Thursday, 28 June 2012

Farfalle with Savoy and Pumpkin

Another wonderful vegetable that is coming into season is the Savoy cabbage. Not the sad pale white cabbage that falls to sock-smelling pieces as soon as it is cooked, but the delicious bouncy dark leaves that can be plunged into boiling water, or quickly fried, and still retain their savoury bite and nutty aroma. It also lasts forever, even out of the fridge... and it takes a long time to eat a whole head! Tonight's recipe was borrowed from Jamie Oliver, and then edited by the SO into his own version.


  • a quarter of a pumpkin
  • a few rashers of bacon
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • a handful of thyme, leaves stripped
  • 5-6 large leaves of Savoy cabbage
  • 250g farfalle or other pasta
  • a big chunk of Parmesan

Cube the pumpkin and roast for 30-40 minutes, until soft and golden. Shred the cabbage into fine strips. Slice the bacon thinly and fry for a few minutes until cooked; add the garlic and thyme, cook for a further minute, then add the shredded cabbage; cover and cook for five minutes, shaking or stirring every so often to prevent it sticking. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to its instructions, or until al dente. When the cabbage is tender (but not overcooked!) and the pasta is done, drain the latter and serve topped with the former, the pumpkin, grated Parmesan, black pepper and (as Jamie would have it) a glug of very nice olive oil.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Roast Chicken and Oranges

Oranges are coming back into season, which is wonderful as they're simply delicious here. We're still eating the chicken - we don't eat a lot of meat in each meal! With a little blanched, shredded Savoy, and a generous serving of tiny roast potatoes, a wing and a thigh each are just right.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Telecon Tuna

Tuesday night is telecon night; in summer I have time to cook as Cambridge aren't on daylight savings, but in winter the call starts soon after I get home, so usually super-Man does the cooking. This time he stir-fried some Chinese vegetables with ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sesame seeds, prepared some fragrant Thai rice, and topped the lot with a perfectly-seared tuna steak. I had to mute the microphone to enjoy this properly :)

Monday, 25 June 2012

Chicken Soup

Slowly on the mend from the bad belly - Zumba was very hard work with my stomach complaining and cramping for half the class. What better to soothe it than a homely chicken soup?

Sunday, 24 June 2012

French-ish Salad

Back from Bangalore with a bad belly >.< Luckily my wonderful husband knows that after a long trip, all I want is vegetables and water; this French-ish salad and a little pumpkin scone were delightful!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Pasta with Tomatoes and Butternut Squash

This is a huge fallback recipe for us - in fact for my whole family. The basic flavours are all there: tomatoes - sharp, squash - sweet, bacon - umami, Parmesan - salt, and herbs for depth and I guess any bitterness that one might want in food! It's really easy to put together, especially if you have leftover sausages and/or roast butternut squash or pumpkin lying around in the fridge, as we frequently do. But I'll give the recipe 'from scratch' assuming no shortcuts.


  • one small, or half of a large butternut squash, or equivalent amount of tasty eating pumpkin
  • a good handful of fresh rosemary or oregano, cleaned and chopped (or 1-2 tsp dried)
  • a couple of sausages, or 5-6 rashers of bacon
  • four ripe tomatoes, or a tin of chopped tomatoes
  • five cloves of garlic
  • a chunk of Parmesan cheese

Cube the butternut squash, and if you have time, roast it in a 180C oven for 40 minutes tossed in the herbs and a little vegetable oil, until golden and singed at the edges. If you don't have time, just cube it and toss with the herbs. Grill or fry the sausages or bacon until cooked, then cut into bite-size pieces.

Chop the tomatoes (remove the skins first if you're picky). Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan and crush in the garlic; fry over a low heat for 30-50 seconds until golden and fragrant. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir. If you didn't roast the butternut squash, add it now, and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the tomatoes have softened and reduced into a sauce. This is also a good time to cook your pasta.

When the sauce is cooked, add the cooked sausages or bacon, and roasted butternut squash if you didn't add it earlier. Warm through, and serve over drained pasta, which you can toss with a little pesto or crème fraîche if you like.


A wonderful way to start the weekend - although taking the time to make them after Zumba and a shower was an exercise in patience! I used to use Delia's recipe but nowadays I just chuck a load of ingredients in a bowl and whisk them all together at once, then thin it out with water as needed. Ingredients being: three eggs, about 3/4 cup of flour, about the same again in milk, a tbsp ish of vegetable oil, a tsp of sugar and a pinch of salt. Toppings are more important! My favourite combinations are:

  • Peanut butter and banana slices
  • plain white sugar and lemon juice
  • maple syrup and crème fraîche
And I had a cup of tea while making them. YUM.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Warm Salad of Sweet Potato, Quinoa and Prunes

Just the ticket to go with my totally nom sweetcorn patties. Would work well any time of year, but it's pretty handy right now with sweet potatoes dropping in price by the day.
Sweetcorn patties, avocado & kiwi salsa, and
salad of sweet potato, quinoa and prunes


  • 100g quinoa
  • one large sweet potato
  • a large handful of plump prunes
  • 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

If you have very dry prunes, soak them in warm water for ten minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. Boil the quinoa for ten minutes, or as according to its packet instructions. Cut the sweet potato into small cubes and simmer for five minutes, then check for doneness every minute onward, until sweet and tender, but not falling apart. Drain the quinoa and potato very well, then put in a salad bowl. Finely dice the prunes and add.

