Mrs. Jackson Cooks

Life through food

Show-off brunch: Aubergine and potato middle eastern inspired brunch

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This is a faffy brunch.  It takes a while, there’s lots of different bits to the recipe that are done separately and brought together at the end, and it involves poached eggs, which are the ultimate in egg faffiness.

However, I have made it time and again because it is utterly delicious and a fantastic way to impress people (even if that person is just you).  And also brilliant for hangovers (not so great to make it if you’re feeling really ill though…possibly one for that moment when you feel ok, and you realise you’re still drunk!).  Even thinking about it now is making my mouth water.  It’s that tasty.  So it’s worth the faffiness.  But not one for when you’re in a hurry.  I like to make it when I have an aubergine or two lurking in the fridge.

It’s by Yotam Ottolenghi – the king of faffy cooking, and to be fair, I think I have made this as he says, at least once, but mostly, I adapt it, and it’s still just as good.  I do still follow the recipe because it’s so faffy, it’s hard to remember it all, but I think have now mostly remembered it.  You can find it here:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jan/31/brunch-recipes-eggs-yotam-ottolenghiI

I have to say, I have never been able to find tahini in the shops, so just make my own with sesame seeds.  Which adds to the faffiness.  But a great job to give someone that’s hanging about annoying you in the kitchen.  If you want to make tahini, here’s a recipe:  http://homecooking.about.com/od/condimentrecipes/r/blcon110.htm

And here’s my adapted version:

Middle-eastern inspired Aubergine and potato brunch

Serves 2

  • 1 aubergine cut into 2cm ish cubes (if that’s possible with something round)
  • 2 medium potato, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2-3 tomatoes (depending on size), diced
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp siracha sauce (or use any tomato chilli sauce, not sweet chilli though)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • A lot of oil
  • 40g tahini paste (I make 1/2 the recipe above, which usually works out well)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 a lemon, juiced
  • 4 eggs (I also do a couple of slices of bacon and 1 egg per person at times)
  • 1 tsp sumac (optional)
  1. Place the aubergine in a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave to drain in the sink for about 30 minutes
  2. Whilst the aubergine is draining, boil the sliced potatoes for about 5-7 minutes, or until half cooked.  Then drain and refresh under cold water so they stay crunchy
  3. Next mix together the tomato, spring onion, and half the coriander in a small bowl.  Combine with the siracha sauce and white wine vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside
  4. Mix the tahini paste with the garlic, lemon juice and 2 tbsp of water with some salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  5. Tip the aubergine onto a plate with kitchen towel and dry off.
  6. Pour enough oil (should be sunflower, vegetable, groundnut etc) into a high sided pan to come up about an inch.  Heat on a high flame until bubbles form around a spoon end in the middle of the pan.
  7. Tip in the aubergine and fry until golden brown on all sides.  Then tip out onto fresh kitchen towel using a slotted spoon.
  8. Pour most of the oil, away (I normally save in a jar for later), leaving about 2 tsp in the pan.
  9. Fry the potatoes in the pan until browned and blistered on both sides, takes about 10 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, boil the water and make the poached eggs (and grill bacon if using)
  11. Split the potatoes between two plates.  Sprinkle over 1/4 of the tahini mix on the potatoes on each plate.  Next take the aubergine and place on top of the potatoes and sprinkle over the remaining tahini mix.
  12. Next take the tomato mix and place on top of the aubergines and potatoes.  Sprinkle over the reserved coriander
  13. Finally top with the eggs and bacon if using.
  14. And enjoy the fruits of your labour and faffing about.  Feel the hangover recede.
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Moussaka

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As I’m writing this, I’m making a cake for a good friend’s birthday. I’m having problems with the biscuit layers and just hoping that a bit longer in the freezer will sort them out! I’ll be posting that recipe on here too, have no fear – there is so much sugar and chocolate in it, whatever happens it will definitely taste good (I’ve tried the mixture – just to be sure I don’t kill anyone!).

But Moussaka – the reason for this post and not tomorrow’s one. I love this. It’s delicious, healthy, super simple to make, can be made in batches and eaten for the rest of the week or makes a great casual dinner that looks great, tastes great and doesn’t have you tied to the kitchen all night.

