Monday, 27 January 2014

A quick potato salad recipe!

This is just a quick post because I was so chuffed with my potato salad that I had for lunch today - made out of the left overs in my fridge last night - that I wanted to share the recipe! Unfortunately I have no photos except a terrible one of the second half of the salad in it's Tupperware ready for tomorrow's lunch! But seriously, this is a real easy, really tasty potato salad that you can make the night before a miserable Monday morning to cheer you up later in the day - and it really did put a smile on my face at lunchtime!

So here we go... quantities are vague as ever - makes about two portions - but you can really just use up left overs for this recipe!


a couple of handfuls of small potatoes (or chop up a couple of bigger potatoes!)
about 100ml sour cream
a splash of white wine vinegar
generous twist of salt and black pepper
a handful of fresh dill, chopped finely (or just use about a teaspoon of dried dill like I did!)
1/4 red onion chopped very finely
1/2 cucumber, seeds scraped out and chopped
about 100g smoked salmon (or however much you can spare!)

Boil your potatoes for around 15minutes or until soft.

While they're boiling, mix together the sour cream, white wine vinegar, dill and seasonings in a large bowl.

Drain your potatoes and add to the dressing while still warm. Leave to cool while you chop the remaining ingredients.

Once cool, add the cucumber, onion and smoked salmon and mix through until everything is coated nicely in the dressing. Pack up in a Tupperware or two for lunch the next day, or serve with a green salad and a glass of cool white wine for dinner!


If you have a different combination of ingredients in your fridge or want to try a different potato salad then go for it! Why not swap the smoked salmon for some smoked haddock and go heavy on the black pepper? Or you could easily swap the sour cream for crème fraîche (maybe use a bit less as this tends to be a bit richer) or natural yoghurt, though the red onion works really well with sour cream. And if you're less of a fish fan, then go for some cut up smoked bacon or pancetta instead and swap your dill for some fresh parsley. The opportunities are endless... so Happy Monday... have a lovely week and enjoy!

Monday, 20 January 2014

My first attempt at pasta!

I don't know if anyone else has ever had a go at homemade pasta, but I watch it on TV all the time and it looks so easy I just thought... I may as well give it a go! And I guess it is pretty easy... but only when you know what you're doing! So this is a little bit about my first attempt at pasta - I wouldn't call it a total failure but neither would I call it a success - but practice makes perfect, right?

I was following this recipe (as accurately as I could!) for Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini, which I made in advance and froze for a couple of weeks. Then I roughly followed the recipe for for a Butter, Sage and Pine Nut Sauce, and cooked some of the pasta up tonight for tea!

When making the pasta, I got in a bit of a mess - I always get in a mess when there's flour involved - but I was fairly pleased with the ball of stuff I had that sort of resembled the pasta dough I was aiming for. It was at this point that I realised I didn't have a rolling pin (I now do, as well as a pasta maker, after telling this story to my mum and boyfriend just before Christmas!)

As I was making these around the gift giving period, I improvised with the closest thing I could find to a rolling pin - the cardboard tube from a roll of wrapping paper! Needless to say, the rolling of the pasta was not as smooth or as thin as it should have been and the tortellini was probably ruined from here on... but I'm not a quitter!

The spinach and ricotta filling was fine to make, but spooning it into my little slabs of pasta and trying to not get in even more of a mess was a little trickier! Anyhoo, I managed to make them and then wrapped them individually in cling film to freeze so as not to stick the tortellini together.


Tonight I boiled my little funny-shaped attempts at tortellini and cooked the pine nut, sage and butter sauce and dished it up... and I was pleasantly surprised! For something that could have been a total disaster, it definitely tasted like pasta and the thinner areas around the filling were pretty good! Some of it, admittedly, was too thick and a bit chewy and they were all shapes and sizes... but not bad for a first attempt!

I'll definitely be giving it another go sometime soon, but I will not use a tube of wrapping paper and I will try to have a finished dish that looks little more like tortellini!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Beef Goulash

When I was traveling around Europe in the summer I couldn't help but bring back a load of local bits and bobs to cook with! One of the things I brought back was some goulash spices from the Naschkmarkt in Vienna, because after trying goulash in Prague (and later in Hungary) I was keen to make it myself!

