Monthly Archives: June 2011

Chicken and Chorizo Stoo

Even though I no longer eat chicken or chorizo, which I don’t regret, I made a breakthrough in cooking this chicken. A vegetarian must really be into food to get excited about the way chicken was cooked. Don’t you hate it when you fry chicken in a pan, and it just seems a bit tough? A bit chewy? And it’s not cos it’s overcooked, but probably cos it’s dry has only absorbed oil. Well, I have solved this problem. And it came through in this lovely(hopefully) Spanish chicken and chorizo stew. Whilst cooking the chicken, I added a glug of red wine, and instead of frying and drying out, it slowly froiled (fry and boiled) in the liquid. When testing to see if the chicken was cooked I did not need to cut through a piece to see if was white all the way through, the piece just fell apart revealing its moist interior. Success. I guess if you don’t have wine, don’t worry, maybe a splash of chicken stock and boiling water. But red wine gave it that Spanish smell.


-2 fillets of chicken

-chorizo sausage (how much you want)

-1 onion

-1 garlic

-1 can of sweet corn

-1 can of butter beans

-2  cans of chopped tomatoes

-2 tbsp red wine

-3 tsp of paprika

-3 tsp cayenne pepper

-1 dessert spoon hot chilli sauce

-2 tsp of basil


-Chop onion and garlic and fry in olive oil in a large saucepan. Add some salt so they don’t stick to the surface.

-Once they are starting to brown, add the chicken and stir, after 1 minute add 1 tbsp or a generous glug of red wine and cover the pan. Leave for about 5 minutes and stir the chicken again. Check the chicken after another 3-4 minutes, if it’s falling apart like in the description, and you can see no pink, then it’s ready.

-Add the remaining ingredients, including another glug of wine, and stir. Once it is boiling turn to a low heat and leave to simmer for an hour or so.

-Serve with bread. Nice.

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Filed under Meat, Mediterranean, Pulses

Ritzy Fishcakes- ‘the best thing you never had’

These are absolutely lovely. They’re made with a crunchy crust made from Ritz crackers, meaning you don’t have to slave away over the hob turning the cakes over. I adapted the recipe from Nigella’s fishcakes in Feast. She uses both smoked and unsmoked haddock, but I chose just smoked, because I like that flavour. TBH, I wasn’t sure of my measurements I just went with the floew, but the thing about this is that you can adapt it to however way you want. You honestly don’t have to follow it to a T, like a bread or souffé recipe. If you want a lot more fish, which we did, use less potatoes. My ingredients made 11 cakes in total. Your staple ingredients are only: fish, potatoes and crackers. Thrifty? Yes indeedy. P.S let me know how these photos are turning out, they were the hardest to photograph.

Ingredients (makes 11 fishcakes)

-1kg smoked haddock

-1 kg potatoes

-500 ml milk

-200g (a packet) of Ritz Crackers

-1 handful/tablespoon of chopped parsely OR 2 tsp of dried parsely

-2 tsp made English mustard

-salt and pepper


– Preheat the oven to gas mark 6. Peel the potatoes, chop them up and boil them in water for around 20 minutes or until they are soft when prodded with a fork. Once they are done mash them up, I think at this point you should add milk, a knob of butter and pepper so the mash tastes nice, but it’s your opinion.

-Whilst the potatoes are boiling poach the fish in the milk. In order to do this, put the milk and fish in a pan with some pepper and a few bits of parsley. Make sure that the fish is covered, but don’t DROWN it. Bring to the boil and simmer from about 6 minutes, turning from time to time. You can tell when it’s done if you take a chunk from the fish, and if it has lost its ghosty translucency, then it’s done.

-Drain the fish in a sieve and flake it. Attempt to take the bones out of the fish if you can.

-Add the flaked fish to  the mashed potatoes, adding the parsley, salt and mustard. Make sure the mixture is well combined.

-Now, take the plastic bag out the Ritz packet, and with a fork poke a hole in it so you let the air out. Then a get a rolling pin and smash the mixture until it is crushed in crumbs. Empty the crumbs into one or two baking dishes depending on how  many cakes you’re making, I needed to two dishes.

-With your hands, make some patties with the fish and potato mixture, and put in the baking dish, making sure the crumbs are pressed firmly into the cakes and leave in the dish of crumbs. Don’t worry, there will be lots of crumbs remaining.

-Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the exterior begins to crack. Enjoy with tartare sauce and greens.