Put the vinegar, honey and olive oil in a jar or bowl and microwave for 10-20 seconds, until warm and the honey is very runny. Whisk together with a fork and pour over the sweet potato, quinoa and prunes, then toss together.

Sweetcorn Patties

Was tempted this morning to pop into the butchers' on the way home, and lazily meat my way out of my inventiveness failure. But NO! Instead I remembered that I'd been meaning to make sweetcorn patties for ages, but hadn't because sweetcotn were so perfect on the barbeque during the summer. Miraculously they're still cheap in the store so we picked up a couple at the weekend, along with a massive bag of cheap and wonderful avocados - perfect for salsa. With the remaining sweet potato and a couple of store-cupboard tricks, I had a whole meal ready to eat in half an hour, which was good as I stayed late finishing my talk for the conference in India next week.


  • kernels cut from two large sweetcorn-on-the-cob
  • one large egg
  • 5 tbsp plain flour (chickpea would probably be quite tasty too)
  • three spring onions, roughly cut into pieces

Put half the kernels, the egg, plain flour, and spring onions in a blender, season well with salt and black pepper, and whiz into a chunky paste. Stir with the remaining kernels. Heat a little vegetable oil over a low heat in a non-stick pan. Using two spoons, drop 2-tbsp-size portions into the pan, and flatten with the back of the spoons into a patty shape. Fry gently, about 4 minutes per side, until golden and cooked through.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Sausages and Apple Rings

Reposting a classic fallback. Another prepped-by-man pile of awesomeness! Particularly his inventive tripling of the quantity of mashed potato needed to feed two people ;)

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Chestnuts and Savoy in Cream and Juniper

I've been thinking about making something like this since we went shopping at the weekend, and tonight all the parts collapsed together to make a fantastic scrobbly combination of tastes and textures. It's an unholy union of a Nigel Slater cabbage recipe with a sprouts dish we make at Christmas. We had to use dried chestnuts, rehydrated by soaking overnight and then boiled for 45 minutes until cooked, but in the UK I used to easily find tinned or vacuum-packed chestnuts. Juniper berries were also a bit of a pain to track down over here, but eventually I found them in our local 'combined market' - a sort of cheap warehouse where the main floor sells veg and staples, and the side stands include a deli and a butcher. Neither are substitutable, I'm afraid!


  • 1 tsp juniper berries
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/4 large Savoy or other very good winter cabbage
  • 300g peeled, cooked chestnuts, broken up into large pieces
  • 75g coppa or your favourite Italian smoked meat
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt (to taste)

Crush the juniper berries and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle until they are a mulch. Wash the cabbage and thinly slice into long strips. Blanch in boiling water for just one minute, then immediately drain. In the pan that you cooked the cabbage, gently fry the juniper berry and peppercorn mulch in a little olive oil until fragrant. Return the cabbage to the pan, along with the chestnuts, coppa, cream, honey and salt. Warm through and immediately turn off the heat. Serve over hot mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Butternut Squash, Goat Feta and Rocket Pizza

It's a lovely photo of one of our favourite pizzas! This one was entirely prepared by my super-husband while I teleconned, which kept me from interfering with his oven and pizza stone management. :)

Monday, 11 June 2012

Miso Soup with Shimeji Mushrooms

A slightly bulked-up variant on my previous miso soup, as I had a very long day running around getting my Indian visa sorted, suffered a flat tire on my bicycle, and had to catch up on nearly a week's worth of email. Helpful husband locked himself out of the house so I needed to put together something fairly quickly. I attempted to follow a recipe, but substituted every single ingredient. Heh.


  • a small handful of dried shitake mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • sesame oil
  • a sweet potato, daikon, carrot, or parsnip
  • 1 tsp dashi or seafood stock powder
  • 3 tbsp of miso paste
  • a couple of pak choi or bok choi, or other leafy Chinese vegetables
  • a block of shimeji or a couple of handfuls of oyster mushrooms
  • two spring onions
  • finely shredded nori (seaweed)

Pour enough boiling water over the shitake mushrooms to cover, and leave for at least ten minutes to fully rehydrate. Dry-fry the sesame seeds until golden, then set aside for later. Peel and cut the sweet potato (or other root vegetable) in half lengthwise, then into fat half-moons (about the only thing I kept from the original recipe). Prepare a wok with a tsp of sesame oil and a tsp of vegetable oil, and a large stock pot or sauce pan with the stock powder in the bottom. Fry the sweet potato in the wok for a few minutes, turning irregularly, so it begins to caramelise. When the half-moons have taken on a golden colour around the edges, tip them into the stock pot, and cover with boiling water. Add the miso paste, shitake mushrooms, and their soaking water (although be careful not to add any grit). Simmer for five minutes - stop as soon as the sweet potatoes begin to yield to a fork.

