Archive for the ‘All Recipes’ Category

Bolognaise for the freezer

January 29, 2009

I bought some minced beef steak at Costco last week. I used 1kg to make a batch of mince & carrots and 1kg for the bolognaise pictured here (there’s another 600g raw in the freezer, to be cooked at a later date).

My bolognaise is a meaty dish, not a tomato sauce with a hint of meat in it. I always use a tin of plum tomatoes, some mushrooms, some onion, and usually some red pepper. However, I had no red pepper in the house.

Here’s what I used:
1000g lean steak mince
200g onions
2 cans chopped tomatoes
3 beef stock cubes (Oxo)
3-4 cloves of garlic
90g mushrooms
a large squeeze of Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs

Using a tip I read in a Rosemary Conley diet book, I dry-cooked the mince in a saucepan (ie, I put the meat in but no fat, no liquid) and then drained the fat off by putting the meat into a sieve and making sure all the fat had gone, I then washed the saucepan with soapy water, ensuring there was no fat left in it before rinsing, drying and putting the meat back in to continue the cooking.

I did put the chopped onion into the meat during the first part of the cooking as I wanted it to cook in the fat.

With the meat back in the pan I tipped in the tinned tomatoes (always a good thing to have in the cupboard and better in this kind of recipe than fresh), sprinkled in three Oxo beef stock cubes and some crushed garlic then let it come to a simmer before adding some chopped mushrooms and some herbs.

I let it simmer away happily on its own for about 40 minutes. It probably doesn’t need that long but I feel that it improves, tht the flavours mingle more, if it is cooked long and slow. I left it to mature overnight before batching it up for the freezer but it can be frozen as soon as it is cool.

I fed the data into weight loss resourceswhich told me that a 175g portion (that’s how much is shown here) is 177 calories. I served it with 100g (cooked weight) of spaghetti for another 119 calories and added some broccoli just because I like to see a vegetable on my plate.

The food on the plate comes to 315 calories and it was plenty.

There are five more 2-people portions in the freezer.


Getting my five-a-day

January 21, 2009

Well I’m back from my week in the sun and have got decidedly podgier. I got on the scales on Monday morning expecting to find I’d put on about half a stone – that’s what it felt like I had gained. To my surprise the scales reported a one pound loss. That could be due to the slightly dodgy tummy I’d had for two days.

I deserved to be heavier as I had made full use of the ‘all inclusive’. The food was rather good and I had a couple of beers each day as well. Apart from a little walking, I did no exercise. The unheated pool was very cold (well I may have been in Egypt but it is still mid-winter). The sea was too rough for me to risk (I am not a strong swimmer) and the gym was a no-go area due to the pestering to try the beauty treatments and massage (at UK prices!).

So I’m home and back on the straight and narrow. We arrived home in the early hours of Monday morning and, obviously, there was no fresh fruit or veg in the house. Although I was very good with Monday’s calories (961) the fruit and veg count was very low (2.9). Here’s what I had – the broccoli and the mandarin were from the Co-op round the corner.

Monday, 19th January

For reasons I don’t want to go into, in fact I want to forget, Tuesday was a very bad day nutritionally. I did go to pilates in the morning, though.

So I stocked up on fresh veggies at Lidl yesterday and made a delicious high veg content lunch today.

I put some Thai rice on to cook with a pinch of saffron (I need to use it up before I emigrate) while I chopped the following:
41g red pepper
57g mushrooms – a mix of common and chestnut
36g carrot (chopped into thin sticks)
47g broccoli

Of course, I didn’t specifically measure out those amounts – but I put the food on the scales so I could count the calories and F&V portions. It was one carrot and two thirds of a pepper, several mushrooms, what was left of the broccoli in the fridge. The quantities given above are half of that as I made enough for two of us.

I sprayed a pan with fry light and cooked the veggies, adding some Gourmet Garden ginger, lemongrass and coriander (I keep the tubes in the freezer) and a splash of water when the food started to stick. I added some freshly ground pepper.

