests seal them neatly - piercing them & the scented steam coming out provides an ideal show off moment (you can always open yours a bit to check everything's cooked through). Cook at around 200 for 40 minutes or so; do check it depends on what you've added & how thinly you've sliced. 

Easy peasy & tastes great.

*you could gut it yourself but why?

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Quail Egg Bento (yesterday)

I left my phone at home yesterday (doh) so I had to take the pic on @OurReceptionists rubbish phone! Not a lot of effort in this bento but the quail eggs made it feel posh! Sushi rice with furikake, quail eggs with celery salt & mini turkey kabanos with some mayo. Nom!

I learnt something too, quail eggs are a LOT easier to peel when they've gone cold!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Yesterdays Bento

I forgot to post this yesterday but as I have completely failed to make anything for lunch today I have time to talk about yesterday!

This was a really last minute thrown together bento but it was really nice; proving that bento's don't have to take a lot of time.

The tub on the right has mediterranean rice salad in it - well OK, a Rice Fusions from Birds Eye left to go cold, really very nice. The othe one tuna mayo - erm tuna, mayo, a spring onion; do you need instructions? - which I ate with the crudites and some crackers (which I forgot about til after I had taken the pic which is why they're not in it!)
I think this might be my next bento box - too cute for words!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Bento Book

This is THE book for Bento's - handy info for beginners and tons of recipes! Click on the title to go to it on Amazon.

I heartily recommend it whethet you've just decided to make your lunches healthier & more interesting or have been doing the bento thing for a while and need some new ideas. She also has a website and you can follow gher on twitter too. One of my fave sites!

Ideas & Time To Blog

I have masses of ideas to blog but I might have a bit more time coming up to blog in so they might actually get done ... we shall see!

Back to work Bento

Back to work after my wee op* & amazingly back into the bento straight away!

Tucked into the little paperchase tubs are tamagoyaki (This is the recipe I use from Just Hungry) which admittedly i didn't do a great job of on some watercress and pork belly & sweet potato (ie left overs) sushi rolls. I don't have a very sharp knife so they didn't get sliced!

In my miffy lunch bag was also a chocolate bar (which didn't make it past 10am), some grapes and an apple along with some gf pretzels. Have been beyond hungry since the op but that might also be down to not taking the amphetamine based tablets!

*for more on this you need to check out my tumblr!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

My Wednesday Bento

Bit pleased with my bento today! From top left, clock wise: sushi rice sprinkled with furikake (the rice is a bit overdone admittedly), vegetables (a predone pack from waitrose that I microwaved this morning), a hard boiled egg sprinkled with togarashi seasoning & burger wedges with wasabi mayonnaise. The whole lot took me about twenty minutes to make - the burger, rice & egg cooked while I was showering. I badly want one of those rice cookers with a timer so you can wake   up to perfectly cooked rice!

Now, if you don't mind I'm going to continue eating my lunch & feeling pleased with myself!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Nandos Tacos

Not strictly a recipe but it was so good I had to share! I had some taco shells, I fancied nandos take out - I combined the two & bingo! From nandos I got:
A butterflied chicken breast with medium + mango & lime
Side salad
Red pepper dip
(i also got chips & perinaise but they didn't go in the taco)

Once I warmed the taco shells I loaded them with salad, coleslaw, sliced chicken & red pepper dip. Then I ate them & they were good! I <3 tacos & I <3 nandos so this was a very happy marriage!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Mondays Bento & Sundays Supper: Gluten Free Vegetable Tarts

Hopefully @MsCurlysue will be happy that I've finally posted something vegetarian - and they're gluten free to boot. As I did this pretty much as is I have put the link into the title (click to go to foodista). The only think I swapped was the flour for Doves farm. I am planning variations though (the sweet potato was the best bit, so sweet potato + something pie will be coming up soon!) 

I had these hot out the oven for sundays supper :
and cold in my bento with some ham & rubbish stuffed vineleaves from M&S.

I do love cute little boxes; these were from paperchase.

Tuesday's bento & last nights rabbit dinner

I have decided to stop worrying about being "behind" and just blog stuff as I do (eat) it - noone but me knows the stuff I forget to post anyway!

So this is my bento lunch, as packed in my miffy bento bag which I <3. The tall container is a thermos one which has basmati rice & left over rabbit in (see below) and the smaller container contains one of the vegetable tarts I made on Sunday, recipe from foodista, which I'll blog when I'm back at my PC. There are some little choc mint creams - there are some grapes on my desk, I promise!

The whole bento lunch concept fits much better for those of us on restrictive diets & I just love all the little tubs & things! Lunch at work is something a lot of people ask me how to do gf/df/lf so I'll try to keep track of my bentos! It doesn't need to be Japanese & Mediterranean tapas & antipasti suits really well. When I am back sat at my pc I'll update my links to my fave bento ones.