Last night I made this for me and boyfriend and it was really delicious! As you probably can't make a trip to Vienna just to pick up the spices, I'd say to use paprika instead. It worked brilliantly served with just some crusty bread and a green salad, but you could always have a go at some dumplings to serve in the stew or it would be tasty with some rice!

serves 2


olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped/crushed
1-2 teaspoons goulash spices/paprika
salt and black pepper
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
stewing steak (enough for two people), diced
1 beef stock cube
1/4 glass of dry white wine
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1/2 tin chopped tomatoes
a small handful of fresh parsley, chopped (or a teaspoon of dried if you forget to pick up the fresh stuff like I did!)
2 tablespoons sour cream

to serve
crusty bread (I used part-baked rolls from the supermarket, but some nice bread from the bakery would be lovely as well!)
green salad leaves

Preheat your oven to about 130 degrees.

Fry the onion in a splash of olive oil for a few minutes over a medium heat. As the onion is starting to soften, mix in the garlic, spices and a generous twist of salt and black pepper. Fry for a further two minutes before adding your chilli and pepper. Once the peppers have started to soften, tip the contents of your pan into a casserole dish.

Add the steak to the pan and mix it around until it is sealed all over (this will only take a couple of minutes). Add about 100ml of boiling water to your stock cube (probably less than the packet will recommend) and pour into the pan. Mix in the wine, tomato puree, and chopped tomatoes. Heat through for a couple of minutes and then add to the casserole dish, mixing with the veg. You should have enough liquid for all of the ingredients to be just covered.

Loosely wrap some silver foil around the casserole dish (or use a lid if you have one) and pop in the oven for about an hour and a half, stirring half way through. About 10 minutes before the end of cooking, take out and add the parsley and sour cream. Mix and return to the oven without the foil. I put the bread into the oven at this point to bake for ten minutes to serve warm with the goulash.

Serve with your chosen accompaniment and enjoy!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Kind of Thai Fishcakes

Just a quick recipe for you tonight that I made for me and my flatmate last night. We had a Thai inspired meal of fishcakes and stir-fried veg.

I'll be honest, it was my first time making these fishcakes and I completely made up the recipe so they still need a little bit of work, but I vowed to share my kitchen successes and failures on this blog so you're going to get it anyway!! Not that this was a failure - it was pretty nice, just not gobsmackingly beautiful - so why don't you play around with the recipe a little and you might find something more delicious than mine!

Serves 3 (us two and my dinner tonight!)



3 small portions of potato, peeled and chopped
1 stalk of lemongrass
your choice of stir fry veg, chopped - I used cabbage, pepper, broccoli and carrot
1 teaspoon sugar
splash of rice wine vinegar
3 fillets of white fish
3 teaspoons Thai Green curry paste (if you spend a little more on a better paste then this is more than enough because it'll be full of flavour, but if it's a cheapo one then you might need a little more!)
a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
sea salt and black pepper
1/2 lime, squeezed
 olive oil 
1 small egg
plain flour
a drizzle of soy sauce
sweet chilli sauce (to serve)

Begin by getting a pan of water boiling on the hob. Slightly squash your lemon grass with the flat of your knife to release the flavours, then add to the pan whole (or in half if too long!). My intention here is to flavour the water - and subsequently the potato - with these gorgeous citrus flavours without them overpowering the fishcake.

Prepare all of your stir-fry veg and put in a bowl. Mix in the sugar and rice wine vinegar and leave to one side for later.

Then, spread the green curry paste over your fish fillets. Place them on a baking tray and wrap loosely with silver foil. This needs to go in a preheated oven until just cooked and flaky (probably at about 180 degrees for around 10-20mins depending on the size of your fillets).
Add your chopped potato to the pan of water and boil until soft (about 10mins).

Once the fish is cooked, remove from the oven and flake into a large bowl. Add the chilli, coriander and lime juice, and season with salt and pepper.

Once soft, drain the potatoes and remove the lemongrass stalk. Add a drizzle of olive oil and mash. Then add the potato to your fish bowl, mixing together.

Sprinkle your flour onto a flat surface. When the ingredients in your bowl are cool enough to touch, crack your egg into the bowl and combine with your hands. Collect a small handful into a ball and squash between the palms of your hands to make a fishcake shape. Lightly dip both sides into the flour and put on a plate ready to fry. Repeat until you have created all of your fishcakes.

Add a drop of olive oil into a pan (I used a griddle pan) and pop your fishcakes in. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side.

For your veg, simply add it to a wok with a dash of olive oil and soy sauce. Cook for a couple of minutes until the veg is starting to soften, but still with some crunch!

Serve up and enjoy with some sweet chilli sauce!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Festive Feasts

Firstly, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and are looking forward to a very happy new year!