Filed under Fish, Snacks and Starters

Perfect Black Bean Burger

I went into this meal with 2 aims: To not use eggs and to not use oil. I succeeded (almost, but you could definitely do it without both.)

At the moment, in England, there has been a rise in the affection for the sweet potato (in my opinion). It’s obviously down to health-crazed society that we live in, because sweet potatoes are a healthier alternative to the white spuds. They have lower GI, higher Vitamin C and beta-carotene. Win-win? I chose to cover these burgers with a pit of polenta/corn flour, so that they had a crispy outside and held together better. You can make these ahead of time, and then cook when you’re ready.

Ingredients (serves 6)

2 sweet potatoes, peeled

-1 onion, chopped

-1x clove of garlic, chopped

-1x can of black beans

-1 carrot peeled, grated

-1 courgette, grated

-2 tsp cumin

-2 tsp paprika

-2 tsp coriander

-juice of half a lime (or a whole one, I just happened to have half a lime in my fridge)

-100 g polenta


-Chop the sweet potato into chunks and boil for 10-15 minutes, or until they’re soft.

-While the sweet potatoes are cooking, with a masher-or a blender, mash the black beans until they are half pulverised but still retain some or their original form.

-In a bowl, mix all the ingredients up in a bowl, except for the spices, lime and polenta.

-Once the sweet potatoes are done, drain them and mash them until smooth.

-Mix the potatoes, into the mixture in the bowl, add the spices and lime juice and stir really, really well. Make sure that all the ingredients are combined.

-Form burger sized portions with your hands, and dip them in a bowl of the polenta, making sure the whole burger is covered. Repeat this until your mixture is finished.

-At this point, you can decide how you want to cook them. You can either fry them in oil until hot all the way through and brown on the outside, cook in the oven gas mark 8 or grill. I chose to use a griddle pan and fry them in a bit of oil, so that I could brown the outsides, then I put them in the oven for half an hour. I would recommend this method so you can have crispy burgers but don’t have to slave away over a pan.



Filed under Mexican, Pulses, Quick, Vegan, Vegetarian

Almond Butter Modified

Well. This was quite interesting. I will be truthful, this was really nice and it tasted how I wanted, but it didn’t look how I wanted. I got my inspiration from this recipe, but you can see Angela has a really good processor. After researching other almond butter recipes, I realised my processor is actually a BLENDER NOT A PROCESSOR. DUH. Anyway a blender is awful in comparison to the super-power processors you should use. Anyway mine was kinda going in the super smooth direction and it was starting to solidify,  but I could tell it was going to take a LONG time due to my really bad processor.  Perhaps if I continued to process it would have turned out like that, but I’m not patient. I was annoyed with my result because:

-I had to use oil, whilst Angela didn’t.

-It didn’t have my desired texture


That’s right! I realised that mine was going in a slightly different direction, but I wanted to get to my original aim: making it my own. In order to do this I added prunes, figs and cinnamon. YUM.  I think if I didn’t do this, I probably would have got the ‘correct’ (what IS a good nut butter?) consistency and colour, but I didn’t want it to be like any other almond butter. So by all means, ignore the prunes, figs and cinnamon and process those almonds till your heart’s content if you want normal almond butter. At the end of the day, mine tasted like almond butter(if you’ve never tried like almond butter, it’s just like peanut butter, but slightly different) but with a sugary hint. Ever had a Reese’s cup? Sweet and savoury? Well this tasted like that, and it was like half of everything that a Reese’s cup has (salt, fat, additives etc.). So even though it doesn’t look how I planned, I can’t wait to spread this on some bread or a cracker as a sensible snack.


-1 cup of almonds

Apparently you can end here, but I used:

-3 tsp of sunflower oil

-2 dessert spoons of water

-3 prunes

-1 big dried fig

-1 tsp of cinnamon


-Put the almonds in a processor, process. This could take up to 15 minutes, remember to keep turning off the processor and stirring your mixture.

-Once your mixture is starting to solidify add the other ingredients and continue to process and stir until you have your desired consistency.