Last nights rabbit dinner.
So, I had this recipe to try but I forgot to get some of the ingredients s I thought I'd bung what I had in the oven & see what happened & it was good so I'm sharing it! It'd work with chicken too I think but rabbit is tasty, healthy & cheap so forget about beatrix potter & her friends and tuck in!
1 rabbit, jointed.
Red onion
Roasted garlic (i had some left over, I'm sure unroasted would be fine!)
3 tbsp(ish) of dijon mustard
Bunch of fresh tarragon
Carton of coconut cream (not creamed coconut - they're very diff! I promise there isn't a hint of coconut in the finished dish)
Generous glass of dryish white wine

In a shallow dish arrange the rabbit pieces, onion wedges & garlic. Spread the mustard over the rabbit and snip some tarragon over (im mad for tarragon so it looked like a meadow but use your own judgement) then splodge* the coconut cream on top, topping with a bit more tarragon. Pour the wine in the dish & bake at 200c for about 45 mins. Take the rabbit out & reduce the sauce if needed.

* a technical term for coconut cream coming out the carton

Friday, 27 May 2011

Berry Risotto

This is my 1 person cheats dairy free version - you can check out the original by clicking on the title which will take you to Mr Breakfast. A great site with some great recipes for an important , and too often skipped, meal!  

I didn't take a pic last time I made this but you can probably imagine!

•A cup of water
•1/4 cup uncooked arborio or medium grain rice

•1/4 cup coconut milk
•2 tbsp agave or sugar sugar

•1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

•1 cup fresh berries (I did raspberries last time but have done strawberries and a mix of the two before. I imagine it would work with any berries or any soft fruit. I might try apricot.)

To do this the cheats way bung everything bar the berries in a small saucepan and simmer until the rice has done (in my case everytime I run past the hob pulling clothes on or smearing lipstick on my face, usually late). Once the rice is done add half the fruit, stirring it through then serve and tip the rest of the fruit on top.

Super yummy and filling!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Okonomiyaki v1

Ok this isn't ready for proper posting yet but I'm pretty excited about it - its gonna need a bit of practice, a new pan & a delivery of some sauce but I think okonomiyaki will be a regular thing! So versatile - stick what you like in - and dead easy! I will have another go soon & blog!

Shopping & Cooking Hale & Hearty Veggie Fritters

I got this mix a while ago and have been meaning to make them, and I'm sure I would have got round to it eventually but one of my favourite people on twitter - @MsCurlysue - has been nagging me to do some veggie recipes so I thought now was the right time! I'm doing a properly from scratch veggie recipe tonight so I'll be in her good books!

However back to cheaty mix recipe - these were very easy, you basically just mix the contents of the packet with some water, leave for a bit then add an egg, some parsley* & the grated veg of your choice - I did carrot & coriander (in the processor) this time. Very tasty and cant be more than 40 minutes from opening the box to opening your mouth! Something different for lunch or supper. I'm not sure how they are cold the next day coz I only did a 3rd of the box and ate them all which was very short sighted of me as if they are nice cold they'd be a great addition to my bento!

*There are lots of herbs and spices in the mix so I doubt it would matter if you missed that out. I usually have a little freezer bag of chopped parsley from Waitrose in the freezer.

Def worrth a buy amd I shall be keeping a box in the store cupboard for a quick lunch!

I did point these but I can't remember - I wrote it on the box so I will add it! I did take a picture of the finished article as well but google is being sucky and won't let me up load it - they kinda looked like fishcakes or something.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Shopping: Walters Chocolate Honey Nougat (4 points)

These are beyond good, beyond good and into special private moment territory. Light fluffy nougat, almost milky way fluffy, with a thin coating of dark chocolate.  I love them and after circa 50 of them that love has not waned!

The joy I felt when I discovered they were only 4 points on weight watchers cannot be expressed in words!

So far I have only got them online from ocado (where I first made the discovery & immediately regretted only ordering one) and amazon where you can get a box of 20 (nearly finished the second box!) I check everywhere though!

Picture is of an empty wrapper coz I couldn't wait!

Maple & Bacon Cookies (the special version!)

When I saw the link to these on twitter (If you're on there Foodista is a good follow!) I had to make them. This is my 'converted' version. If you like sweet and salty flavours and bacon with your pancakes & maple syrup you will love these!

They were v easy to make and if you did the bacon the night before (or buy some ready cooked) they would be a quick sunday brunch treat! These were my last naughty bakings before I jumped back into Weight Watchers - but I have been have them for breakfast all week anyway! If you don't try these you are mad!

