Monthly Archives: July 2011


For the amazing few who read this blog, I will disappoint and say that I will not be here for the next month. I’m living the dream and spending some time in Italy, doing some sun bathing in Tuscany, and then studying in Rome. It will be hot, most of the time at least, and it will be a chance for me to get my culture on. If you don’t know much about me, I am a history (and French) student, and am avid pursuer of all things tourist and enlightening, having ideals of me reigning a museum in the future. I am not a culture vulture who visits places just for the novelty of saying “I went there”. I have a sincere passion for the past and I love living in the UK which has such a rich heritage, but Italy also has an amazing story, and luckily my enthusiasm for art and history makes me and my equally enthusiastic dad the perfect guide for my poor mother, sister and her boyfriend.

What is also a really good part of my trip is that I get to be in the land of food. Yes, that is also what is so great about Italy. I foresee a vast usage (and purchase) of these….

and these…

I can picture the whole aisle dedicated to this in all shapes and sizes….

…And it will taste amazing. These will also be delicious, and very cheap…

And we can stock up on specialities…

However, Italy may be amazing at food. But I do not have high hopes for certain things…

I’m a massive dairy fan, and I’m afraid that even though Italy does good cheese, I can only count these on one hand…if I had 3 fingers removed…Luckily they import. And in the past year porridge and I have a developed a unbreakable bond…

…I’m a bit apprehensive of the sort of oats that the Italians sell…

I hope you all have an amazing August. I hope to! Happy Summer!


Filed under Other

Real Shepherd’s Pie

I say real shepherd’s pie because people have a tendency to put beef in it and call it shepherds pie, we all know that when it’s got beef in it that it’s called cottage pie. I found this extremely hard to make, because it just made me crave lamb. When I ate meat, lamb was my favourite, moussaka in particular. And then the other day when I was serving canapés, I had to serve these mini lamb burgers and they smelt soo good. I’m thinking about giving myself a treat once a year when I eat lamb. Because life’s too short to prevent yourself from eating something so nice as lamb. All the other meats, however, can shove it.


-400g minced lamb

-900g potatoes, peeled and chopped

-1 onion

-2 carrots

-1 clove of garlic

-1 cup of frozen peas

-2 tbsp milk

-1 tbsp butter

-salt and pepper

-2 big splashes of Worcestor sauce

-2 tbsp tomato purée

-500ml beef stock

-Cheddar cheese (optional)


Pre-heat oven to gas mark 7. Put the potatoes in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil, and leave to simmer for 25 minutes. While they’re simmering, chop the onions, garlic and carrots and fry in a saucepan until soft.

-The potatoes should still be cooking, however, if they’re done (they’re very soft when poked with a fork) then drain them and continue with the sauce.

-Add the lamb to the onions and carrots and brown. Scrape away the fat that rises to the surface. ‘Urgh’ is one word for it.

-Once all the lamb has browns add the stock and bring to the boil before adding tomato purée, peas Worcester sauce, salt and pepper.

-Leave to boil for 30 minutes with the lid on, and then take it off and leave to boil for another 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it as time passes.

-Whilst it’s cooking away, mash your potatoes with the butter and milk, adding a bit of pepper.

-Once everything done, get a baking dish and add all of the lamb mixture. Top with the mash potato, using a knife to spread. Put in the oven for 20 minutes, before adding cheese and cooking for another 20 minutes.

-The pie is reading when the top has browned.


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Filed under Meat, Store Cupboard


Damn, your bread’s gone stale. How do you redeem this? What a waste of money, I mean does the bread manufacturing company think you can eat 12 slices in 3 days? Really?  I’m a big bread fan, but not, surprisingly, of sandwiches. I like fresh loaves with hummus, or in this salad. Stale bread which has absorbed the juices of the tomatoes and the vinegar of the dressing. Mmmm.

It’s a really good recipe because you can do it with whatever you want. You can do it posh and add capers, yellow pepper and fresh basil, or you can do it to it’s bare minimum-tomatoes, onions, bread and a dressing. This was lovely, I nearly ate the whole thing, I’ve been seriously craving salt and the capers and vinegar-absorbed bread really hit the spot.

