Food. Travel. Recipes.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Sour Cream Aubergine Potato Bake with an Italian broccoli stir-fry (grazie a Gino D'Acampo!)

I made this for my family for just a casual evening dinner, it's taken from Gino D'Acampo's book Fantastico, which I seem to have had on long loan from my Dad (I think he is wanting it back now!) but it is such a brilliant book, so many easy innovative recipes that wouldn't become boring if you were to cook them quite a bit. I was drawn to this recipe as it was vegetarian (which automatically caters for my Mum), it involved aubergines - which if you haven't guessed are one of my favourite ingredients to cook with and it was a bake and I love anything that you can prepare quite simply and then pop in the oven to get all yummy and toasty. The broccoli stir fry was another recipe that I found in the book which seemed to give a real different twist to broccoli and I really wasn't expecting it to be as delicious as it was! It packed a punch with the chilli and made the broccoli incredibly juicy, if you're looking for a recipe to make blah broccoli more exciting then this is definitely it!

Sour Cream Aubergine Potato Bake

Serves 3


5 tablespoons olive oil
1 aubergine, cut into cubes
3 small (2 medium) red onions (Gino doesn't specify between red or white, but I think the red gives the dish a sweetness), finely sliced
1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
950g Jersey royal potatoes, peeled
220g sour cream
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
Butter, for greasing
250g taleggio cheese (I used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella instead)
300ml vegetable stock
Salt and white pepper

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the aubergines over a medium heat for about 15 minutes until brown and soft. When cooked, transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon.

Add the chopped red onion to the frying pan on a lower heat, add the sugar and fry for around 20 minutes until soft and caramelised.

While the onions are busy caramelising and sizzling away, put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold salted water. Bring to the boil and cook for around 10 minutes, then drain. Preheat the oven to 220C and leave the potatoes to cool.

Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle (and you NEED to wait until they are cool so they are not messy and too soft to cut) cut into 1cm-thick slices. Place in a large bowl and gently mix with the sour cream and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

Butter a shallow 2 litre ovenproof dish (see below) and cover the base with half of the potatoes. Scatter the onions over the top followed by the aubergines and two thirds of the chopped taleggio (or whatever cheese you're using)

Cover evenly with the remaining potatoes and pour over the vegetable stock. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top (this is where I used the mozzarella) and cook in the centre of the oven for about 40 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes then serve with either a salad, stir fried broccoli or perhaps some simple asparagus spears.

Italian style broccoli stir-fry

Serves 3 as a side dish


5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons runny honey
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
3 tablespoons, sliced fresh basil (or dried works perfectly fine in my opinion but you probably won't need as much as 3 tablespoons!)
60g pine nuts
700g broccoli, cut into florets
Salt and pepper

Mix together all of the liquidy ingredients (olive oil, honey, soy sauce, vinegar) with the sliced garlic clove, chilli, basil and pine nuts in a large bowl.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the broccoli for around 3-5 minutes. Drain and place in the bowl with the dressing. Toss gently to avoid breaking up the broccoli.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a wok and fry the broccoli with the dressing for 4 minutes until piping hot and stirring frequently.

Season and serve straightaway in a side dish to accompany a main meal.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

How to: herby parmesan breadcrumbed chicken

I attempted a breadcrumbed chicken meal the other day, which went surprisingly well! I thought it would be a cheaper and healthier alternative to shop or takeaway bought breadcrumbed chicken. It's not super crispy but I think this way makes the chicken taste very tender. You can also decide whatever ingredients you want in the breadcrumb mixture and make it more interesting and flavoursome. I wanted to go for a bit of an Italian theme with the meal, so I added basil and parmesan to the breadcrumb mixture and served with a creamy tomato tagliatelle and simple garlic infused roasted vegetables.

Serves 3

Ingredients (for the breadcrumbed mixture)

A packet of small chicken fillets (enough for 3-4)
2-3 slices of white/brown bread (minus the crusts)
1 tablespoon dried/fresh basil
50g parmesan (grated/shavings)
Olive oil
A few drops of lemon juice
Salt and Pepper

2 eggs
A good scattering of flour over a surface

Take the chicken fillets and lay on a chopping board and wrap in cling film, bash these out until they are nice and thin.

Prepare the breadcrumb mixture in a small food processor. Add the bread and the basil with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice and give it a whizz. Add the parmesan and give a final whizz. Empty into a bowl.

Arrange your eggs in a bowl, the flour over a chopping/bread board and the breadcrumb mixture in a bowl.

Take turns dipping the chicken in the flour first, then in the egg mixture followed by the breadcrumb mixture, making sure it is coated well.

Get some olive oil going in a frying pan/griddle pan (I used a griddle pan which I prefer as it actually seems less greasy and you get the nice lines from the pan on the chicken!) then add the breadcrumbed chicken. It will cook pretty damn quickly as the chicken has been bashed to within an inch of its life so it is a lot thinner! Turn them over when they look sizzling and toasty on one side. It should literally take around 5-6 minutes to cook on both sides.