1/2 cup df spread (I used Pure Olive)
1/4 & 1/8 (as in a quarter cup and a half) brown sugar
1/4 & 1/8 (as in a quarter cup and a half) sugaracked brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp maple syrup
Drop of maple syrup flavouring (optional - I like a distinct flavour!)
1 & 1/4 gf flour
1/3 tsp baking soda
Pinch salt
220g pack of streaky bacon

  • Cook bacon, drain on a paper towel, and crumble. Not too small - you want bacony chunks!
  • Preheat oven to 190c
  • Beat together spread, brown sugar and sugar in a large mixing bowl until fluffy.
  • Add the egg and maple syrup (and maple syrup flavouring if using). Beat for 1 more minute.
  • Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in another bowl.
  • Stir dry ingredients in 2 lots into the wet mixture until incorporated. Do not over mix or your batter with be tough.
  • Stir in the bacon pieces. Eat a couple just to check they're nice.
  • Drop by tablespoons onto cookie sheets. (I recommen silicon liners or the like here!)
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.
  • They will be very soft when they come out so dont try to stick them on the cooling rack straight away!
  • Make sure you have one while they are still warm - this is a treat you should not deny yourselves!
Hopefully there is a widget to link to the original below - whether my IT skills are that good is debatable.

Bacon Maple Cookies

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Catch up time

Terribly behind with my posting of recipes but I will catch up ... someday! Gonna try to at least try & not add to the backlog!

In the meantime here's a wee catch-up on what's been going on in my kitchen!
1. I started doing weight watchers (again! Lost loads last time & the new pro points system let's you eat lots) - this shouldn't affect the recipes too much apart from the cakes & ice cream - the joy of weight watchers is that you can eat anything within your points! Expect to see points values on the new recipes.
2. I am Bento mad at lunch times, have a wee miffy Bento Bag and a growing number of tubs & boxes! The whole separating your food out & madness with the accessories totally appeals to me too, what can I say - I have issues! Lots of little tasty treats & lots of inventive uses for leftovers - it totally brightens up my lunchtime & suits the working desk top lunch! Bento is the way forward! It's fusion Bento really but more oriental than not.
3. Japanese food is rocking my world at the moment - well I have always loved it - and with the help of some moulds am even venturing into sushi (no raw fish as yet - not sure I could get sushi grade fish in Derby market)! Some rather hit & miss results so far but once I've got easy peasy cheaty sushi (chusi?) down pat I'll do a post!

The next post will be the last bit of baking I did before starting weight watchers - maple bacon cookies, think American pancakes in cookie form!

The pic is from my recent trip back down south to see my folks which reminded me that I am & always be a southern girl. And southern guys are hotter - there I said it!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Belly Pork

Am beyond behind with my posting but I figure there is no point getting more behind by not posting the new stuff!

I love belly pork, I know it isn't the healthy choice but the combination of succulent meat & super crunchy ... oh hang on I'm gonna have to nick another bit of crackling off the cooling bit.

Belly pork can stand up to any strength of favours, so be bold! I served this with noodles & veg, and am planning to do sushi with the left over meat. Watch this space for how that turns out! It is such an adaptable recipe, go a bit porchetta or go a bit oriental. Belly pork is obviously fatty so clean & sharp flavours that will cut through it are good.

This was a 600g bit of pork but check the meat & adjust accordingly. Spice measurements are approx and obviously need to be adjusted if your piece of porks bigger!
1 tsp each of;
   Fennel Seeds
   Coriander Seeds
   Sea Salt
   Chilli Flakes
A star anise
Garlic Oil
2 sticks of celery
1 carrot
1/2 red onion
1 stick of rhubarb

Heat the oven to 250c. Score the skin of the pork. Make a rack with the veg - you're not gonna eat it, it'll just flavour the meat & keep it off the pan (well maybe the rhubarb, put that on top) chuck the star anise on & lay the pork on top, skin side up.

In a pestle & mortar crush all the spices, then mix them with the garlic oil & rub into the skin making sure it gets into all the scored bits.

Cook at 240c for half an hour then turn down to 175c tip in half a cup of water & cook for another 1-2 hours.

The pork will be tender & the skin crispy ...

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Pancakes v2 (pancake day stylee)

These are more traditional pancake day pancakes than the fat ones in v1 (& v3 v4 etc when I get round to posting all my pancake padventures - poor I know but couldn't think of a suitable p word) 

I usually eat these with lemon & sugar - I do the fat ones with the more exotic toppings.

This makes 5-10 pancakes, depending on the size.

4 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup gluten free flour
Tsp baking powder
2 Tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup df milk (i used Kara this time but have used rice milk successfully before)
2 eggs
Pinch of salt

Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl & whisk together
Add a bit more milk if its not pancake consistency
Heat a pan & oil it
Put a ladle full of mix in & cook til you get some bubble
Turn (they're not really flippable) & cook the other side
Do you really need pancake eating instructions?