There’s no carbs in this so it’s perfect for those of you on low carb diets or no carbs in the evening diets. It’s low fat and lean proteins too. It has 513 calories per serving in it, so it makes a great dinner meal.

I got this from my Greek recipe book, which you can find here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Perfect-Padded-Cookbooks-Greek-Love/dp/1445422387/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366456152&sr=8-1&keywords=love+food+greek+cookbook

If you’re veggie you can easily substitute the mince for quorn or lentils, or if you’re wanting a more economical moussaka, or a change from the norm, you can do half mince and half lentils.

Moussaka

Serves 4

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 400g tin of tomatoes (chopped or plum)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 300ml low fat natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius
  2. Thinly slice the aubergines and dry fry in a large pan on a high heat until browned on both sides. Spread them out in the pan – you may need to do this in batches. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in the frying pan and on a medium heat, fry the onions and garlic together until softened but not browned.
  4. Add in the mince, turning up the heat and browning it, breaking it up with the spatula.
  5. Add in the tomatoes, and season to taste. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for about 20 minutes.
  6. Whisk together the eggs and yoghurt, with some seasoning.
  7. When the mince is cooked through stir through the parsley
  8. Place half of aubergine slices in the bottom of a baking dish in a single layer.
  9. Pile the mince mixture on top and then layer the remaining aubergine on top to cover it.
  10. Pour over the egg mixture covering the aubergine and sprinkle the parmesan on top.
  11. Cook in the oven for about 20-30 minutes until cooked through and golden on top.
  12. Serve immediately and enjoy memories of your holidays.
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92 calorie individual apple pies

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Since getting back from Ibiza I’ve really been trying to be good and get back into being healthy. The problem is, I’ve been depressed and craving sugar, and so I’ve ended up in front of the vending machine far too many times. In an attempt to rectify that, whilst not going totally cold turkey I found these fantastic pies.

They fill the craving hole whilst not ruining your good intentions and they are delicious, and super simple to make. You literally need an oven and that’s about it.

Our neighbour has an apple tree and many of his apples have ended up in our garden, some a bit worse for wear but still edible. So I thought it better to cook them down with a bit of sugar (I actually used sweetener, you can’t taste the difference). Then I added some strawberries that were very cheap in the supermarket but also a bit worse for wear and needed cooking. Both the apples and strawberries were very sweet so didn’t need much sweetener, just a bit to bring out the juices. I added a squeeze of lemon too.

And filo pastry is the best for pastry if you’re watching your weight, it’s a lot lighter than other pastries. I used olive oil spray instead of melted butter between the sheets. I honestly couldn’t tell any difference.

I made about 15 triangles. They’ll easily keep in a box for a few days and are great for taking to work for lunch or a snack.

Apple and strawberry pies

Makes about 15

  • 5-6 eating apples or 2 baking apples, cored and chopped
  • 125g strawberries, hulled and halved (or use strawberry jam)
  • 2 tbsp splenda or other sweetener
  • 4 sheets filo pastry
  • oil spray
  • 1 egg beaten
  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius
  2. Place the apple and strawberries with the sweetener in a saucepan on a medium heat, stiring occassionally until they break down and release their juices. Add a bit of water if its too dry. This takes about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  3. Carefully remove the filo pastry sheets from the package onto a clean, dry surface, one at a time. Spray the top of each one with 3-4 sprays of oil spray before placing the next sheet on top of it. Spray the top of the 4th sheet.
  4. Cut into thirds, lengthwise.
  5. Place a tablespoon of the apple and strawberry mix in the middle of the top third of pastry, towards the left end. Fold the corner of the pastry diagonally across to make a triangle and cover the mix. Cut along the edge which meets the pastry and press along the edges to seal. Place on a baking tray sprayed with oil spray. Brush with the beaten egg, pressing down the edges as you go. Repeat until all the pastry and mixture is used up.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes until cooked through and golden on top.
  7. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and then eat with a nice cup of tea, feeling your cravings subside.
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Easy peasy banana cake

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Hubby brought home a load of over ripe bananas from work last week, and so I made banana cake. I have such a simple and quick recipe that I use and the end result is always delicious. It’s moist and sticky and very bananary!