Then make sure your accompaniments are ready, and serve up! Yummy breadcrumbed chicken which is actually way healthier than what you'd buy AND you can actually make the coating more interesting. Enjoy!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Easy peasy sweet chilli peanut noodles with sweetcorn and carrot fritters (Nigella Lawson/Rosie Lovell)

This recipe is a little different from what I usually cook, as I've probably said before, I tend to gravitate towards Italian dishes. However, this recipe is something with a more Asian inspired feel, with a kick of spices and it definitely wins for overall easiness. If I need something that's going to fill me up, be interesting and full of vegetables, then I always go back to this, it's taken from Nigella Lawson's Nigella Express, a cookbook full of quick and easy dishes. This recipe also allows you to really play around with what you put in it, you have the basis of noodles and dressing but the types of vegetables (and even choice of meat) you include are completely optional. So the vegetables I have included here aren't the ones that are on Nigella's recipe, but the link above will take you to her recipe if you want to see what ingredients she uses.

The sweetcorn and carrot fritters go beautifully with this dish, and they are great as meal accompaniments or just as snacks to have in the fridge, to warm up when you feel like one. This is taken from Rosie Lovell's, Spooning with Rosie, one of my all time favourite cookbooks. It was when I was just starting to get into cooking and my sister bought me this for Christmas. Her recipes are always so well thought out, featuring a huge range of different ingredients and she knows what foods go so perfectly with each other, I've made a few recipes from this book and there's definitely plenty more I want to try!

Ingredients - Sweet Chilli Peanut Noodles (serves 2)

1 x 15ml tablespoon (sesame) oil
1 x 15ml tablespoon garlic oil
1 x 15ml tablespoon soy sauce
2 x 15ml tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
100g crunchy/smooth peanut butter (Nigella recommends smooth, but I absolutely love crunchy and that's what we've always got in the house - I think it gives a better texture to the dressing)
2 x 15ml tablespoon lime juice
1 x 15ml tablespoon mirin wine (this is completely optional, but I had some in the cupboard and thought it added something extra!)

2 large tomatoes, chopped (the tomatoes make the dish juicy!)
100g mushrooms, roughly chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
100g spinach

Packet of dried noodles/ ready prepared egg noodles (use as many or as few noodles as you wish!)
20g sesame seeds/sunflower seeds - whatever seeds that are around and that go well, just to give the dish more of a crunch!

And now prepare for the simplest recipe method ever!

Chop up all of the vegetables.

Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl together and then leave to one side.

Cook the noodles to the packet specification, then once cooked (it takes around 5 minutes!), drain and add back to the pan. Add the dressing, vegetables and mix well so everything is coated in the yummy sauce. Scatter the sesame seeds over and serve. Simple!

Ingredients - Sweetcorn and Carrot Fritters (serves 3-4/makes around 10 small fritters)

2 medium eggs
3 tablespoons cornflour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 spring onion, chopped
1 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
A small handful of fresh coriander, chopped
1 x 285g tin of sweetcorn, drained
1 carrot, peeled and grated
3 tablespoons peanut (or vegetable) oil

Start by cracking the eggs into a bowl and whisk. Add the cornflour and baking powder, and mix so that the ingredients form a smooth paste.

Add the chopped ingredients; the spring onion, the garlic clove, and the fresh coriander, mix together well. Then add the drained sweetcorn and fold in with the other ingredients.

Heat the oil in a frying pan until hot, then add a tablespoon of the mixture so that it forms a medium sized pattie. Allow the mixture to spread, and bubble, when you see the patties crisping up at the sides, flip over quickly. Then when cooked, remove from the heat onto a kitchen towel so the oil is soaked up.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Chicken, Chorizo and Potato Tray bake (Nigella Lawson) with lemony salt and pepper green beans

Tray bakes are one my favourite dinner ideas, it is just so easy to chuck everything into an oven tray, season and pop in the oven! Not to mention tasty too! This is another recipe taken from Nigella Lawson's Kitchen, a cookery book I've been loving lately! This recipe involves one of my favourite ingredients, chorizo. I just love how amazingly juicy, salty and crispy it is when you cook it, of course it is not healthy at all but sometimes you have to accept these small details and just enjoy it! I don't eat it that often but it is one of my favourite things to cook with (a chorizo tomato salad is also gorgeous!)

This is more than enough for 4 people, I also served it with green beans to get some more colour and a least a little bit of healthiness onto the plate!


2 large oven trays

2 x 15ml tablespoons olive oil
12 chicken thighs (I used 6)
750g chorizo sausage (whole if baby ones or cut into chunks if a regular-sized ring)
1 kg new potatoes
2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Grated one zest orange (I used lemon instead)

Good handful of green beans
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220 C. Rub the olive oil over the chicken thighs in the oven tray, reserve 6 pieces for each tray.

Divide the chorizo sausage, new potatoes and chopped up red onion between the 2 trays. Sprinkle the dried oregano and lemon zest over the trays. Drizzle oil over the contents and make sure all is coated.

Cook for 1 hour. Nigella recommends that after 30 minutes the trays are swapped round in the oven and the ingredients are basted with the orange zesty juices (or lemon juices!)

Lemony salt and pepper green beans

Around 10 minutes before the tray bakes are ready, get the green beans boiling.

Once ready, drain and pop back into the saucepan. Coat in the zest and juice of 1 lemon, a sprinkle of crunchy sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Serve both up straight away!