Saturday, 26 February 2011

French Toast with Maple Syrup & Strawberries

Not exactly a ground breaking recipe but life is better with French Toast!
The strawberries & maple syrup are fairly self explanatory - but always try & get the best maple syrup you can, your taste buds will thank you for the few extra quid spent! Blueberries work really well with this too, or if you are feeling naughty some really crispy streaky bacon. Bacon & maple syrup are one of those American combos that sound mental but it is a revelation & once you've tried it you will wonder how you lived without it!
The French Toast is something I've tried out different ingredients for but the mixture stays basically the same:
3 slices of gf bread (equal to 1.5 slices of standard bread coz they tend to be small! I find Genius works best but others are ok too!)
1 xl or 2 s eggs
2-3 tbsp milk (rice works well, but the newly discovered Kara works great!)
Pinch of salt
Put a frying pan on a medium heat with a little oil or Df spread. In a wide, shallow bowl mix together the milk, egg/s & salt. You want to break the egg/s up but they don't need to be whisked! Dip both sides of the bread slices in the mixture, so they are well coated & semi saturated - don't let them soak too long though, gf bread tends to break up easily if it gets soggy! Fry on both sides until they are golden brown. While they are frying prepare the fruit & serve the toast with maple syrup poured over. I tend to drown them but to your taste!

Friday, 25 February 2011

Shopping: Kara Dairy Free Milk

wow ... easily the best dairy & soy free milk I have had so far. Actually a milk consistency rather than the very watery rice milk. Have had cereal for breakfast for the last 3 days and I haven't had cereal in aages! Well I have sat on the sofa and eaten it out of the box while watching telly but that doesn't really count! (Doves Farm Chocolate Stars if you're interested!)

I haven't baked or anything with it but they have recipes for things like that on the site so I'm feeling pretty confident!

I got this from ocado (ie Waitrose) but the stockists sections lists Tescos & various Health Shops.

I've got some strawberries at home so I might try a shake later!

click on the title to go to their site

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Moroccan-ish Poussin

Not really a recipe, more flavours & ideas to share. I am a big poussin fan; some times you want that roast chicken taste but living on my own its a lot of left overs to commit to! 1 poussin does me 2 meals but I'm sure a hungry guy could polish off one! They could certainly posh up roast chicken for a dinner party & are nicer than a full sized bird.
I gave this a Moroccan feel by smearing pomegranate molasses over the poussin & then sprinkling za'atar (moroccan spice blend, pretty easy to get) over the poussin & the veg (beetroot, carrot & celery;a combination of it feels middle eastern & its in my fridge!). I pre-heated the tray & cooked it all for about 45 mins - the size of the poussin does mean you can chuck everything in together! None of the veg was parboiled just cut into similar sized pieces. I certainly don't mess about peeling beetroot - the skin comes off easily after its cooked anyway.
Pomegranate Molasses is one of my favourite thing; at once both sweet & tart it lends itself to both savoury & sweet dishes - try mixing some in with sliced strawberries & letting them sit for a bit.  

Crunchy Mackeral Fillets with Watercress & Radish Salad

So obviously I burnt this a little but it was still nice! This sort of treatment works on any kind of fish, though with a lighter fish I just tend to dust it in seasoned flour, maybe with a bit of lemon zest.
I'm sure this dish must be massively healthy too; oily fish & watercress on one plate, I feel like I have made up for the candy floss I ate yesterday!
To serve one:
2 mackeral fillets
1/4 cup of flour
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 egg
1/4 cup gf bread crumbs, crushed up crackers, I used crushed up pretzels
Handful of watercress
Radishes with leaves attached
Half a lemon
- set up 3 dishes in a row, in the first mix the flour, s&p & mustard in the second whisk the egg, and in the third the crumbs.
- rinse & pat dry the fillets then dip them in the flour (shake off excess) then egg then crumbs.
- heat a little oil in a frying pan & put in the fillets, skin side down. You want to cook them 75% on the skin side.
- while they cook, scatter the watercress & radish leaves & slice the radishes over
- squeeze a little lemon juice over the salad
- put the fillets onto the salad & pour over a little of the cooking oil
- squeeze over the rest of the lemon

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Shopping: Patchwork Pate

I've tried to order this from ocado a few times but this time I got it. I usually have pate as an easy lunch or tea, so even though I have missed pate a LOT since giving up dairy & gluten making some didn't really appeal. This is their venison liver & chilli variety though they do have others which I will be trying if ocado let's me!

This had a tasty, earthy meatiness with a flavourful warming kick. I had it on thick slices of genius with onion relish & an apple. A win for sure & I might actually get round to making those grapeseed crackers from Elanas Pantry now!  

Sent from my HTC
addendum - Monday morning & I have found a link to their site which you can order directly from & stockists. Click on the title to go there. There are a lot of tasty looking dairy free options. There is a stockists near where my receptionist lives (shopping for me is now part of her job description) and of course I can get it direct so I am a happy girl who will be eating a lot of pate!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Roast Chicken a la Fanny Craddock

Saw a Fanny Craddock show before xmas on Good Food (which I watch way too much of) and scribbled this tip down. Finally got round to trying it today & it was good, which I should have expected! I mean she was very bossy, but she knew her stuff!

Not really a recipe but a change when it comes to roast chicken. I usually cover the top with bacon but this was a nicer, subtler flavour with fantastic crispy skin.

Basically she put pancetta & whole mushrooms (no stalk, skin still on) under the skin of the chicken breast. Basically slip your fingers under the skin to make a pocket, slip some ham in (i used a slice of ham per breast on a 1.3kg chicken) and then the whole mushrooms (i used 2 chestnut mushrooms per breast). At this point the chicken will look mutant!