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Filed under Snacks and Starters, Store Cupboard, Vegan, Vegetarian

Black-Eyed Bean Hummus

Don’t even get me started on hummus/houmous. Give me bread and houmous and I would be so content. The other day we bought some posh spinach hummus and it was green, similarly we also bought a beetroot one which was pink. This got me thinking about how versatile it is, and after a bit of research I discovered you can make other types of hummus which don’t use chickpeas. So I ventured into my store cupboard and found black-eyed beans. I also have so much hummus in my fridge(Tesco’s own for those who like it chunky, or the kosher one who like it smooth), so I thought I should use something that wasn’t made from chickpeas.  I’d originally wanted cannellini beans so I could have an Italian themed dinner, but I used the last of them in my Store Cupboard Soup recipe. Black-Eyed Beans seem to have stemmed from a lot of places, according to Wikipedia, it seems they are widely grown in Asian countries, but is more commercially grown across the US, so this American style hummus.

Anyway, on Friday we had bought some tahini, so I decided to take the plunge and make my own dip.Water also proved to be important. I learnt the hard way, because I was like “WHY OH WHY ISN’T IT PUREEING!?! IT NEEDS TO BE MORE LIQUIDY BUT MORE OLIVE OIL WILL RUIN THE FLAVOUR”, and then, like a guardian angel, I saw a bottle of water and poured a bit in and hey presto it turned to a lovely consistency. All you really need to buy for this recipe is the pulse of your choice and tahini, all the other things should be available in your cupboard. I think you have to have a food processor for this job, but I bet a potato masher could work!


1 x 400g can of black-eyed beans, or any type of bean that takes your fancy!

-1/4 cup of Tahini

-1 tbsp lemon juice

-2 cloves of garlic minced (I added 3 and it was a bit too pungent)

-A handful of fresh basil finely chopped (I put mine in a food processor), or half a 1 tbsp of dried basil if that wont do

-2 tsp of salt

-4 tbsp oil

-2 tbsp water


-Drain the beans in a sieve and rinse.

-Put all the ingredients except the oil in a food blender, and whizz. You will have to keep on turning it off and stirring it with a wooden spoon in order to move the mixture around.

-Once it has become a bit more maleable add the oil and whizz some more, turning it off to stir and whizzing some more.

– Add the water, but it really depends how much you would like. If you like your hummus like a cream, then you might want to add a bit more so everything is completely processed, but I like mine more chunky so I didn’t add as much.

-So there you have it, hummus is so easy, I can tell I’m gonna get too into this (in my head, all I hear is EDAMAME BEAN HUMMUS!!)

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Filed under Mediterranean, Pulses, Quick, Snacks and Starters, Vegan, Vegetarian

Pizza Parmesan Pull-Apart Dough Balls

This is a very simple recipe, simple because of all the doughy sort of recipes, pizza dough is the one thing I can actually do. Thank God. These dough balls are just pulled from the baking dish and remain in their spherical shape. I’ve been working as a waitress for catered events, and it really isn’t a great job because I love food and I see all these great canapés being eaten and I die a little inside (but what kills me more is when someone ordered me to sort out the remaining cheese from the cheese board, it floored me). So when my friend said we can no longer make pizza, but we are having a bbq, make something like garlic bread? I was like CANAPE TIME. Enjoy. By the way this is really easy and cheap. Here they are in action with some garlic butter!


400g plain flour

-1 x 7g sachet of yeast

-3 tablespoons of oil (plus more for greasing and oiling the balls)

-400 ml lukewarm water

-1 tsp salt

-Italian ‘erbs, like oregano and basil

-Parmesan (optional)


-In a jug, mix the yeast, oil and water (YOW) together with a fork.

-Put the flour, herbs and salt in a bowl, and make a well in the middle.

In stages add the YOW to the flour mixture, and with a fork bind the ingredients together. I found I had a lot of  YOW left over, so just do it slowly, or you’re left with a gloopy mess.

-Once the dough is coming together in a bowl, put the fork down, dust your hands with flour and sprinkle some on the dough and start to knead the mixture. Use your instinct, if it is too sticky and you’re getting nowhere, add flour, if it is really stiff add some YOW. The dough should be really silky and come easily from the sides.

-Put a cloth over the bowl and store in a warm place for about an hour.

-Pre-heat oven to gas mark 7/ 220 c/424 f. If you grab a dish, it could be one that is shaped like a dougnut, or just an ordinary cake tin, and oil it and sprinkle a bit of flour on the inside. Next make a oil and herb mixture, this is about a tablespoon of oil mixed with some dried green herbage.

-After an hour your dough should have doubled in size. At this point I grated about 3 handfuls of parmesan on top of the dough and kneaded it into the mixture.  If you don’t have parmesan, knead it anyway. Using a bit of flour to make the job easier.