The main thing to this recipe is a food processor or blender or smoothie maker – basic an electric thing that wizzes. Even a hand blender would work. This is what makes it simple. Otherwise you’re back to the old fashioned way of creaming butter and adding eggs and hoping they don’t curdle. Basically, weigh everything out (I did this in one bowl, putting everything on top of each other), bung it in a blender or processor, wizz til smooth. Then put in a cake tin and cook til risen, golden and fluffy. And ta da- you are a wonderful cake god(dess)! The prep stage takes about 10 minutes tops. And then you can set the timer on your oven and leave it until it beeps.

With this recipe, the more overripe the bananas are, the better, and the less sugar you need to add.

I’ve no idea where the recipe came from – I’ve had it written in the back of a recipe book for years! And had previously been on a post-it note. It might have even come from my mum or a friend’s mum.

Banana cake

makes 2 loaf cakes (about 10 – 12 slices)

  • 250g self-raising flour (or use plain flour with 1.5 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt)
  • 340g caster sugar
  • 4 bananas, mashed
  • 340g butter or margerine, softened
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tbsp vanilla essence
  • To ice:
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 tbsp granulated sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease 2 loaf tins.
  2. Place ingredients in a food processes or and blend til smooth.
  3. Pour half the mixture into each tin and bake for 45-50 minutes in the middle of the oven, or until a knife comes out the middle of it clean.
  4. Allow to cool slightly in the tins for about 10 minutes, then turn onto wire racks to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, making the sugar glaze icing by dissolving the sugar in the lemon juice. Prick the top of the cake all over with little holes (I use bbq skewers) and pour the glaze over it. It will run everywhere (make sure you do on a plate or cover the surface) but don’t worry, it’ll set and look quite pretty.
  6. Cool and serve with a nice cup of tea. And enjoy 🙂
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Chorizo and feta tortilla

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This one is an entirely made up MrsJacksonCooks recipe! Based on the basic tortilla recipe, with my own things thrown in it. This is great for leftover antipasti and marinaded veges. It’s also very simple to do, and quick so it’s perfect for midweek meals.

My mum brought me back some chorizo from Spain, which was the starting point for this recipe, and also the desire to make something quickly. Uncooked chorizo is best, but cooked chorizo is fine, just cook it for less time.

Chorizo and feta tortilla

Serves 3-4

  • 3-4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 70g chorizo, sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large red chillis, sliced
  • 1 red pepper sliced, or 4-5 marinaded pepper pieces sliced
  • handful of olives, drained and halved
  • 6 eggs beaten
  • 100g feta cheese, crumbled
  • salt & pepper
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley or basil
  1. Boil the potatoes until cooked, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside til needed.
  2. Meanwhile preheat the grill on high.
  3. Then heat a large frying pan on a medium heat. Add the chorizo and fry until it starts to release it’s juices. Then add the onion and fry until softened and starting to brown.
  4. Then add the garlic and chilli and fry for another couple of minutes.
  5. Next add the peppers and olives, stirring them through well.
  6. Beat the eggs together with some salt, pepper and the feta cheese. Then stir in the parsley
  7. Add the potatoes stirring well to coat in the chorizo juices.
  8. Spread it all out so it’s evenly spaced around the pan, then pour over the egg mix, ensuring even distribution. Tip the pan to allow it to move around the pan to even it out.
  9. Cook on a medium heat until it’s done underneath. Then pop under the grilled until cooked and golden on top.
  10. Serve immediately with a green salad
  11. Enjoy 🙂
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An Easter extravaganza: chargrilled squid, slow roasted lamb and st. clements pie

I’ve been debating whether to do this as separate posts or all in one, and I’m going with all in one – hope it’s not too full on!  Although having said that, it felt full on to cook it for 7 people – bit like Christmas all over again, but without the hangover….got something right at least!

But the whole thing was delicious and I did enjoy making it.  If you’re thinking of doing a dinner party there’s some great ideas here.  Not really suitable for veges though – and I was a bit relieved not to have any coming as I’d have to do something completely separate for them.  What I loved about this was all the flavours and spices in it – both the squid and lamb used quite a lot of different spices so we had quite a mix of flavours.  And the tangy lemon tart to finish was perfect after all the richness of the lamb.