I then did some of my 'usual' roast chicken routine: I squeezed half a lemon over the bird then stuck the other half in the cavity with some garlic. A little bit of olive oil drizzled over followed by some chicken spice blend.

Roast in the oven (i do 20 minutes per 450g + 20 mins at 200c and it is normally done before time) and the mushrooms will flatten out to nothing. In fact by the time you come to carve there will be practically nothing under the skin except moist & tasty chicken.

This will be how I roast chicken from now on. I didn't take any pics (sorry) but trust me it's good!

Sent from my HTC

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Chocolate Almond Promise Ice Nohm

Almonds are a symbol of promise, hence the name. The picture I think may get gold in the worst ever food photo though!

If you can't get the Almond Lindt*, any similar chocolate would work or some plain chocolate & toasted almonds.

Tin of coconut milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp xantham gum
Bar of Lindt roasted almond chocolate*
Mix together all the ingredients except the Lindt and put in your ice.cream maker. Once it is at Mr Whippy stage, break up the chocolate & stir it in.

Sent from my HTC


Yesterday I got my first nibble box from graze.com - loving it! Basically they post you a letterbox friendly box of snacks at a frequency to suit you (weekly, daily or in between) and you can adjust you preferences to select what you get, nuts, seeds and dried fruit (some with chocolate in :-) and some of it's dark) are a given but also olives and lots of things that aren't suitable unfortunately like flap jacks, focaccia bits (they say gluten free ones are coming soon but they are all covered in cheese so prob not much use) and crackers (mostly peanut :-().

Worth it for the convenience of having healthy snacks on your desk at work and hopefully they will start to consider the dairy and gluten free market at some point - especially as they have healthy diet and weight loss boxes. Lets hope it is before I get bored with the fruit/nut/seed/olive options!

If your reading this graze.com can I suggest rice snacks that aren't peanut, gluten free pretzels (because I like them!), gluten free or very low gluten flapjacks that don't have butter in them and making some gluten free focaccia bits and not putting cheese on them?

I have added a link to graze below.

Sent from my HTC

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Lasagne di Casetta

Aka cottage lasagne! No mashed potato but it kinda looks like cottage pie! Well a bit - it gave me a name OK?

This was a first go and I didn't expect it to turn out this well so I didn't really measure! I will do another one again soon and add proper measurements in. The only things i'll be changing next time are; checking I have enough lasagne sheets before I start (it could have done with another layer I think), a bit more spinach and making the polenta more mushroomy (maybe some dried ones in there).

It looks like a lot of stages but they are all easy and don't take long.

For the ragu:
450g minced beef
Third of tin of easy onions
100g salami
Small handful chopped mushrooms (I used 1 flat mushroom)
350g passata
Garlic infused olive oil
Oregano (i used dried)

For the lasagne:
Gf lasagna sheets
100g spinach
Half cup of easy cook polenta
Handful of mushrooms
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (or your preferred cheese substitute)
Garlic infused olive oil
Parsley (i used frozen)

Present the oven to 200c

Fry the mince in the oil until browned, adding the salami, onions and mushrooms. Add oregano & seasoning then stir in the passata and simmer until its the right consistency.

You need to cook the spinach now, Microwaved in its bag, sauteed - however you want and let it drain.

Finally make the polenta according to the packet (bit wetter though) - you don't want to do it too far ahead of assembly as it will go solid and won't spread. Fry the mushrooms in the garlic oil and add to the polenta when done along with plenty of seasoning, the parsley and the flakes. Mix well.

Put a layer of pasta sheets in your dish followed by a layer of meat. (Another layer of pasta then meat would have been better!) Then arrange the spinach on top. A layer of pasta and then the last of the ragu. For the final layer spread over the polenta & sprinkle with s&p and some more flakes.

In the oven, half an hour at 200c (but check your pasta instructions.)

Sent from my HTC

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Lapin au Vin a la mijoteuse

Otherwise known as rabbit cooked with wine in the slow cooker. Possibly one of the worst pics I have taken although brown stuff is hard to make look nice! I have also managed to make the polenta look unappetising and you can't really see the brocolli!

This dish was based on a coq au vin recipe, and I mainly did it because I had over half a bottle of red wine left and I don't drink it! I love rabbit and it is only £3.50 for a whole one in the market. I generally work at a rabbit serving 3-4 people and this did 3 meals (me & my friend then left overs for me) and then I made the remainder into pasta sauce with some tinned tomatoes (possibly even nicer than the original dish!).I prepped everything the night before, put the rabbit in the wine & garlic oil to marinate over night (I don't think you have to do this at all) then chucked everything in the slow cooker in the morning, leaving it to cook while I worked.

