Lemon and White Chocolate Puddings

Another recipe inspired by Denis Cotter. His called for lemon verdanna but I had none. I also didn’t have enough white chocolate to make the full amount so improvised. The result is a lovely light lemony pudding.

For about 6 puddings you need
100g ricotta
150g white chocolate, melted
2 whole eggs
1 eggs white
75ml double cream
zest and juice of 1 lemon

Melt the chocolate and mix all the other ingredients together. Once the chocolate has melted mix into the batter and then pour into greased ramekins. Bake in a bain marie for about 25 mins till risen and set. Serve au naturel or with some fruit compote. A lovely refreshing and light end to a meal.

Leek and Blue Cheese Tartlets

A Denis Cotter recipe this one (from the Autumn and Winter Paradiso Year book). And OMG it’s lovely. I really should make pastry more often as it always seems to work well. Then again it’s not really the best thing in the world to eat is it?! If you don’t like blue cheese, don’t be put off making these as they have a lovely salty savoury flavour rather than a “THIS CONTAINS BLUE CHEESE” flavour!

For about six tartlets (or one big one) you need:
300g plain flour
150g cold salted butter
enough water to mix to a dough
400g finely shredded leeks
100g blue cheese (I used Blackstick White, yum yum yum)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp french mustard
large knob butter.

Begin by sweating the leeks and garlic in the butter over a gentle gentle heat for about 30 mins till they are meltingly tender and moist.

Meanwhile make the pastry. Blitz the butter and flour in a food processor then add the water to make the dough. Roll out and line the tins. Prick and bake blind for 15 mins or so. Fill with the leeks and then top with the crumbled cheese. Bake for about 30 mins till the cheese had melted into the leeks. Serve hot, warm or cold. They’re delicious with a glass of cold dry sherry and some semi dried tomatoes.

Banana Cake

I have to admit, I have sort of gone off this recipe, but only cos I’ve made it sooooooo many times. It was a staple of my pregnant/maternity leave days, and my secret confession is that I do prefer the raw batter to the finished article. But that’s just my opinion. Everyone else seems to love the cakes. I’ve just eaten too many of them…!

This is a Nigella recipe from Domestic Goddess.

You need:
175g plain flour
125g butter, melted
100g sultanas (I used mixed berries and cherries today)
60g chopped walnuts
80ml brandy or other booze of your choice, rum works well
2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb
150g vanilla sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 very ripe bananas, mashed

Begin by heating the dried fruit in the brandy and leaving aside for 10 mins or as long as you can to absorb the liquid. Melt the butter. Mash the bananas and then add everything else to the mashed bananas. I prefer the batter poured into individual cases but you can also bake it as a loaf. Either way bake in a moderate oven for 15 mins (fairy cakes) or 30-45 mins (loaf tin). The cake will rise and a skewer will come out clean when they’re done (if you use silicone cases then the cake will have shrunk away from the sides a little when it’s cooked.

They freeze very well, and it does keep but gets stickier and stickier (and smellier and smellier!) as it matures! Makes about 30 individual cakes or 2 x 2lb loaf cakes.

Cheats Vegetable Tikka Masala

It was very nearly eggy bread with beans for dinner tonight it’s been that long a week. But after bland dinner yesterday and even more bland lunch at work today I fancied a curry. So a cheats curry (i.e. one using a jar of sauce) we had.

For 2-3 servings you need:
1 jar Mumtaz tikka masala sauce
Mix of veggies we used:
cold, cooked new potatoes
2 carrots, diced
1 head broccoli
2 onions, diced
1/2 pack spinach (tho I forgot to add this d’oh!)
5 tbsp oil
4 tbsp ground almonds

Put the sauce into a pan and add another jar of water. Add the veggies and oil and bring to the boil. Simmer till the veggies are tender and the oil has split a bit (you’ll know what I mean cos it’ll look like a takeaway curry sauce). Then stir in the almonds. Serve with rice/naan/chips. Whatever!

Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Pasta

Today was supposed to be vegan day. But nothing inspiring jumped out of the fridge tonight so we had a veggie dish instead. N declared it a bit bland and samey towards the end but perfectly edible. Maybe it would have been nicer with blue cheese or some chilli. Will try those variations next time…

For 2 generous servings you need:
200g pasta
2 tomatoes, skinned and diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 bag baby leaf spinach
2 tbsp olive oil
6 tbsp mascapone
75ml white wine
125g sliced mushrooms

Cook the pasta. Meanwhile sautee the onions, garlic and mushrooms in the oil. After about 5 mins add the tomatoes, mascapone, ground pepper and wine. Simmer for a further 5 mins or so then add the spinach and wilt. Drain the pasta, toss through the sauce and top with parmesan. Perfect post ride fuel!

Vegetable and Chickpea Stew

I was going to make some tomato based stew but N really isn’t that keen on the whole beany-tomatoey stew thing any more so I ditched that at the last minute and produced this instead. It was yumsome and filling. Cool.

For 3-4 servings you need:
1 tin pulses (we had chickpeas)
1 onion, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 litre veggie stock
2 tsp cornflour slackened with some cold water
handful roughly chopped fresh parsley.

Begin by sauteeing the onion in some olive oil then add the carrot and sweet potato and continue sauteeing for a few mins. Add the stock and bring to the boil then simmer for about 15 mins till the veggies are tender. Add the cornflour and parsley, heat through and serve. We had it with broccoli and new potatoes. Even Lex had some, wonders will never cease!

Macaroni Cheese

Mmmmmm a total comfort food staple and a classic recipe! However it took my years to figure out that you need a runnier sauce than normal to make it on the right side of creamy rather than claggily heavy. I like to top mine with breadcrumbs and cheese. N prefers tomatoes. I do the cooking so we have breadcrumbs and cheese 😉 It’s nice served with something green to offset the fat and richness of the cheese.

For 4 servings you need:
200g pasta (use something that the sauce will cling to like fusilli or spirili)
30g butter
30g plain flour
1 pint milk
1 tsp french mustard
1 tsp mustard powder
125g grated cheese (a mix of emmental, gruyere and cheddar is nice)
2 handfuls breadcrumbs
2 tbsp grated parmesan

Begin by cooking the pasta. Whilst this is boiling away make the cheese sauce: put the milk, butter and flour into a pan and heat till thickened. Add the mustards, all bar 2 tbsp of the cheese and mix well. Drain the pasta and mix in to the sauce. Pour into a baking dish and top with the crumbs and remaining cheese. Bake in a hot oven for 20-30 mins then serve.

Thai Style Citrus and Coconut Broth

A variation on a HFW (huge furry whipping tool as he is known in our house) recipe for Thai Style Chicken Noodle Soup. It was delicious, but L and N found it a bit too sour. I loved it however.

For 4 generous portions you need
2 bundles rice noodles
1 can coconut milk
1 carton coconut cream
1 litre vegetable stock
1 packet frozen quorn pieces
2 inch piece ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Grated zest of a lemon and lime
Juice of a lemon
1 chilli, finely chopped
1/2 cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot, sliced
Chopped corriander to serve
2 tbsp soya sauce plus extra to garnish
1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp mirin

Place everything into a pan and bring to a simmmer. Cook for 5-10 mins until tender and serve in deep bowls topped with the corriander and some extra soya sauce.

Cheesy Potato Twists

Lex made these at school last week, and having brought the recipe home was desperate to make them with me. So we did.

You need:
100g plain flour
65g butter
50g grated cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp mustard powder
50g mashed potato
1 tbsp water (I had to use about 2)

Blitz the flour, salt, mustard and butter till they resemble breadcrumbs. Then add the potato, cheese and water and mix to a dough. Roll out till about the thickness of a £1 coin then cut into strips. Twist the strips and lay on a baking sheet, brush with a little milk and bake in a hot oven for 10 mins. Leave to cool and then eat. Delish!

Sweet Potato Wedges

A health(ier) alternative to chips, and one that counts towards your 5 a day…

Take a sweet potato, peel and slice into wedges. Place on to a baking sheet and add a drizzle of vegetable oil. Sprinkle over some salt and pepper and bake at 180 degrees for about 20 mins till soft and starting to crisp up. Allow 1 potato per person. They’re nice as a side to most things or dipped into different sauces e.g. blue cheese dip; curry sauce; sweet chilli sauce. You can also add different spices to them before you cook them e.g. baharat; cumin; smoked paprika etc.