The lamb, incidentally came from a farm near Hebden Bridge.  I happen to know the lady that owns the farm and she sold me a load of lamb cuts, as well as regular egg deliveries.  And I do notice the difference in the meat.  I don’t really notice it with organic meat from the supermarket or butchers but definitely with it coming fresh from this farm – and the eggs are so yellow and tasty too.  I think the lamb had a lot more flavour and was a lot more tender than supermarket versions.  But you can do it with any lamb – not only if you happen to know someone with a farm!

The squid recipe is an Ottolenghi recipe and so it’s a bit bitty and fiddly but it’s not complicated.  There’s just lots of steps – I think you could combine some of them quite easily but it’s up to you – I followed it more or less – with the exception of replacing sumac with lemon juice and zest because I didn’t have it and had no idea where to get it!  By comparison, the lamb is ridiculously simple!  And great for dinner parties because you can shove it in the oven and forget about it.  And the pudding can be made the day before if you want.

The original recipes are here – I have adapted all slightly, to reflect what I had available to me.  The shoulder of lamb served 7 very well – there wasn’t much at all left over, but if you did have fewer guests the leftovers would make very nice sandwiches for lunches in the following week.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/mar/30/squid-salad-braised-chicory-recipes

http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/chefs/hugh-fearnley-whittingstall/slow-roast-shoulder-of-lamb-with-merguez-spices-recipe

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2063673/st-clements-pie

Tangy squid and pitta salad

Serves 7

  • 700g cleaned and prepared baby or adult squid (adult squid cut into thin rings)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lemons, 1 juiced and zested
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 large pitta (white or wholemeal) sliced into thin strips
  • 60g capers
  • 4 celery stalks cut thinly on the diagonal
  • large handful of celery leaves chopped or rocket (if leaves unavailable) – I used a combination as I had some leaves but not enough
  • 1 tsp all spice berries (or ground all spice), ground
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp pink or green peppercorns, crushed and ground
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley
  1. Put the squid rings in a bowl with the oil, lemon juice and zest, salt & pepper.  cover and place in the fridge until needed.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the remaining lemon and chop the segments up into small bits and place in a large serving bowl.
  3. Add the celery leaves or rocket to the lemon and the spices and parsley – mix well and set aside.
  4. Toast the pitta in some olive oil in a pan for a few minutes until crispy and starting to char in spots, remove these onto a plate to keep warm.
  5. Follow the pitta with the capers – fry until crispy and turn onto the pitta slices.
  6. Follow the capers with the celery and fry for a few minutes until softened slightly and tip onto the pitta and capers.
  7. Finally flash fry the squid with the marinade juices and zest for a minute until just cooked through.  Tip the pitta, capers and celery into the serving bowl with the lemon and leaves and stir well.  Then tip in the squid and give it another stir before serving immediately with a nice dry white wine.
  8. Enjoy all the spicy zingy flavours!

Slow roast spiced lamb shoulder

Serves 6-8 (or 4-5 with leftovers)

  • 1 shoulder of lamb
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ cinnamon stick, broken up
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Leaves from 2 large rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Roast potatoes and veges to serve
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 22o degrees celsius.  
  2. Score the shoulder joint all over with a knife to just under the skin.  
  3. Put all the whole spices in a pan and lightly toast still the start popping.  Tip into a pestle and mortar and roughly grind.  Add the ground spices, garlic, salt and olive oil to mortar and stir well to combine to a thick paste.
  4. Using your fingers spread half the spices all over the lamb-  including sides and underneath and especially in the cuts that you’ve made.  
  5. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and turn the oven down to 120 degrees celsius
  7. spread the remaining spices over the lamb using the back of a spoon, pour a glass of water in the bottom of the roasting pan the lamb is sat in (not over it) and cover in foil.  
  8. Return to the oven for 6 hours.
  9. Remove, allow to rest for a bit and then using a carving fork, tear the lamb off the bones (it should fall off easily) and serve with the roasted vege and potatoes and the juices from the pan poured over it.  
  10. Enjoy (perhaps with some red wine this time?!).  