2 red onions, quartered
100g (ish) button mushrooms, halved
1 rabbit, cut into 6 pieces
6 rashers smoked back bacon, cut into strips
garlic infused olive oilhalf - 2/3 bottle of red wine
150 ml chicken stock
2 tbsp chopped parsley

  • If you are prepping the night before & marinating put the rabbit in a bowl with the wine, garlic oil, seasoning & some parsley, the prep the veg & bacon & pop it in a bowl.
  • When it comes to it, turn your slow cooker on & chuck everything in.You can fry the bacon first if you like
  • I served this with som quick cook polenta, always an easy option!

Sent from my HTC

Monday, 17 January 2011

Pink & Fluffy Dotty Choccy Ice Nohm

Otherwise known as double choc 'ice cream' with a raspberry marshmallow swirl.

I  decided that I needed a new name for my 'ice cream' recipes and helped by my tweeps and google I am calling them Ice Nohm. The ice bit is obvious but the Nohm comes from the Thai for coconut milk - nohm gkati - I did say google was involved! When I saw the word Nohm I knew it had to be involved! I tend to use coconut milk, as it has a creamyness that rice milk for example doesn't and doesnt taste coconutty if you have other flavours in.

This recipe came about because my friend Sarah came round for tea last night & when I got home I realised I didn't have anything for pudding. I keep the bowl part of my ice-cream maker in the freezer so thought I would knock up some Ice Nohm (not that I had named it that then!). The basic Ice Nohm recipe is easy and I just added what I had in the cupboard & thought would go! 

When I first started making Ice Nohm I thought it was the Coconut Cream which made it creamy but it is the Xantham Gum I think. The Coconut Cream mainly adds calories! I will go back tio my previous recipes and take it out I think - and change them to Ice Nohm! Generally ice cream made from 1 tin of coconut milk will make enough for 2-3 people depending on the bits you put in!

I must credit Sarah in part for the name, it took us a while of bouncing ideas to come up with one we liked! The photo's a bit rubbish & I must have taken it from a pink side as it was actually mainly chocolate with a pink ribbon through it. Bad dishing up maybe!

Choc Ice Nohm mix
Tin of coconut milk
1/4 cup sugar (you can swap this for the sweetner of your choice such as agave which I use sometimes but the fluff is so full of sugar it is not worth worrying!)
1/4 cup good cocoa powder
Pinch of salt

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 tsp xanthan gum

Extra Bits
Chocolate Chips (I used a pack of Dr Oetkers which are 100g but anywhere around that amount is fine!)
2 big tbsp Raspberry Fluff (Fluff is an american marshmallow spread which you can get in places like Selfridges or online in the UK. It has no nutritional value whatsoever but I don't care coz I like it. The original white one with chocolate spread on a crumpet <insert Homer Simpson noise here>)

Obviously you need to take into account your ice cream makers instructions as well here.
  • whish together the mix ingredients, this is especially important with the choc one as the cocoa can go a bit lumpy. You want a smooth consistency.
  • Once it is mixed tip it into the ice cream maker.
  • When it is still soft, like Mr Whippy consistency, stop the machine and with a spatula stir in the chocolate chips and then swirl in the fluff. You are aiming for a ribbon of fluff through the chocolate which is admittedly not very clear on my pic, so you dont want to mix it in nor do you want 1 big blob.
  • At this point you can put it in the freezer in a tub to firm it up or eat it - it depends how sloppy you like your ice cream!
  • I served this in dark chocolate cups (which kinda look like chocolate cupcake cases) which I admittedly bought from sainsburys rather than made! They are an easy way to posh-up ice cream!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Pannetone Pudding

I am starting my 'getting up to date weekend' with a post that is shamelessly pandering to my twitter followers! I made this yesterday so it is not really catching up with the back log, It was very nice and I had it last night with baked plums and a bit on it's own cold for mid morning snack! This is based on my cool aunties bread and butter pudding, and if you are determined to put poison in your system you could swap back to cows milk. Tried hemp milk for the first time this week, am not sure about it really - but it worked well in this. I used a gluten free panettone which I have only seen in my mums local sainsburys (though a bit of research  found the company - click on the title) but any fuity cakey bread would do. The amount of panettone wasn't quite enough for the custard so something bigger would be good, unless you like it custardy!. Obviously in the Bread & 'Butter' pudding the bread was buttered but with the panettone being so rich I didn't feel the need. Think I should give it another name really, seeing as I have diverted from the bread and the butter bits ... Italian Custardy Blankets  maybe? feel free to suggest.
Panettone or the like - I used a mini 180g panettone but reckon about 300g would have been right, sliced
1/2 pint hemp or other dairy free milk (oh if you have to, animal milk)
Grated rind of half a lemon

2oz caster sugar

3 eggs
Grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 180c.