-4-5 Salad Tomatoes

-150g stale bread (If you don’t have stale bread, put your bread in a microwave for 1-2 minutes)

-1 yellow pepper

-1 dessert spoon of capers

-1 clove of garlic

-1 red onion

-60 ml red wine vinegar (but you can use whatever you have to hand)

-120 ml extra virgin olive oil

-handful of fresh basil leaves


-Chop up your onion into crescents, and put in your salad bowl with minced garlic and the red wine vinegar whilst you chop your other ingredients.

-Chop your tomatoes, pepper and fresh  basil leaves and add to the bowl with the capers.

-Tear your bread into bitesize pieces and add to the salad bowl, followed by the olive oil. Using your hands mix the salad reallllly well, making sure the vinegar and oil have spread throughout the ingredients. Sprinkle a bit of salt on top and preferably wait half an hour before serving.


Filed under Italian, Mediterranean, Quick, Vegan, Vegetarian

Berry Banana Butter Sorbet(?)

This isn’t a sorbet. It’s a healthy smooth thing that will fix your ice cream cravings. It will stop you from setting out the door and buying £4 Ben and Jerry’s. All you need is 4 ingredients to make this bad boy. Or girl. I think this ‘sorbet’ looks more like a girl. I’ve gotten really into freezing old bananas and then processing them as a substitute for ice cream and making super smooth and ice-cold things like this. All you need to do is PEEL the bananas and break up into pieces and freeze in a bag or box. (DO NOT just shove an old banana in the freezer, it is impossible to peel if you do this).  I made this for my mum and I thought she was gonna eat the glass cos she loved it so much.


1 frozen banana

-1 cup of frozen berries

-1 dessert spoon of peanut butter

-1/2-1 tbsp milk

-1 tsp of yoghurt (optional)


-With a food processor, process the frozen banana and berries until they look like crumbs and are just starting to come together.

-Add the peanut butter and continue to process. If it comes to a stand still you might,no you WILL need to start scraping (it’s inevitable) the sides of the food processor.

-Once it seems a bit stiff and doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere, add the milk and yoghurt if using. Blend until all is processed and looks like sorbet and scrape into a glass or bowl. Nom nom nom….

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Filed under Healthy Sweets, Quick, Vegan, Vegetarian

Let’s Eat Kale Crisps

Mmm, Kale. No, I will be honest and say that I haven’t conciously eaten kale before this moment. I had the inkling it tastes like cabbage, or spinach-both of which I like- so I thought:- “Well I don’t need to try it then”. Oh how wrong I was, here I have made salt and vinegar kale crisps. I don’t eat crisps willingly, I’m not sure how much they cost, I’m guessing in the region of 50p. Well a 200g bag of kale costs 97p. I wanted to get a kale head, or bunch(?), but Tesco’s only sold in the bag. Kale (how many times can I say kale in this post?) is also a superfood…where can you go wrong with this vegetable?


-100g Kale

-1 tbsp oil

-1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar

-2 tsp salt crystals

-some pepper


-Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 7, 220 c. and like a baking dish with grease proof paper.

-Cut your kale into bite-size pieces, or if it was in a bag, just leave it. Then throw them into a bowl with 1 tsp salt, the oil and the vinegar. Mix with a spoon, making sure all the leaves are covered.

-Lay the leaves on the baking sheet, try to make sure they are not layering you can.

-Place in the oven for 15-20mins. When they are mostly crispy but have a slight uncooked feeling to them, take them out. Leave to cool and they will turn crunchy like a packet of s + v crisps!


Filed under Snacks and Starters, Vegan, Vegetarian

Mexican Quinoa

I do love me some Mexican food. Everyone knows that I do. And everyone else loves it too. What’s not to love? Spice, flavour etce etc. Well, a few days ago I  had quite an off day. Actually it was fine, but my internet had still been playing up, and so I resorted to filling out a free health care form which was too bureaucratic for me, and then my work shift was not that great…And then I finished reading Anne Frank on the way back from work at about 12am, and I was almost in tears. And then weirdly enough, a man who shouted at me for jumping the bus queue(I didn’t) last week happened to sit next to me this week (he had just told off another man for doing the same thing). This just got all my anger riled up, and I still had not had any dinner. So when I got home I had a reasonable meal, hummus, bread, cheese salad-but I was not satisfied. My mum and sister have the ability to be content with NOTHING(i.e salad) for dinner, so to prevent this from happening again I decided to prepare a dinner that would make me happy when I got home. I made this, and it’s tossed in a chilli and lime dressing so it tastes really fresh but also quite spicy.  So, although work had given me some lovely risotto canapes I was not full enough to not eat this. It was great!

