Wow! Christmas, pre during and post, was BUSY! Lots of time spent celebrating the holidays with family, and mostly by eating, marvellous 🙂 So rather than dwell on how quiet this blog has been let’s just move swiftly along and greet the New Year with a new recipe! And what a fab new recipe it is too! I do like a cheeky pork pie, but Hubby isn’t a big fan of the jelly (understatement…), so when I saw this recipe in the Great British Food magazine I thought it might keep both of us happy.
I am happy to report that it most certainly did, and then some! They may not be picture perfect (somewhere Paul Hollywood is twitching and he doesn’t know why!) and half of my bluberries may have popped, but I love the homemadeyness of them all being a little uneven, and they were hella good fun to make 🙂 And the joy of readymade pastry makes this recipe a total doddle and something you can rustle up in a little under half an hour.
Any worries I might have had that the blueberries would be a little tart were for naught as they sweetened up perfectly when combined with the redcurrant jelly and were a wonderful counterpoint to the savouriness of the sausagemeat. Next time I make these I’m going to experiment with the filling… Our local butcher, Crombies, does an amazing pork and caramalised onion sasuage that I think would work an absolute treat! And! My sister in law gave me a bottle of her delicious homemade bramble vinegar which I’m going to sub in for the red wine vinegar as I think it’ll be amazing with the blueberries.
We ate half our batch for lunch, and popped the rest in the fridge to snack on. I suspect they won’t last the weekend…
Blueberry Glazed Pork Pies
Sweet blueberries compliment savoury sausagemeat, stuffed in lovely pastry pie cases.
flour for rolling or waxy baking parchment (really!)
3 spring onions, snipped into slices
400g good quality pork and herb sausages, poked out of their skins
freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten to glaze
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
1 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 tbsp water
butter for greasing the muffin tin
Other stuff you’ll need…
11.5 cm biscuit cutter or small coffee cup saucer
12 section muffin tin
Stuff to do first…
Put the oven on and preheat to 180C/350C/Gas Mark 4. Lightly butter the muffin tin, including the areas around each of the muffin cups. Wash the spring onions.
Start by making up the stuffing mix per your packet instructions – I used Paxo – and set to one side.
Roll out your pastry, either on a floured surface or be sneaky like Hubby and snub flour completely by rolling your pastry out between two sheets of waxy baking parchment! Properly genius!! You’re aiming to get the pastry quite thin yet sturdy enough to hold the filling without breaking when they’re cooked and you’re gently wrestling them out of the muffin tin (can you tell I learnt this the hard way?!).
Cut out 12 circles using the biscuit cutter/saucer, re-rolling the pastry until you have enough. Then gently press the pastry circles into the muffin tin (using the ball end of the rolling pin to lightly poke them in works a treat) so that the pastry stands a little above the top of the tin in a wavy edge. Set to one side.
Snip the spring onions into your mixing bowl and then snap on the CSI vinyl gloves and get the sausages! Using scissors or a sharp knife, cut a slit up the length of the sausage skin and then poke all the sausagemeat out into the bowl with the spring onions. Give it a good few grinds of fresh black pepper (since the sausages were seasoned before they were cased you shouldn’t need to add any salt) and then get your hands in there and mix it all up. Tip the stuffing in and mix that all in too.
Divide your sausagemeat mixture between each of the pastry cases, using the back of a spoon to even them out.
Brush the top edges of the pastry cases with a little beaten egg, then pop into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until that top edge of the pastry is golden and the filling is cooked through. Leave them to cool for 15 minutes, then carefully free them from the muffin tin (I found a butter knife really helpful) and place them on a cooling rack.
While the pies are cooling down, put thevinegar and redcurrant jelly into a small saucepan. Stir on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the jelly has melted and then add the berries. Mix the cornflour and water to get a smooth paste and then stir into the berries and cook until the juices have thickened a little and the berries are starting to soften – don’t cook the berries for too long or they’ll pop. Leave to cool before spooning over the pies (if you’ve overdone the cornflour then spoon while its hot because once it cools it will be impossible to work with, again, as I found out the hard way!).