  • Grease a baking dish of some fine then slice the panettone - good luck, mine fell apart terribly!
  • Arrange it in the dish - you want to have bits poking up so you get crispy bits.
  • Mix together the milk, caster sugar, lemon and a sprinkle of nutmeg- the easiest way it to measure the milk in a large jug and add everything else.
  • Either - whisk the eggs and add or stick the eggs in and stir hard (guess which one I did). Whisking the eggs first will give you a fluffier mixture to be honest.
  • Pour the custard mix over the bread, squidging down a bit, sprinkle over more nutmeg and let it sit for a bit. Bread & Butter Pudding type things are always that bit nicer when they have a bit of time to soak up first, the amount of time you give it really depends on how long you have, how impatient you are & how hungry you are - it will still be nice if you don't. 
  • Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes - it should be set and a bit browned on top - or if you're like me you're gonna want a few burnt bits!
  • Good with some fruit or custard. Or of course, both.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Why I cook (and why I blog about it)

Inspired by the post at Elanas Pantry (click on the title to go there) I had a think about why I cook. The big answer is simple - I love to eat. A bit too much to be honest, I am edging above (again) my fighting (ie look my hottest) weight at the moment! Bought a couple of things (understatement) in M&S at the weekend as I had a credit note from Christmas and it was a pleasure - I am still a 12 in there, their sizes are always on the more generous side!

I cooked a bit before starting the Best Bet Diet but it was after that I really started getting into it: it was so much harder to buy really nice stuff, any sort of variety and the prices were shocking. The gluten free cakes and brownies on offer? I could make better. Pasta sauce, curry sauce etc - no variey, over priced and what the hell is in there anyway? Once you start reading labels to check it is free from Gluten, Dairy and Legumes you start to notice all the other stuff thats in there and if it doesnt sound like food I don't want it in my body! Oh and my favourite rant - is rice pwder really twice as expensive as milk? Oh and just because my food is healthy and I have cut out some things doesn't mean I want to eat twigs and leaves! Oh and .... I could go on but will spare you for now.

Once I started to get into it I started to really enjoy it; it really is relaxing, I get a great sense of achievement out of something that turns out great (especially cakes, though that may also be the anticipation of eating them) and I am a total feeder: I love to dish up something tasty to friends and family (though you may notice in other posts that my family as a whole aren't foodies) and have them enjoy it and go away with full tummies. Like Nigella* I am never knowingly under catered and it is very rare that there aren't a LOT of left overs. In fact there have been occasions where the left overs were enough to do the whole party again. Sometimes of course the left overs are on purpose coz I want them! There is also the Greys style baking as substitution :-) if you dont watch Greys Anatomy then I will leave it to you imagination I think!

I love cookery programmes, watch way to much of the Good Food channel, set my Sky+ for the new series of Jamie, Nigella, Ina Garten etc (noone too fancy I am a home cook not a chef!) or Supersizers and have a mass of cookery books and a drawer full of recipes I have pulled out of magazines and papers (sometimes mine, sometimes other peoples to their annoyance no doubt) which I simply must try and get excited about trying new things but always trying to find a cheats way to do it! Home cooking to me is not about impressing people (though I do like to show off a bit occasionally, who doesn't!) it's about enjoying the process and the product and entertaining should be pleasurable for you and your guests! I shall save the story of me showering myself in aubergine dip for another post! Noone enjoys a get together where the host is a red faced, strung out, panicked bunny - not the host and not the guests.

The blogging started when people started asking me for recipes in a 'my niece can't eat dairy how do you make chocolate cake' or 'mmmmmm I want to make those' type way - I figured it was easier to stick them all somewhere central than keep typing out emails and it would give me something to go back to when I wanted to do something again. I also thought it would get me back into a bit of writing; I remember planning to write a best selling novel at some point but life kind of got in the way. Brevity, as you can see, was never my strong point! I've kind of lost my way with the blogging; I tried to keep to the facts and that wasn't fun to write and then I got behind ...This year, a New Years Resolution if you will, I am determined not to just get up to date but to enjoy it, it's my blog and if I want to talk about the fantastic shoes I bought while the cake was cooling I will. I love shoes :-).

So I shall continue to cook and bake (not too much baking while the christmas pounds are still hanging around) and blog and eat, and eat some more ... I hope you all enjoy reading and try some of the recipes, I know Sarahs Chocolate Orange Cake has been a success for quite a few! Don't be shy about commenting when you've had a go; some of my best ideas have been nicked off other people ;-)

If you do a 'why do I cook' blog post link back so the trail leads back to the originator!

PS I have no idea who Michael Ruhlman is! Anyone want to comment?
* I think it was Nigella, but my memory is not to be trusted

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Spaghetti con mussels (i can't remember what mussels is in Italian - I know clams are vongole)

This is my easy version of a recipe that you can find more complicated versions if that's the way you roll. Personally I think this way tastes great and though in the hands of a michelin starred chef or an Italian nonna the longer way probably tastes epic, I doubt mine would be much improved. I didn't cook enough spaghetti though and unfortunately in my world eating a smaller portion doesn't mean weight loss it means too many chocolates in front of the telly. The picture is very badly lit - sorry!