When it was cooked I emptied the pan into a pasta bowl and covered it to keep it warm.
A quick wash of the pan (easy when it is still hot), a wipe and another spray with the oil, then I threw in five raw, frozen, king prawns and 10g of coconut cream (again, something that needs using up before I go). A splash of water meant that the coconut mixed in well. When the prawns were nicely turning pink I tipped 50g washed baby spinach over the top (the extra water helped the moisture content) and let it wilt, stirring it in with the prawns.

I tipped the stir-fried veg back in the pan and stirred it all together to warm through. I served it with the rice and a couple of halved cherry tomatoes. Together with the defrosted blueberries I had with my porridge this morning, this means I’ve had 4.1 portions of fruit and veg and I’ve not had dinner yet.

Lemon & Pepper Chicken Wings

November 21, 2008

This is my version of Sasha’s version of a NIgel Slater recipe.
a pack of chicken wings (about 12)
two unwaxed lemons
1 heaped tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sea salt flakes

1. Put the chicken wings into a roasting dish (check for stray feathers first).

2. Grate the lemon rind onto the chicken.

3. Halve the lemons and squeeze the juice over the chicken wings.

4. Cut each of the lemon skins into quarters.

5. Either put the peppercorns in a mortar and bash them so they crack into small pieces then add the olive oil or, if you are like me and can’t get on with a mortar put them in a blender but for the shortest possible time. You do not want a powder.
The peppercorns should still be nubbly, rather than finely ground.

6. Add the the olive oil.

7. Pour the pepper & oil mixture over the chicken wings and make sure you’ve covered as much of the chicken pieces as you can.

8. Scatter the salt flakes, without crushing them, over the chicken. At this stage you can leave it for a while to soak up the flavours if you want.

9. Tuck the quartered lemon halves in between the pieces of chicken.

10. Roast at 220ºC (or 200 for a fan oven) for about an hour, turning once (if you remember). The chicken should be golden and sticky, the edges blackened here and there.

Nice eaten straight away as nibbles, or cold in a picnic or lunch box.

Maytime Flan

June 16, 2008

The recipe is from a weekly collection of cookbooks called ‘Nice & Easy’ that I used to buy when my children were small in the early 80s. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made this over the last – oh my goodness, twenty five years(!). It’s delicious warm but I more usually make it for picnics and parties (when I make a double sized one in a large flan dish) as it can be eaten cold with a salad and some new potatoes.

The original recipe says ‘serves 4’ giving the following quantities but if using as part of a picnic it will go much further.

215g shortcrust pastry
225g cottage cheese with chives (or other added ingredients but not pineapple)
3 eggs
25g butter
100g button mushrooms, sliced
half tsp dried thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tomato thinly sliced.

The one pictured was made with 300g cottage cheese (because that’s the size they had in the shop), 250g mushrooms (because I like them) and two tomatoes which where not sliced very thinly. I also sliced a couple of spring onions and mixed them into the cottage cheese. If using a larger quantity of cottage cheese either make sure you use large eggs or use an extra one (the pictured flan had three large eggs).

1. Preheat the oven to 200C

2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line an 18cm loose-bottomed flan ring standing on a baking sheet. If you haven’t got a loose bottomed one you’ll just have to hope you don’t break the flan. As you can see from the photograph, I used a ceramic dish and served it in it. This is a fairly large dish – about 22cm so was big enough for the extra quantity of ingredients.

3. Prick the pastry with a fork, line with greaseproof and fill with baking beans. Bake blind in the oven for ten minutes.

4. Meanwhile, make the filling. Put the cottage cheese into a bowl with the eggs and beat together with a fork until well mixed.

5. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the mushrooms and fry gently for two minutes (the original recipe says), stirring. You might want to substitute butter for something healthier but I like the flavour the butter gives. You might also want to cook them for longer – I did.

6. Drain well (if there is any fat left not absorbed by the mushrooms) then add the mushrooms to the cottage cheese mixture (see alternative below). Stir in the thyme (if using) and season to taste with salt and pepper.

7. Pour the cottage cheese & egg mixture into the pastry case and arrange the tomato slices on the top.

8. Return the flan to the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until the filing is golden and set.

9. Leave to stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Will keep for a few days in the fridge.
Nutritional info will be added when I get back from my holidays.