The cornflour may take the sheen off the blueberry topping mix in which case brush a very VERY little bit of olive oil over the berries to give them a glaze. Scoff!
I struggle with what to make for lunch. Sandwiches are the obvious choice but a limited rota of fillings makes them get boring really quickly. Even at the weekend when I’ve got more time I’m generally quite stumped as to what to make. Left to my own devices I’d probably just rustle up a bowl of ramen noodles every day (and chorizo pasta every night!), but Hubby keeps pointing out the inherent unhealthiness of that, so… I’ve always got one eye out for new and interesting things to make for that meddlesome midday meal whenever I’m flicking through foodie mags or watching foodie progs. When I saw (the very lovely!) James Martin make his Singapore Chilli Crab Noodles one Saturday morning I knew I had to give it a go – not just because it looked tasty good but also because it looked like it could be Eat’s Spicy Crayfish Noodles, crab crayfish swap notwithstanding, which are awesome! Sadly, the only Eat in Edinburgh is inconveniently way out at the airport which is why I’m happy to have found a recipe that is tantamount to making my own…
Other than the obvious fact that this is not a sandwich, I love this for lunch – the sweet spicy noodles are delicious cold and the whole thing tastes lovely and fresh thanks to the coriander and zingy lime juice. Despite the long list of ingredients it really doesn’t take long to make these, and that wee bit of effort the night before will totally pay off the next day when you tuck into these for lunch 🙂
My take on JM’s original recipe cuts down the sauce:noodle ratio quite a bit as the Eat noodles I’m trying to recreate are eaten cold, and too much sauce with cold noodles = claggygedon. You’ll probably still need to give them a good shoogle to loosen them up before eating (a fresh squeeze of lime juice all over helps), especially if they’ve just come out of the fridge
Sweet & Spicy Prawn Noodle Salad
Delicious cold noodles in a light sweet and spicy sauce, set off perfectly with zingy lime juice.
600g fresh egg noodles, cooked according to packet instructions
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 limes, juice one, quarter one to serve
Heat the oil in a wok before adding the ginger, garlic and chillies and stir-frying them for 2-3 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk together the tomato ketchup, chilli sauce, hoisin sauce and fish sauce. I find it helps a little to melt the sugar in the hot water separately before adding that to the bowl and whisking everything together.
Add the sauce to the wok, stir well to incorporate the ginger, garlic and chillies, and then bring to the boil before reduding the heat and simmering for 3-4 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
Add the prawns first and coat them in the sauce, and then add the noodles, coriander and lime juice, and stir/mix/shoogle until you’ve coated everything in the sauce.
Decant into lunch containers, leave to cool, and then pop into the fridge until needed. Best eaten at room temp with some fresh lime quarters to squeeze over.
Adapted from James Martin, Singapore Chilli Crab Noodles
Adapted from James Martin, Singapore Chilli Crab Noodles
I love foodgawker and pinterest for introducing me to food blogs I’d never have found otherwise, and recipes that make me go “hmmm… I could do that!” Like this one from Alexandra’s Kitchen for Spanakopita Strudels. Stuffed full of spinach and feta, a moreishly tasty flavour combo, the soft salty filling is perfectly contrasted by lovely crispy filo pastry.
And who doesn’t love recipes where the prep to results ratio is outrageously unbalanced in the favour of results, which this really is. The filling takes no time to put together and the pastry work is a total doddle thanks to spooning the butter over the filo rather than brushing it.
I’m also constantly on the lookout for new packable lunch ideas, because sarnies day after day after day gets a wee bit dull. So I tried this one Sunday afternoon to pack hubby of to work with the next day and was lucky there were any left after we ended up “testing” half the batch when they come out of the oven! To be honest, this is probably best eaten while still warm but it wasn’t half bad cold the next day with a mug of homemade soup 🙂
The trick to this recipe is simple – do not brush the butter over the pastry or try to cover every bit of it, if anything, the finished strudel will actually be lighter for the random spooning. Lay a second sheet of filo over the first and spoon three more teaspoons of butter over it, this time aiming for the areas you missed on the first sheet. Top with a third sheet and spoon another three teaspoons of butter over it, again aiming for any missed spots. Like this!