Ingredients (feeds 3)

2 Sweet Potatoes

-stalks of asparagus, maybe about 7-8

-Half a can of black beans (200g)

-1 cup of quinoa, cooked to packet instructions


For the dressing(approx.)

Juice of half a lime

-2 tsp of powdered cayenne pepper

-1 tbsp white wine vinegar

-1 tbsp oil

-a handful of cherry tomatoes

-1 tsp honey


-Preheat the oven to gas mark 8/220c. Peel your sweet potatoes and chop them into chunks.

-Place in a baking dish with the asparagus, and drizzle with a dainty bit of oil and smother in paprika.

-Leave this to cook until the potatoes are done, around 30-40 minutes, turning halfway through. However, after 20 minutes place your black beans in the dish and cover in paprika. Continue to cook until potatoes are crispy, but soft.

-Once done mix this contents of the baking dish with the quinoa and prepare your dressing.

-In a food processor, process everything, apart from the honey until pulverised. Then add the honey. Do a taste test, and see if you need more vinegar etc.

-Pour the dressing over the quina mixture and mix well.

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Filed under Grains, Mexican, Pulses, Quick, Store Cupboard, Vegan, Vegetarian

Spicy Salsa Roast Chicken (with chorizo)

This is medium on the thrifty scale. I think if you remove the chorizo then you have a very affordable, healthy and filling chicken dish. I’m only really putting it up because my mum asked me to, I told her to start making this for my dad when I go back to university because it’s easy to make.  I was about to start explaining it when she said “as long as you put it on your site then you don’t need to explain it”. I wasn’t gonna put it on, but decided I might as well. Also, the internet was cut off for one reason or another and I got bored so I started taking photos.

Ingredients (serves 2)

-2 chicken breast fillets

-1 onion

-1 clove of garlic

-1 big tomato

-2 tsp hot chilli sauce

-1 tsp paprika

-1 tsp of cayenne pepper

-1 tsp basil

-50g Chorizo sausage (optional)


-I think a food processor/blender is required here as you want to make a paste for the chicken to sit in.  So roughly chop the onion, garlic and tomato, then stick them and all the other ingredients minus the chicken in a food processor and blend until you have a paste like consistency.

-I chose to leave the chicken in the marinade for the afternoon before I cooked it, it can be left to marinade in the sauce for up to 24hrs, but this is not necessary. If you want to do the former, put the marinade and chicken into a zip and seal bag and leave it in the fridge.

-After it has marinaded, or if you’re cooking it immediately, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 8/220 c.

– Put the chicken in a small baking dish. If you’re using chorizo, chop it up into medallions, and stuff it in the chicken. There is usually an open slit in the fillet which makes it easy for the chorizo to sit in. Put the dish in the oven, it should take an hour/ hour and a half.

– However, after about every 20 minutes take the dish out, and, with a spoon, pour the juices over the chicken (baste it). This will prevent the chicken from drying out and allow the chorizo flavours be absorbed by the chicken.

-It is done when the tomato paste has a browned a bit and looks like the photo!


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Filed under Meat, Mediterranean

Homemade Onion Rings

These are good little gems for a picnic. Their biggest downfall, however, was being substantially underflavoured. Think you can’t go wrong with onion rings? Well you can. I added herbs, but it needed more. So take it from me, don’t omit the salt in this recipe. I can’t really add that much to onion rings, they’re not original but they’re essential.

On another note I spent some of my earnings on a food processor, it whips and everything. I foresee a lot of meringues and whipped cream.


-1 big onion/ 2 small onions

-150g breadcrumbs

-200ml milk

200g flour

-2 tsp salt

-2 tsp basil

-2 tsp thyme


-Preheat oven to gas mark 8/220c, and line 1-2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper.