Alternative: instead of stirring the mushrooms into the cheese mixture, put them as a layer on the pastry before pouring the cheese mixture on top. I did that this time and I think I prefer it.

Citrus Chicken with Pumpkin and Peppers

May 28, 2008

I was in need of some comfort food today, and this is the healthiest comfort food I know. A nice, easy, all-in-one meal (although I usually cook some broccoli to go with it) cooked without any added fat.

This way of roasting the chicken keeps it very, very moist. You can freeze the leftovers for a ready meal.

The recipe is adapted from a Good Housekeeping Healthy Eating Recipe Book. In the recipe below anything listed as ‘optional’ is what I’ve added. Of course, you can adapt it further to suit yourself if you want to make it. It’s worth trying.

1 whole chicken
575g pumpkin or butternut squash*
1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
1 red onion
1 lime
1 red chili
2 oranges
300ml chicken stock (I use a cube)
2 tsp jerk seasoning**
salt and pepper
carrots (optional)
garlic (optional)
brown (ordinary) onion (optional)

* I used new potatoes this time as there are no squashes or pumpkins about

** if you haven’t got jerk use salt and paprika. This time I used Chinese five spice.

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (gas 4)
  2. Cut the peppers into chunks – about 2.5cm
  3. Peel the pumpkin or squash and chop into wedges.
    Peel and cut the onions into wedges
    Halve and deseed the chili and cut into thin strips
    If using, peel and chop the carrots into chunks
    If using, split the garlic bulb into cloves but leave them whole.

  4. Put all these veggies into a large roasting dish. Leave room in the centre for the chicken.
  5. Grate the rind of the oranges and the lime*** then squeeze the juice from them.
  6. Pour the lime juice and 60ml of the orange juice over the veggies. Stir in the grated rinds and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Put the chicken in the roasting pan in the middle of the veggies.
  8. Brush the chicken with the rest of the orange juice and rub in the jerk seasoning (or whatever you are using).
  9. I pour the chicken stock over the veggies and cook it all together. I find it makes for a very moist chicken. But the original recipe saves it for the ‘posh gravy’ below.
  10. Cook in the oven until the chicken is cooked (you will have weighed the chicken or, like me, put a meat thermometer in it).
  11. Put the cooked chicken on a carving dish to rest (meat and poultry carves better if you leave it out of the oven to ‘rest’ for 15 minutes before carving). Meanwhile put the veggies in a serving dish – you might want to pop them into the cooling oven to keep warm.
  12. Pour the juice from the pan into a saucepan and ‘reduce’ it (ie boil it a bit to thicken it up). Alternatively, you can make the ‘posh gravy’ below. I usually cook some broccoli at this stage. Savoy cabbage would probably be nice for a change.
  13. Carve the meat into thick slices or chunks. This is not a ‘delicate’ meal.

*** If you want to make a posh gravy for this, pare a few very thin strips of the rind and put to one side.

‘Posh Gravy’
After removing the chicken and vegetables from the roasting pan, strain off any fat then pour the stock back into the pan (if you didn’t add it before cooking) and bring to the boil. Add the reserved orange and lime strips and simmer for ten minutes.

Cheesy Red Pepper Mini Muffins

April 23, 2008

This is an Alison Holst recipe and it is delicious. Very very moorish. Just as well that a mini-muffin is only 49 calories!
mini cheesy red pepper muffins
2 cups (200g) mature cheddar cheese (or any another strong flavoured hard cheese)
1 large red pepper, roasted
1 TBS sugar
1.5 cups self raising flour
1 large red pepper, roasted
1-2 TBS chopped fresh coriander leaf
1 cup of milk
1 egg

  1. Heat the oven to 200C.
  2. Spray your muffin pans with oil (Chef Mate, Fry Light or your own spray).
  3. Into a large bowl measure the flour, cheese, salt and cayenne pepper (I didn’t have any so I used paprika).
  4. If you are using coriander leaf, add that now, and also the chopped roasted red pepper.
  5. Using your fingertips, mix it lightly till all combined.
  6. In another bowl or jug, mix the egg and milk together, then pour it onto the dry mixture.
  7. Gently fold it together – do not overmix.
  8. Spoon the mixture into the muffin pans.
  9. Bake for about 12 minutes until golden brown and ‘springy’ when gently pushed.