Scoop out a level 1/2 cup of the spinach and cheese filling…
… and place on the filo, about 2 inches from the bottom end nearest you.
Then fold the bottom of the filo over the filling…
…before folding the sides in, left first then right…
…and then from the bottom, fold the filling portion up and over itself until you’ve got a small parcel.
Place the parcel fold side down on your baking sheet and brush the top with butter.
Repeat until you run out of pastry or filling (or both!) – you should get six parcels out of this.
Spinach & Feta Strudels
A moreishly tasty flavour combo, the soft salty filling perfectly contrasted by lovely crispy filo pastry.
18 sheets of filo/phyllo pastry, approx 9 x 14 inches
I used Sainsbury’s from the chiller cabinet and got 15 sheets out of it that were just a little smaller than 9×14 but worked perfectly.
Start by preheating the oven to 175C/350F, line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Clear and clean your work surface so that you have enough room to comfortably accommodate the filo pastry sheets when they are laid out flat.
In batches, pulse the spinach in a food processor until it’s roughly chopped and place in a large bowl. Add the cottage cheese to the bowl, crumble in the feta cheese, add the beaten egg, and fold it all together with a spatula.
Lay one sheet of filo out flat with a short end towards you, and spoon/drizzle three teaspoons of the melted butter over it - do not brush the butter over the pastry or try to cover every bit of it, if anything, the finished strudel will actually be lighter for the random spooning.
Lay a second sheet of filo over the first and spoon/drizzle three more teaspoons of butter over it, this time aiming for the areas you missed on the first sheet.
Top with a third sheet and spoon/drizzle another three teaspoons of butter over it, again aiming for any missed spots.
Scoop out a level 1/2 cup of the spinach and cheese filling and place on the filo, about 2 inches from the bottom end nearest you. Then fold the bottom of the filo over the filling before folding the sides in, left first then right, and then from the bottom, fold the filling portion up and over itself until you’ve got a small parcel.
Place the parcel fold side down on your baking sheet and brush the top with butter.
Repeat until you run out of pastry or filling (or both!) – you should get six parcels out of this – and then pop in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown on top.
I’ve always made tuna the same way, always and forever the same way, honestly since I was about 12 or 13 years old and my friend Zara introduced me to her tuna mayo which was flavoured with, of all things, thyme. It really doesn’t feel like that long ago that we were sat in her kitchen eating it straight out of the bowl with spoons… I’m not sure if the squeeze of lemon came after, but my fallback and failsafe tuna recipe for the last 30 years has been tuna, mayo, squeeze of lemon and a crush of thyme, maybe a little chopped red onion through it as well if I’m not planning on being sociable 😉
And then I found this recipe on Natalie’s Daily Crave, and being permanently on the look out for good sandwich filler recipes (which is more difficult than you might think!) and having recently succumbed to the magic of tarragon I knew I had to give it a go. It did not disappoint!! I think it also helped that I accidentally bought a can of tuna in sunflower oil for this…, having bought tuna in brine or springwater for years now, I have to say the can in oil was so much nicer.
I didn’t have everything to hand so have noted the substitions I made which I don’t think would have detracted at all from the original.
Tuna Mayo Sarnie with Tarragon & Avocado
A newly discovered take on a failsafe and fallback sandwich filler that is intriguingly tasty.
2 generous tbsp mayo (or keep dobbing it in until it’s how you like it!)
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp whole grain dijon
1 medium shallot (about 1 tbsp, or equivalent finely chopped red onion)
1 tsp freshly chopped tarragon (I used trusty old Schwartz which turned out just fine)
1 avocado, sliced
4 slices of fresh bread
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Drain the tuna and tip into a bowl, then mash the tuna with a fork to break it up. Add the mayo, mustard and vinegar and mix well. Then add the shallot and tarragon and mix through. Taste and then season as required.