Secondly, I have literally not stopped eating since about mid-December when it all started (so you might find my January recipes are verging on the healthy side to shed those festive pounds)! And I don't know about you, but this is the first time I've actually stopped since all the fun and celebrations... it just seems to keep going and as I'm back in Derbyshire I've been visiting all the family and cooking LOADS of food for everyone... Sunday Dinner for my Grandparents, meatloaf for my boyfriend's Nan, a huge Indian and Chinese feast for friends at New Year... and more! So I've got a ton of tasty Christmas food to share with you, but you'll probably have to come back to it next year now to cook it!

Pre-Christmas Dinner Party

Anyway, let's get going with the food! In the run up to Christmas I put on a little spread for some friends in my London flat.... not a Christmas Dinner but a buffet of all of our favourite Christmas flavours to get us in the mood!

As a kind of starter, I made some delicious Brie, Cranberry & Walnut Filo Parcels, loosely following this recipe. These were easy to prepare in advance and only took a short while in the oven to make some rich festive nibbles that mixed a gooey center with a crispy shell... yum!

Another pre-prepared finger nibble we had was Smoked Mackerel Pâté on Mini Toasts. The pâté was a recipe of my own, inspired by a friend at work who had it for lunch a few weeks ago on rye bread, topped with watercress. My recipe is simple - separate your smoked mackerel with a fork and put in a bowl. Add a dollop of cream cheese and mix together with a squeeze of lemon juice and a good twist of black pepper. You want a creamy consistency so use enough cheese to ensure all of the fish is mixed in (perhaps 1 heaped tablespoon of cream cheese to 1 fillet of smoked mackerel).

I also spent a bit of prep time with a friend in front of the TV, wrapping streaky bacon around some mini sausages ready to cook when people arrived. You just can't beat Pigs in Blankets at Christmas!

Next, I baked a couple of turkey breasts (rather than bothering with the whole bird!) with a few garlic cloves, onion, plenty of seasoning and some fresh rosemary for about half an hour (at about 180 degrees). Make sure to cover loosely with foil to keep the turkey moist and delicious! To go with it, I made some of my mum's sage & onion stuffing with added bacon and chestnuts to give it a Christmassy twist! I have absolutely no idea what quantities I used for this, but here is a lovely Jamie recipe that I (very loosely) followed!

I served with some bread cobs and homemade Cranberry & Raisin Chutney (recipe from a book at work that you can find here) for guests to help themselves... super easy Turkey, Stuffing & Cranberry Sarnies!

As we had boyfriends along for the feast, there was a need for a lot of meat!! So we also made an amazing Coke Gammon Joint following a recipe that has now been taken down from the internet - but if you search for gammon cooked in coke you will have a huge choice of recipes to choose from... and I promise you, this was truly delicious!

And to finish off the feast - a couple of veggies! I made Sweet Potato Wedges with a Sour Cream & Chive Dip and some Honey Roasted Parsnips (that I forgot about because we were drinking too much wine so they were VERY crunchy by the time I took them out of the oven!!).

For the wedges, chop your sweet potatoes into long thin shapes and arrange on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of paprika and season before shaking the tray to coat evenly. Pop in the oven for about 20-30minutes at about 180 degrees or until they start to crisp around the edges (you should still have a soft center). To make the dip just chop some fresh chives and mix into sour cream... then dip away!

For the parsnips, chop into strips and bake them for about 20mins in a bit of olive oil and some seasoning. Then add a dollop of clear honey and mix to coat all of the parsnips before putting back in the oven for another 10minutes (not another 20 like we did!) and they should just be turning deliciously crunchy and sweet!

Finally, to finish off I made Mary Berry's Yule Log after watching her Christmas TV programme with Paul Hollywood. The recipe should be available here, but the key is to roll your cake while it is still warm with some baking paper. Then leave to cool completely before unrolling, adding your cream and rolling back up again. This will ensure a smooth roll without cracks! I added some dessicated coconut for a snow effect and to add another flavour to the chocolatey pud!


Mum's Christmas Dinner

Here are just a couple of photos from Christmas Day to remind you of all of the delicious food we all consumed!


Decorating the Christmas Cake

I'm not going to dwell on this because a) I didn't make the cake (it was Mum's that she didn't decorate before going away) and b) it looks so pretty I just wanted to show you!!

Anyway, that's it from me for this Christmas!! I hope you all had a good one and enjoyed the pictures! If you fancy trying out some of these dishes then go for it - I apologize that the recipes don't have accurate measurements, but they're all fairly easy to make, so enjoy!

Happy New Year!!