-Now it gets oily. Grab a small lump of dough, about a reallllyyyy heaped teaspoon size, and dip it in the oil and herb mixture. With your hands form into a perfect sphere, and plop in your baking dish. Continue to do this until you have run out of dough, piling the balls on top of each other.

-Put in the oven for about 40 minutes and you have your perfect summer side dish!

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Filed under Bread, Pastries and Pizza, Cheese, Italian, Snacks and Starters, Vegetarian

Bread for Beginners

I call this Bread for Beginners, because I’m the beginner. Even if I have been trying for a while now, bread still seems to baffle me. The other day, for example, I kneaded a wholemeal loaf for TEN MINUTES, and it didn’t rise. We came to the conclusion that it was the yeast, and in the meantime I have resorted to making yeast-less bread in order to perfect my recipes. I made some successful soda bread, but this here is Georgian Bread. My Georgian friend makes this Georgian cheese bread, so it’s actually meant to be filled with cheese, but I liked the dough recipe so much that I thought I would try it without. It did mean it was doughy in the middle, but that was expected due to its original purpose. The nice thing about this bread is that it smells like cake when you take it out the oven. Bread ingredients are not expensive, they are just not what you would normally have in the cupboard if you’re a student. This recipe uses yoghurt, but normal bread recipes don’t, so don’t worry. More trials and errors from my bread escapades are sure to follow. My oven is so annoying cos it will make half the loaf rise and the other half stay down, even though I turned it around. Still, in a bid to make this loaf rise I use extra bicarb and half self-raising flour.


-175g of self-raising flour

-175g of plain flour-plus extra for kneading

-1 egg

-2 tsp of Bicarbonate of soda

-1 tsp salt

-250g plain yoghurt

-25g of soft butter diced


-Preheat oven to gas mark 7/220 c./425 f.

-In a bowl, mulch together the butter, yoghurt and egg with a fork until it has turned into a silky mixture.

-Add both of the flours, bicarb and salt and with a wooden spoon, fold the mixture, making sure it is really well combined.

-Now put the spoon aside, and get your hands in. Kneed it with your hands, if you don’t know how to kneed look at a tutorial video. But basically, you’re aiming to get as much air as possible into the mixture, so I just keep on folding the dough over and over trying to trap lots of air into the mixture. Do this for about 5 minutes. The dough should be silky and soft, and should come away from the edges easily. If you’re finding that it is too sticky, add some more plain flour. Or if it is just too try, add a bit of milk or water.

-Shape your bread into whatever shape you want.

-Place a lightly floured baking sheet on a baking tray, and place your dough on it. Put in the oven for 25-30 minutes, check on it half way through to make sure it is rising on all sides, turn it around if need be. The bread is done when it is brown on top, and when you tap the base the loaf sounds hollow.


Filed under Bread, Pastries and Pizza, Vegetarian

Surprise Bolognese

You wont believe what I, or what my mum years ago, put in that makes this bolognese take on a whole new form. And you cook it differently too, adding the pasta in with the sauce and letting it cook for a bit too. Like I mention a lot of times, I’m actually a vegetarian, but I like to cook for my dad and this one doesn’t seem to fail. So the secret ingredient is baked beans, it sounds fine doesn’t it? It makes sense, and I remember in  my meat-eating days how nice it was. Here’s how you do it.


800g beef mince

-1 onion, 1 carrot and 2 cloves of garlic all chopped.

-1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

-1 x 410g tin of baked beans

-Some tomato puree

-Any thing that makes your spag bol special, I think lea and perrins, mustard and oxo cubes all work well.

-200g dried pasta, then cooked. Any shape or form that you like.


-Fry and sauté the chopped onion, carrot and garlic to some oil in a big saucepan and cook for 5-10 mins until brown.

-Add the mince and cook in the pan until the meat has turned brown.

-Add chopped tomatoes, any flavourings that you like and finally the baked beans.

-Leave to simmer for about 5 minutes, then add the pasta. Stir really thoroughly until you can see that all the pasta has accessed the sauce. Add a bit of hot water if it is looking dry.

-Leave to cook for about 20 minutes covered.

-What makes it nicer is if you top it with some tears of bread and grated cheese and bake uncovered in the oven for 2o minutes.