St. Clements Pie (orange and lemon pie)

Serves 10 ish

  • 250g digestive biscuits
  • 85g butter (unsalted)
  • 3 lemons zested and juiced
  • 2 oranges zested and juiced
  • 1 tin condensed milk
  • 1 large egg plus 4 large egg yolks
  • 150ml double cream
  • 100g greek yoghurt
  • 4 tbsp icing sugar
  • more lemon zest
  1. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius
  2. Lightly grease an ovenproof flan dish or removable bottom cake tin
  3. Put the digestives in double bagged food bags tied tightly and bash with a rolling pin or spoon until they form crumbs.
  4. Melt the butter in a pan and remove from the heat.
  5. Add the digestive crumbs to the butter and mix well.  
  6. Tip the crumbs into the dish and spread out and pat down to form a crust along the bottom and up the sides.
  7. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes (keep an eye on this – mine did quite quickly and the first one burnt).  
  8. Remove from the oven, turning it down to 160 degrees celsius and allowing the crust to cool slightly.
  9. Meanwhile whisk the egg and yolks with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add the condensed milk and orange & lemon zests and juices and whisk again until well combined.
  10. Pour the topping over the crust and bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until set (not going brown though).  Again keep an eye on this so it doesn’t over cook.
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Then refrigerate for about 3-4 hours or overnight.  
  12. Just before serving, whip together the cream, yoghurt and icing sugar and dollop over the pie.  Sprinkle over the remaining zest and serve with some coffee
  13. Enjoy!  
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Italian style rice & egg salad

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It was sunny yesterday, and a pleasant return to the UK after a great holiday in Cape Verde where we just chilled out, ate too much and I didn’t cook once. Just what I needed. So I returned 1/2 a stone heavier and in need of a diet. I wanted to do something healthy and light and salad seemed like a good thing. But we didn’t have much in the fridge, so I was being inventive.

I got the recipe from my new Italian Comfort Foods cook book, which you can find here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Italian-Comfort-Food-Soul-Satisfying-Recipes/dp/1856269361/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333377952&sr=8-1 and it uses pickled vegetables. But I didn’t have any of them, except for onions, so I just used marinated roasted peppers and artichokes and some olives instead. And some sweetcorn that was lurking in the fridge. I also didn’t have any mozzarella, so I used goats cheese and it was delicious.

So basically – just substitute whatever you’ve got into the salad and I’m sure it’ll be fine.

I also used Thai Jasmine rice for the rice, as that’s what I had, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It was ok but it’s quite a sticky rice. I think a long grain rice would be better for a salad.

Italian style rice & egg salad

Serves 3

  • 130g rice
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1.2l water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 90g pickled onions (the little ones you use for cheese crackers – I had leftover ones from Christmas!)
  • 100g (ish) roasted peppers from a jar – drain and rinse off the oil and slice into strips.
  • 100g (ish) artichoke hearts from a jar – again drain and rinse off the oil
  • 100g (ish) green olives – rinse off the oil or brine
  • 100g tinned sweetcorn, drained
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and sliced
  • 100g mozzarella cheese (real stuff, not the pizza stuff), diced or use goats cheese instead
  • handful of mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1tsp English mustard
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Spread the rice out on a baking tray and place in the oven to toast for a few minutes.
  2. Bring the water to boil, place the lemon in the water and the salt and then add the rice. Re-bring to the boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer until the rice is just cooked (you don’t want to over cook it and have all the starch come out) – about 10 minutes.
  3. Then drain and rinse under cold water until the rice is cooled and the water runs clear. Set aside until needed.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, salt & pepper to form a dressing.
  5. Put all the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl (the larger the better for mixing) and toss. Add the rice and toss again.
  6. Add the dressing and toss once more to combine then serve immediately.
  7. Enjoy! 🙂
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Weekender breakfast: hotcakes and eggs

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Just a quick Hope update – thanks so much for your support.  When I posted about her on Thursday I got the most views to my site ever – and then the second highest views ever yesterday too.  Please do repost, retweet, like on facebook, etc – to get the message out and get support for her family.  Such a brave family in such a terrible situation.