Mix makes about 36 mini muffins. Can also be made as medium muffins.
Can be frozen (I’ve only kept them for five days in the freezer before eating so far).

Nutritional Info per muffin (when making 36 mini muffins)
49 kcals; 2.4g protein; 4.8g carbs; 2.3g fat; 0.23g fibre

Nutritional Info per batch (if making different number of muffins you can work out the data per muffin)
1775 kcals; 87g protein; 173g carbs; 82g fat; 8.2g fibre

Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

April 23, 2008

This recipe has been adapted from the BBC Good Food recipe for blueberry and white chocolate muffins.

raspberry and white chocolate muffins
225g plain flour
75g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
75g butter, melted
150ml milk
112g raspberries
112g good quality white chocolate (I used Green & Blacks white creamy vanilla)

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 and spray a 6-hole muffin tin with a coating of oil (Chef Mate or Fry Light or your own spray). You can use paper cases if you want but I find they stick.
  2. Chop the chocolate (I used Green & Blacks white creamy vanilla) into fairly largish chunks (or you can use chocolate chips.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.
  4. Mix the egg, melted butter and milk quickly into the dry ingredients together with the raspberries and chocolate (don’t overmix, it should be a bit lumpy).
  5. Divide between the holes in the muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes until risen and golden and cooked through.
    These do keep in the freezer. I’m not sure for how long, I’ve only tried five days so far.

If making six muffins the nutritional value will be as follows:

436 calories; 9.75g protein; 52g carbs; 21g fat; 2g fibre; 0.3 servings of fruit.

The nutritional value for the whole lot (useful if you are making a different number of muffins from the mix) is

2619 calories; 58.5g protein; 315g carbs; 125.5g fat; 12g fibre; 1.5 servings of fruit.

Muffins: mini (or medium) walnut and apricot muffins

April 16, 2008

apricot and walnut mini muffins

This quantity makes:
24 mini-muffins OR
12 medium muffins OR
6 medium muffins PLUS 12 mini muffins

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup water or orange juice
50g butter
1 egg
1/2 cup yoghurt
half a large (or one small) orange , rind and juice
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Heat the oven to 190C and spray the muffins tins with oil (fry light, chef mate or your own version).
2. Measure the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix well to ensure that the brown sugar is evenly mixed through the other ingredients.
3. In another bowl, microwave the apricots with the water or juice until all the liquid is absorbed (about 1 minute on 100% power).
4. Add the butter to the apricot mixture, warm it a bit more if needed to mix it in.
5. Then mix in the eggs, yoghurt and grated orange rind.
6. Make the juice from the orange up to half a cup with water (if necessary) and add this and the chopped walnuts to the mixture.
7. Fold the two mixtures together, taking care not to overmix.
8. Divide the mixture evenly between the muffin tins.
9. Bake at 190C for about 12-15 minutes for medium or about 10-12 for mini or until the mffins spring back when pressed lightly.
Nutritional info: 144 kcals; 3g protein; 20g carb; 5.8g fat; 0.8g fibre

Apricot Brandy Cake – mixing & baking

October 31, 2007

Much later than I promised (due to circumstances beyond my control), here is the info on how to complete the Apricot Brandy Cake. Just as well I gave a link to the recipe! Stage one, mixing the fruit and the booze is a few posts back.

Making an Apricot Brandy Cake - stage two (completion)

Stage one is two posts back.

1. Assemble the ingredients
assemble the ingredients
225g/8oz butter, at room temperature
225g/8oz light muscovado sugar
225g/8oz plain flour
4 large eggs
350g/12oz glace cherries, halved, rinsed and dried
2 oranges, grated zest only

Pre-heat the oven to Pre-heat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1.

2. Line the tin with greaseproof paper
line the tin with greaseproof paper measuring greaseproof for the sides of the tin
You’ll need a double layer, you don’t want it to burn. Draw round the base of the tine for the bottom (and some for the top). You can roll the tin along the paper to get the right size – remember to allow for an overlap.