Whack it between two slices of buttered bread with the avocado slices and eat up 🙂
I love Mexican food. Maybe it’s because I’m an American, and we’re deluged with fantastic eats from our southerly neighbours. Or maybe it’s because I lived in Texas for awhile, and really came to love the Tex-Mex flavours you get down there. I like to think, really, it’s because Mexican food, done right, makes the best of fresh ingredients and gives you a dish that zings with flavour.
Fifi, on the other hand… Let’s just say that it’s been a trial getting her, shall we say… accustomed, to my enjoyment of Mexican food.
So, I bribe her with this guacamole. Maybe that’s cheating, but when you’re married, sometimes happy compromise involves being the sneakiest little bugger you can be, and finding every advantage you can. Thus, a bowl of this stuff.
It’s amazingly zingy with lime, and has a light freshness with coriander and tomato. Enjoy it with tortilla chips, or with your favourite Mexican food – we served it here with an impromptu lunch, born of having too many black beans for dinner-burritos, which I made into rather-nice-if-I-say-so-myself quesadillas.
But, without further ado, here’s the recipe. It really is simplicity itself.
Rustic homemade guacamole, all zingy with the lime. Definitely one of my favourite things!
1 medium tomato, peeled. (Cut a cross into the top and bottom, immerse into boiling water for about 20 seconds, then just peel the skin away with your fingers. Cut into small cubes.)
½ – 1 red chilli, de-seeded (also excellent when roasted!)
1 tbsp sour cream
As the avocado will begin to brown when exposed to air, juice your limes first. One juicy lime will usually be enough, but often it takes 1 and ½ to 2 before you have enough.
Add a pinch of salt to the lime juice and mix, this will help the seasoning get through all of your guacamole.
Cut your avocados in half length-wise and remove the stones. Then take a spoon to the flesh and just scoop out spoonfulls of avocado straight into the mixing bowl. Pour your lime juice and salt mixture over the avocado to keep it fresh.
Now coarsely chop a good-sized handful of coriander and add to the bowl.
Next add your garlic, ideally put through a garlic press, or chopped very finely, followed by the tomato, red onion and chilli.
Take a potato masher and give everything in the bowl a good bash. Follow with a fork and use that to do a bit finer mashing, while still keeping things fairly thick.
Next, add a bit of sour cream - you don’t want a lot as this can dilute the flavour. About 1 tbsp with these proportions works great, and adds a bit of tangy creaminess that, I think, really compliments the guacamole blend nicely.
All that's left is to decant into to a smaller container, cover, and give it some time to chill in the fridge. I usually do it for a few hours, but its fine to eat after just an hour if you can’t wait (fifi usually can’t!)
Don’t be tempted to do any of this in a food processor, it just doesn’t work, and you really want it to have a nice ‘rustic’ feel to it with random chunks of avocado in amongst the mash. It’s also much better for scooping onto tortilla chips that way.
It’s National Vegetarian Week, so in its honour we had a meat free lunch today which was anything but a hardship when lunch was as tasty as this! The flavour combo is mediterraneanish, but more by accident than by design, and was really a result of what was available at the deli counter that struck my fancy. The saltiness of the feta is a fantastic counterbalance to the sweetness of the hummus especially if, like me, you like caramelised onion hummus rather than plain. If you don’t like feta then something like a ricotta does just as well, and if you can find any wee red peppers at the deli counter that are already stuffed with your cheese of choice (like the ones in the picture), even better! And much as I like to make my own couscous sometimes I just can’t be arsed, like today, in which case may I recommend M&S’s roasted vegetable couscous as a perfectly good lazy alternative to homemade.
Lastly, the griddle pan bit is purely decorative and entirely optional. I just like the way it makes those pretty brown lines on my wrap 🙂
Mediterranean-Style Deli Wraps
Easy vegetarian wraps that you can toss together in minutes using all store-bought ingredients.