These hotcakes are inspired. Super quick and easy to make, without requiring much effort on your part (essential when hungover) and soooo tasty. They probably have a million calories in them but if the hangover from hell is knocking – do you care?! And even if you don’t have a hangover, weekends are not for counting calories. And these are delicious and well worth whatever calories are in them.

The recipe suggests poached eggs, which sound lovely but as I can’t make decent poached eggs, I did fried and they were delicious with it too.

The original is here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/8239/bacon-and-parsley-hotcakes and to be honest, I wasn’t in the mood for experimenting, so I pretty much followed it.

But here it is, reproduced, just for you. Don’t say I’m not good to you.

Hotcakes with bacon and eggs brunch

Serves 2

  • 50g bacon lardons (I did 1.5 rashers)
  • 50g self-raising flour
  • 25g cheddar, grated
  • 1 tsp thyme (or fresh thyme if you have it)
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 6 tbsp milk (the recipe suggests less but I found that it needed it)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (plus more if they start burning)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 rashers bacon
  1. Fry the bacon lardons in a frying pan, in their own fats until browned and crispy. Turn out onto kitchen towel, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan.
  2. Put the flour, cheese, bacon, herbs, salt & pepper in a bowl and mix well. Make a well and crack the egg into it.
  3. Whisk from the centre to beat the egg, gradually drawing in the flour mix. Add the milk gradually until you have a very thick batter.
  4. Heat the grill and grill the bacon rashers.
  5. Heat the bacon oil in the frying pan on a medium heat and add a tablespoon of the mixture to the pan, and another, until you have 3-4 in the pan with enough space so they aren’t touching.
  6. Fry for a couple of minutes on each side until browned and golden. Turn out onto kitchen towel. And repeat until all the batter is used (should make about 4-6 depending on how generous your spoonfuls are)
  7. Crack the eggs in the frying pan and fry in the remaining oils until cooked to your liking.
  8. Serve with the hotcakes in the middle of the plate, piled high with the bacon and the eggs and the sauce of your liking (mine was brown sauce for these).
  9. Enjoy with a nice cup of tea and try not to remember what happened last night!

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Making amends: Sweet potato and roasted pepper frittata

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I apologise. I’ve deserted you. I’ve not been myself…it’s not you, it’s my work. They had me pulling crazy hours, pulling my hair out and come friday I was a wreck, sat under my desk gibbering nonsense. They eventually sent me home at 3pm! So, of course, I went shopping! And bought myself some lovely hats which came in handy as it decided to snow on Saturday!

But because of all of this, I’ve not been blogging. I’ve barely been eating and certainly haven’t been cooking. I did go to the Marble Beer House on Thomas St though in the NQ which is a newish edition to the NQ. And the first time I’ve been. I was so stressed though, I forgot photos…next time maybe. Do go try their cheeseboard though and if you’re a beer drinker there’s plenty of choice. And if you’re not – I recommend the fruit beers. Don’t taste like beer at all! The chocolate one looked interesting too, but I didn’t try it, so can’t say.

Have no fear though, for valentine’s we’re going to Thomas Restaurant (on the very same Thomas St), which is a place I love, so I shall be eating, snapping pics and blogging for your delictation – the things I do for you!

I am back, and it’s business as usual. And as a peace offering, I present, the sweet potato and roasted pepper Spanish tortilla. It started out as the amalgamation of two different recipes and ended up really just being my own. Who says I don’t innovate?! Us practical cooks can do it too!

This is a lovely, delicious easy peasy recipe to do, and quick enough that it works for a midweek meal. It is meant to serve four, but it was so delicious it ended up being two generous helpings plus lunch for hubby the next day. Which is a great thing about any tortilla – you can eat it hot or cold. Tortillas are Spanish and Fritattas are Italian, but essentially they’re the same thing – omlettes with potatoes or pasta or other carby things thrown in. Ie a meal in an omelette. No bread required (although I do love an omlette sandwich myself…but there’s a time and a place). I apologise, my lack of blogging is making me verbose.