4. Cherries, orange rind and flour
chopped cherries, grated orange rind, weighed flour & sugar
Wash the cherries so they are not too sticky. Chop them up. Just in half if you like big pieces of cherry in your cake. I prefer smaller, more evenly distributed pieces so I chope mine smaller.
Grate the zest from the oranges.

5. Cream the butter and sugar.
cream the butter and sugar
I use a food procesor. If you want to develop your arm muscles you can beat with a spoon. Add the eggs and continue mixing/beating till combined.

6. In a very large bowl, combine the butter/sugar/egg mixture with the flour/cherry/orange zest mixture.
cake mix with the orange zest and glace cherries

7. Stir in the mixed fruit and brandy mixture
stir in the mixed fruit and brandy mixture
which has been soaking for days or weeks.

8. Put the mixture into the lined cake tin.
ready to put in the oven - apricot brandy cake

It is now ready to put in the oven.

9. Bake in the preheated oven for about 3½ hours or until the cake is a golden brown colour, feels firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Keep an eye on the cake and if it is getting too brown, cover it loosely with foil.

10. Allow the cake to cool in the tin, then turn it out.
Apricot Brandy Cake Apricot Brandy Cake
Wrap in greaseproof paper and store in an cake tin or box. It will keep for ages (at least a year) if, every so often, you poke holes in the cake with a skewer and spoon or pour more brandy over it.

Apricot Brandy Cake – tutorial for stage one

September 2, 2007

As the end of summer (not that we really had one here in the UK) approaches I realise, as always, that I’ve left it a little late to make my Apricot Brandy Cake that I like to have at Christmas (and New Year, and Easter, and all the days in between). Before you protest, let me reassure you that it is not too early to make this. It needs to mature. I’ve really been prompted to make the next batch because I am coming to the end of the one I made last October. I’ve been feeding it with more brandy from time to time – just whenever I remember to, and I think it is just about perfect now. Of course, it may improve further if I leave it longer!
Making an Apricot Brandy Cake - stage one

I’ve adapted the recipe from one by Mary Berry – she made it on the BBC television programme Saturday Kitchen a couple of years back. The basic difference is that she uses 90ml brandy and soaks the fruit over night while I pour lots of brandy in – I don’t measure it – and leave it to soak for several days or a week. I think I may have left it for two weeks once as I was too busy to make the cake. It was fine.

The other difference is, if you were to make one by her version and one by mine, her version would have been eaten and long forgotten by the time I consider mine ready to eat. I store it in an airtight container and keep ‘feeding’ it brandy over the months. It just gets better.

To start one cake you need the following:
#01 Assemble ingredients for stage one
300g/9oz dried apricots, chopped
225g/8oz currant
255g/8oz sultanas
225g/8oz raisins
brandy 90ml/3½fl oz for Mary Berry’s version or lots for mine.

The photo shows enough dried fruit for two cakes – everyone wants to take some home after they’ve tried it.

You will also need a bowl, scales (unless the packets hold exactly the amount you need) and cling film.

Mix all the fruit together in the bowl and pour brandy over it. Smells like Christmas, doesn’t it!

How much brandy? Well, the fruit shouldn’t be sloshing about in a sea of it, but it shouldn’t be fighting to actually get wet either. If you are using 90ml, give it a stir. If you are just tipping the bottle, move the bottle as you pour to ensure it all gets wet. You can give it a stir if you’re not sure.
#02a The soft apricot mix

Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a safe place overnight (for MBs version) or for several days or a week so that the fruit plumps up with all that lovely booze. Don’t worry that it looks heavy on the alcohol, remember this is going to be cooked and the alcohol will preserve it in the months to come.

Next weekend I’ll be doing stage two and turning the bowl of boozy fruit into a cake. For one cake you will need:
225g/8oz butter (try to get unsalted), at room temperature
225g/8oz light muscovado sugar
225g/8oz plain flour
4 large eggs
350g/12oz glacé cherries, halved, rinsed and dried
2 oranges, grated zest only

You will also need a 20cm/8in-deep round cake tin (a springform one is best but not essential) and some greaseproof paper or baking parchment.

I’ll post the tutorial here next week. If you need the rest of the recipe before then you can find it on Nibblous.

If you try this, please do let me know how you got on, and how you liked it.