Meanwhile, separate the leaves from the pak choi, and cut the stalks into diagonal pieces. Stir fry for a couple of minutes, then add to the soup in the stock pot. Separate the shimeji mushrooms with your hands. Turn the wok up to a high heat, then fry the mushrooms for a minute on each side, then add them to the soup. Slice the spring onions lengthwise and roughly chop with the pak choi greens, then add them to the soup. Simmer for a minute or so to bring the soup up to temperature, finish cooking the sweet potato, and wilt the greens, then turn off the heat. Taste and add more miso or a splash of soy sauce if necessary. Serve with the sesame seeds and shredded seaweed scattered over.

Sunday, 10 June 2012


Just got back from diving and snorkelling in Exmouth, where we saw the amazing whale sharks :) As usual we ate too much fish n chips, and too many snacky carby things on the dive boat. And when we got back, we found some kind of hurricane had hit Perth, leaving trees toppled, a gale howling, and the temperature a chilly 18 C (lol). So I'm moving back into warming winter recipes, and particularly focussing on fresh vegetables to get us back into health before I go to India next week. Luckily we got back an hour before the shops closed, so managed to pick up some really excellent produce. I'm shopping seasonally, which means some of the summer things like peppers, aubergines and plums have fallen off the menu, but coming in are root vegetables, cabbage and pumpkin.

Tonight I really wanted the sharp tang of a minestrone, combined with the pleasing softness of simple cannellini beans and the heady aroma of fresh basil. So I made a variation on my previous recipe, skipping the green beans, putting the cannellini in at the end (they are much less sturdy than chick peas), and adding a swirl of rocket and basil leaves to the bowls as I served out the stew. Delicious.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Beef Stroganoff - Quick Version

Mmm, great for a post-Zumba-workout day! There are two ways of cooking stroganoff - this is the 'quick-cook' method, for which you need to buy very good beef, so that it sears and cooks quickly, without becoming watery or tough. If you are using a cheaper cut, you'll need to stew it much longer - I'll try to make that version another time. Along with some simple steamed vegetables, we usually serve this with tagliatelle, but hot fresh bread or mashed potatoes would probably work delightfully. Wikipedia has just informed me that my version is completely un-authentic, and rice is the proper accompaniment. Oh well :)


  • 500g mushrooms
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 300g very good fillet or rump steak
  • half a glass of white wine
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 150g crème fraîche

Slice the mushrooms into 1/2-cm thick pieces, cutting parallel to the stalk to make them attractive. Fry over a medium heat until softened, then crush in the garlic and fry for a further minute. Remove from the pan. Slice the steak thinly into long pieces. Heat oil in the pan until smoking, then sear the beef pieces quickly on each side - about 10 seconds a pop if you have the pan properly hot and the beef nice and thin. Remove from the pan and rest on a plate for a minute, retaining any juices. Turn down the heat and deglaze the pan with the wine, then return the beef and mushrooms to the pan, and add the paprika and creme fraiche. Stir gently to combine and reheat - don't boil or the cream will separate. Serve over the pasta with a handful of chopped fresh parsley.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Roast Courgettes with Tomatoes

Really hesitating to include this, as it was rather... boring. But the recipe book was wrong, and I want to correct that. For posterity. Served this with some haggis, and tripled the flavouring ingredients all the way through the recipe, so actually it was all fine. I just wish I had some better vegetarian recipes. I couldn't imagine serving this as a main portion, even with all my additions. The original didn't even have any herbs or balsamic in it, and 1/6th the amount of garlic. /facepalm

Left: 1300s Scottish food. Right: 1970s vegetarian food.
What? It's fusion...

  • four courgettes
  • three tomatoes
  • a generous handful of fresh herbs - e.g. oregano, marjoram, basil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • two cloves of garlic
  • a big slice of bread
  • lots of salt and pepper, and olive oil
  • cheddar or fontina cheese (optional)
Preheat the oven to 160 C. Slice the courgettes lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon, then lay them skin-side-down in a roasting tin. Crush the garlic cloves into a bowl and glug in some olive oil, and season well. Spread the garlicy goo all over the inside of the courgettes, then lay down the herbs. Slice the tomatoes and put them on top. Drizzle over a little balsamic vinegar. Roast at 160C for 30 minutes.

Blitz the breadcrumbs in a blender. Remove the tray from the oven, cover in breadcrumbs and drizzle with olive oil; cook for a further 25 minutes. Remove again, top with grated cheese, turn up the heat to 200 C and roast for a final five minutes.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Back from Bali: Haggis!

We were in Bali last weekend for a short holiday and on our return we had just a touch of the 'Bali belly'! So this week has been very much a back-to-basics week; we've had lamb abruzzio, quesadillas, pasta with roast tomatoes, fajitas, and pork chops. Nothing exciting but no time to experiment. Tonight we made something I've been meaning to since January 25th this year -- haggis :) There is a little 'expat' shop down Albany Highway that sources them from a local butcher; at $20 a pop they're not cheap, but they certainly are tasty :) And more authentic than the ones I got back in the UK! I think this one was actually made with a real stomach. Mmmmm....