I’ve no idea on the calories, but as it’s February, we don’t have to worry about them any more and can go back to scoffing chocolate (and blame it on Valentines day – no partner necessary for that!). It is vegetarian though, so is a perfect meatless Monday option (which seems to be some American thing – probably to try and address their obesity problem). But really you can be vege any day of the week – there’s no requirement to keep to Monday’s only. I do like to try and have at least 2 vege only days a week. To much meat, especially red meat, isn’t good for you (but neither is an absence of it – everything in moderation as my mother says).

Anyway, enough waffling from me. Here’s the recipe. My original inspiration came from the BBC good food website I think, but there isn’t really a recipe to link to as it’s my own.

Sweet potato and roasted pepper tortilla/fritatta

Serves 2-4 (depending on how greedy you are)

  • 1 large red pepper (other colours will also work – maybe not green), I used Romero but it doesn’t matter really
  • 300g sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced in rounds
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 eggs
  • 100g feta cheese
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • salt & pepper
  • 30g (ish) cheddar or red leicester cheese, grated
  1. Heat the grill on a high heat. Place the pepper (whole with stalk) under the grill and grill until charred on all sides. The blacker it is, the better.
  2. When it’s done, remove from the grill and place in a plastic bag (and seal) and leave to cool. Leave the grill on.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the potatoes on a medium heat until cooked and browned in patches. This takes about 10 minutes.
  4. Then add the onions and garlic and fry for a few minutes.
  5. Take the pepper out the bag, and peel off the skin. Remove the stalk and seed and cut into thin strips.
  6. Whisk the eggs together in a bowl then add the pepper strips, feta, herbs, salt & pepper to the eggs.
  7. Pour it all over the potato mix and swirl about to cover the whole pan.
  8. When its mostly cooked underneath, sprinkle the cheddar over the top and place under the grill for a few minutes until it’s brown and crispy in patches and the egg is cooked.
  9. Serve immediately with a side salad or on it’s own. It will keep in the fridge for a couple of days and is delicious cold.
  10. Enjoy 🙂
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Diet friendly indulgences: banana and blueberry muffins

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I had some over-ripe bananas that needed using up and was surprised to find a recipe for muffins that was only 202 calories! These are really delicious, great for breakfast (or any time really), feel like a treat but don’t stick to your hips like others do. A definite preference to starbucks muffins or a chocolate bar and they don’t have the nasty taste of diet bars because there’s real sugar in them, not sweetener.

My version of the recipe actually has 244 calories – I put in whole eggs, not just whites (I hate having leftover egg yolks), but that’s still not many more. I also used slightly less sugar as my bananas were over-ripe so they were very sweet and milk instead of buttermilk because I didn’t have any. And they turned out wonderful. Apparently only 85 calories are from fat, there’s 2.6g saturated fat in these, and they’re high in vitamin A, C, calcium and iron – so great for keeping colds away.

The recipe is also ridiculously easy – no fancy equipment required. Just a bowl and a large spoon. It literally takes minutes to put them together, and 20 or so to bake them. And voilà – delicious healthy muffins in 30 minutes. Eat your heart out Jamie Oliver!

The original recipe is here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1572/banana-and-blueberry-muffins-

And here’s mine – enjoy without the guilt!

Banana and blueberry muffins

Makes 12 muffins

  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 80g light muscovado sugar + 1tbsp for topping
  • 50g porridge oats, plus 1 tbsp for topping
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed to a smooth pulp
  • 250ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g blueberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and oats in a bowl. Make a well in the middle.
  3. Combine the milk, eggs, bananas and oil. Then tip this into the well and mix quickly and sparingly with the dried ingredients. Don’t worry about it not being well mixed or there being patches of flour, or it being lumpy.
  4. Tip in the blueberries and give it one more stir.
  5. Put cases in a muffin tin. Then spoon the mixture to very full into each muffin case (I did about 4 tbsp of mixture for each – so that they were just over flowing over the cases but not over the tin edges).
  6. Mix together the remaining tbsps of sugar and oats and sprinkle over the top of the muffins.
  7. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until risen and golden.
  8. Leave to cool in the tin (or eat whilst warm)
  9. Enjoy with a nice cup of tea 🙂

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