I did this for me so just x by the amount of people you are serving. I was a bit haphazard with the measurements (ie didn't really measure) so don't feel the need to stick to them too carefully! Italians don't generally have cheese with seafood so you don't need to miss it or apologise for not passing it round.

Garlic olive oil
1/4 of an onion diced (i used a big spoonful of my beloved Eazy Onions)
About 500g mussels, washed, debearded, open ones thrown away
100g chopped tomatoes
70ml water or wine
Couple of tbsp of chopped parsley (waitrose do a handy pouch of frozen chopped parsley that you can just scoop some out of & voila! They do other herbs too which will no doubt find their way into my freezer)

Get the water on for the spaghetti. In a large deep fry pan with a lid fry the onions in the garlic oil before adding the tomatoes, water/wine, pepper and a spoon of parsley. Get it to bubbling point, add the mussels, shake and pop the lid on. Shake every so often. Put the spaghetti in. Once the mussels are open take the lid off and reduce the sauce, take out any that haven't opened and any empty shells (I encouraged some to come out to make it easier to eat!). When the spaghetti is done, drain it and add it to the sauce stirring (i read somewhere that it should be pasta to sauce not sauce to pasta, I can't remember where!). Add the second lot of parsley and stir in. Serve, eat, break out the chocolate.

Sent from my HTC

Enoki Mushroom Stir Fry

I've missed my Saturday morning trips to the market while I've been down south over Xmas but got back into my usual routine this morning. I usually have a few recipes planned before I go (chosen after my weekly email from Eat The Seasons - link below) but leave leeway for there being something I have to have! Today it was first to what I call 'the chicken stall' (I'm sure that's not what they call it and they do game etc as well) for rabbit* and venison*, the fish market for some mussels* then to Ted's fruit & veg stall where they know me well! They always want to know what I'm making and if they have something special put some aside for me. Today it was some very reasonably priced Enoki mushrooms - a shared love of sushi was discussed with Rob and how they could be used - but its Saturday so I went for the easy option. I got some asparagus (out of season but I can never resist), spring onions and red pepper then went to see the guy I get my beef from for a bit of steak. A very tasty lunch and it was nice to get away from the Xmas stodge though I did ruin that a bit with the 2 cookies after! Ok, 3 cookies.

A handful of Enoki mushrooms
Third of a red pepper, cut into strips
3 spring onions, halved lengthwise then halved or thirded
4 asparagus stalks, tips cut off then as the onions
Piece of steak, cut into strips
Tsp ginger matchsticks ( I use the lazy ginger - life is too short to chop ginger for a knocked together stir fry)
Tip of a Tsp of chopped Chilli (lazy again coz I am!)
Garlic oil
Sesame oil

In a wok I fried the ginger & Chilli in a generous slug of garlic oil before adding the onions and red pepper then the steak strips and asparagus, seasoning well - I do like my salt. Once these were done to my liking I added the mushrooms and a liberal sprinkling of sesame oil, stirring well to combine and served. HOWEVER LONG YOU THINK THE MUSHROOMS TAKE, THEY TAKE LESS! And, treat sesame oil as a flavour at the end rather than a cooking oil (if I give advice like that I learnt it from a rubbish experience, so trust me I'm not being a foodie nazi!) Nom nom nom - kind of wish I'd got 2 packets but sometimes things are nice because you don't have them loads and I know tomorrows stir fry wouldn't have been as nice!

*these are for recipes which should be on here soon - 1 thanks to recipe rifle -my favourite food blog. I am determined to get up to date this weekend!
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Thursday, 6 January 2011

Christmas Dinner - anally organised but panic free*

Anal doesn't even begin to describe my organisation for this, the first Christmas Dinner I had done for the family and I wanted it to be perfect! I had everything planned out of post it notes, that were in time order so I just worked through them and did what I was told at what time! It came out well so everyone was happy!

The made bits will get their own post but the sausages were M&S - posh chipolatas, gluten free which I wrapped in bacon and Waitrose ready made gravy* also free from though not by design I think! The roast vegetables I don't think deserve a post of their own - they were par boiled (potatoes and carrots 10 mins, parsnips 5) then put in some hot hot goose or duck fat in the oven 40 minutes before the turkey was done then turned up high while the turkey is resting. Thanks to Jamie for those timings, my brother is an international roast potato expert and he thought they were good! I am not even going to start on the sprout arguement - do them your way! We just had a turkey crown and I sat it on a bed (well anal rows of) leek, celery and carrott with half and orange in it's cavity and some rather fantastic Maple Cured Bacon on the top off which I took off towards the end to brown the top! Oh and I did it wrapped in tin foil for most of the time.

* I do normally make my own gravy but my family are heathens when it comes to food and I knew I'd be manic so I cheated - I have no guilt over making life easier! Sent from my HTC
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i'm rubbish ... but I promise to try harder

Ok, I know I have been rubbish and I won't make excuses but I promise to try harder. This weekend I will sit down and start getting up to date and then I will make something extra nice to make up for it!

Biscuits maybe - I haven't done any biscuits yet!