Filed under Italian, Meat, Rice and Pasta

Greek Pie

I  have a lot of Greek restaurants near me, and some Turkish ones too, which always make these feta and spinach triangles (spanakopita) which are so nice. With a bit of research I realised it is not impossible to make a spanakopita pie, which is what I did here. It was so nice, the only problem is that I would say it wasn’t THAT thrifty. The ways to make it cheaper are by buying “salad cheese” instead of feta, which basically tastes like feta but is made out of cow’s milk instead of sheep’s, and not purchasing the pine nuts.  To be honest, this was absolutely amazing, and it was ridiculously easy, so I would definitely recommend making it.


A knob of melted butter/margarine/oil

-4-5 sheets Filo pastry (just buy a whole pack, and separate 4 sheets from the pile)

-300g Feta/Salad cheese

-3 massive handfuls of spinach

-2 cloves of garlic

-3 eggs

-A handful  of pine nuts

-Lots of dried herbs(basil, thyme, oregano)

-Salt and pepper


-Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200 c/400 f

-Put the spinach in a saucepan and cook on a medium heat, crush the garlic into it with a garlic press, and continue to stir until all the spinach has wilted. Wilted is when it looks wet and has shrunk in size.

-Crumble the feta into a mixing bowl, add the eggs, spinach, pine nuts, some teaspoons of herbs and s + p  and mix thoroughly until it is combined really well. Make sure there is no orange floating about from the egg yolk.

-Put this aside and start with your filo papers. Prepare a pie dish by greasing the sides with the butter or oil, if you don’t have a pie dish, just make do with any deep dish pan the you have. In this case it might be necessary to use more sheets to make sure all the dish is covered.

-Place one sheet of the filo pastry, being very delicate, in a pie dish. Using a brush if you can, spread some of the oil or melted butter over the sheet. Just a bit will do.Try to push the pastry into the dish so that no air is left under the surface and it has completely filled the dish. Add another sheet, doing the same thing with the butter. Do this until you have used all 4 sheets. If using a circular dish, try to make sure all the edges are covered.  BE DELICATE.

-Now pour the feta and spinach mixture into the pie dish, and it should spread easily into all areas of the pie base. Now wrap the edges of the filo over the mixture so that it ressembles some sort of crust, like in the photo.

-Place in the oven and cook for 40 minutes, or until the mixture feels springy and golden and the crust is brown.


Filed under Bread, Pastries and Pizza, Cheese, Mediterranean, Vegetarian

Store cupboard Soup

I go through phases of liking soup, and getting really into it, and then disliking it cos I’ve had it too much. It’s been about a year since my last phase, but it’s kicking in again. I’m quite particular about my soup, in that I don’t really like it tinned cos they put loads of crap in it which isn’t real, and then I go for fresh from a shop, but it’s still got weird stuff in it. So where does that leave me? With organic, but then it costs so much to buy organic soup. Therefore, I like to make my own out of things in my house and it will last me 4 sittings. 4!!!

The basic thing you need here is vegetable stock. I use Bouillon, but anything will do. Of course if you want chicken soup, use chicken stock, but I’m not gonna tell you how to make chicken soup. Now, soup is very versatile, here are the ingredients I’ve used, but feel free to substitute and remove any items.

Ingredients for Tuscan Bean soup

-1 vegetable stock cube, or 4 tsp of vegetable stock powder

-1 litre of boiled water

-1 onion, peeled

-1 sprig of garlic

-1 carrot, peeled

-a chunk of courgette

-1 can of cannellini beans

-A large handful of cherry tomatoes, or 3 big tomatoes



-Make your stock by adding the boiling water to your cube or powder. Set aside.

Chop up all your vegetables, in any shape or form, preferably small cos it takes quicker to cook them in the pan.

-Add them all EXCEPT THE TOMATOES to some oil in a saucepan and cook on a medium heat, if you don’t know how much oil to use, I recommend pouring the oil for 2 short seconds, and that should be enough. Sprinkle salt on these vegetables so they don’t stick to the pan. Cover with a lid, this will keep them from drying out.

-Remember to stir the veg, do this until the carrots are soft or you’re bored. Now add your tomatoes, and continue to fry until the tomatoes are slightly shriveled and the juices are coming out. This should take around 5 minutes.

-Add your stock and beans, and cook on a medium heat and leave to simmer for however long you like.

NOW, at home I have one of those hand-held soup whizzers(?), so I tend to puree the soup a bit to give it a bit more thickness. If you don’t have one, why don’t you try using a potato masher?

-Separate into 2 tubs, freeze one and put the other in the fridge! Each tub should last 2 sittings.


Filed under Pulses, Quick, Snacks and Starters, Store Cupboard, Vegan, Vegetarian