-Mix the flour, milk and salt together. You need a paste-like substance that I like to call ‘gloop’. However, it should be on the liquidy side of gloop, so if it very pasty add some more milk, or if it is too liquidy add some more flour. This is your ‘glue’ for picking up the breadcrumbs, so if it is too liquidy then the breadcrumbs will not stick to the onions.

-Mix the breadcrumbs with the herbs

-Peel your onion/s and chop parallel from the end, I.E if you have both ends facing left and right, then just chop next to these ends? I’m terrible at explaining things, but basically you want rings!

-With these slices separate each layer so you have lots of rings.

-Dip each ring into the gloop, and then into the breadcrumbs. Place on the baking sheet and continue this process until you have finished rings. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs have browned.Very simple, very good.

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Filed under Quick, Snacks and Starters, Vegetarian

The Mighty Mushroom

The mushroom, it’s one of those vegetables. Even I have my doubts with them. Raw? No. No thank you at all. Cooked? Yeah okay, but chopped up and with garlic. Stuffed? I love stuffed food…yeah okay! I think if a mushroom were a person, it would be Britney Spears, it has its loyal fans, and then it has those fans who like it from time to time depending on its state.  The reason why I chose mushrooms are because they are so cheap. And then the filling it really versatile, I made a butter bean mash and mixed it with fried garlic and courgette and added herbs and paprika. I hid a roasted tomato in the mushroom, and then topped it with a breadcrumb and parmesan crust. It was lovely, cooked mushrooms have that lovely smoky flavour which really hits the spot. Lovely.

Ingredients (Left lots of leftovers)

-8 portabello mushrooms-tear out the stem of the these and use in the filling.

-2 tomatoes (optional)

Bean Filling

-1 can of butter beans, drained and rinsed

-2 tsp milk

-1 garlic, diced

– Half a courgette, diced

-The stems of the mushrooms, chopped roughly

-1 tsp Paprika

-1 tsp rosemary, thyme and basil


-4 tbsp of breadcrumbs

-1 tbsp of finely grated parmesan

-1 tbsp grated mozzarella

-2 tsp herb of your choice

-a squeeze of lemon juice


-If you want the tomatoes, slice finely and place on a baking dish, drizzle with oil and add some pepper. Put in a pre-heated oven at gas mark 7.  After 20 minutes they should look like this.

-Put the butter beans in a saucepans and fill with water, bring this to the boil and simmer for five minutes. Drain, add milk and mash with a potato masher.

-Sauté garlic, courgette and mushroom stems in some olive oil until courgettes are browning. Perhaps 5 minutes.

-Mix the topping ingredients together.

-Get your mushrooms and put them in a roasting dish. Put a roasted tomato slice in each mushroom, top with bean mash filling and top with the topping. EASY.

-Cook for 20 minutes at gas mark 6-7. Until brown on top and the breadcrumbs start to turn brown!

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Filed under Quick, Store Cupboard, Vegetarian

How to Cook Butternut Squash

Root vegetables are cheap in Britain, especially something like butternut Squash. You see it in the supermarket, this bulbous vegetable and it’s only £1, but you’re like: “how in god’s name do you EAT it? Let alone COOK it”.  Well, question no more because I have a simple recipe here on how to cook butternut squash. Today-ROAST IT. I love roasting vegetables, and butternut squash is lovely roasted. It’s filling, and works really well as a side or in a big salad. I am going to experiment with crusted butternut squash soon…


1 butternut squash

-3 tablespoons of olive oil

-rosemary and basil


Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 8-9/220 c.

Here’s how to chop the squash. Hold it horizontally, and chop the squash from the smaller end so that you get large medallions, and keep chopping until you reach the seeded end (the bulbous part of the vegetable). With these medallions, chop them into quarters.

-Now with the seeded end. Right now you should have a ‘butternut bowl’, i.e a roundish butternut with a hole in the top. Slice this in half from the top the bottom, so you have two halves which have bowl of seeds in them. Scoop and discard the seeds, and then chop the remaining butternut into chunks.

– Put the butternut in a roasting pan, and cover with the oil and sprigs of rosemary and fresh basil leaves if you have them. Make sure the chunks are covered, and then put in the oven for 1 ½ hours, or until the outside skin is brown(like picture below).

-Lovely lovely, eat hot or cold and definitely EAT THE SKIN, IT’S MY FAVOURITE PART.


Filed under Butternut Squash