Tag Archives: food

Mushroom and Cherry Tomato Ragu

The U.K does not know how to celebrate Halloween properly. Every year, I watch Hocus Pocus approximately 10 times and totally forget that such a quaint and wholesome (minus the witches and zombies) Halloween doesn’t exist here. Sigh. Growing up in South West London, in a wealthy area filled with American families, I got to sample how Halloween SHOULD be. Grottos, street parties, kids overdosing on sugar in uncomfortable masks and cheap witches hats – unfortunately where we live now is not quite the same. On the upside, Ivy had a great time and has subsequently spent today saying ‘trick or treat’ instead of ‘hello’ to everyone she meets. Poor kid doesn’t realised that me and her daddy demolished half her sweet collection while she was sleeping last night – I was thinking about her teeth OKAY???

The funnest part for me is always the pumpkin carving. This year me and my boyfriend were in slight competition as per usual. I obviously won. I needn’t even say which one is mine.

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(But just in case my confidence is a little over-stated and deluded, its the one on the left)

I really wanted to come up with some amazing pumpkin inspired recipe but if I am being completely honest, I just don’t like pumpkin very much. Plus the whole pumpkin carving process was so stressful and treacherous that I had no desire to eat the damn thing once I  was done. When it comes to happy holiday celebrations, I am still learning. Upon second reading, I also realise that this contradicts with my previous statement proclaiming my love of pumpkin carving. But isn’t love stressful and treacherous sometimes? Bit of philosophical thinking for ya there.

So instead I came up this. I have only started liking and eating mushrooms recently. This is a very big deal for me, suddenly being a healthy vegetarian is so much easier! Plus, mushrooms are cheap. And really really tasty. I don’t know what I was thinking all these years.

Mushroom and Cherry Tomato Ragu (serves 4)

250g chesnut mushrooms, sliced

A handful of shiitake or oyster mushrooms, sliced

1 red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1-2 celery sticks, diced

150g cherry tomatoes, halved

Sugar

1 can chopped tomatoes

Tablespoon of tomato paste

Worcester sauce

100ml white wine

Handful of basil leaves, torn

Salt and pepper, to taste

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 200c. In a baking tray, lay out the halved cherry tomatoes, season with a little sugar, salt and pepper and a few glugs of olive oil and leave aside.

In a heavy based pan, heat oil. Add the onion and fry until softened, then adding the garlic, celery and mushrooms, cooking for a further 3-4 minutes. Pour in the white wine and cook on a high heat for 5 minutes, then adding the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to the boil, then simmer, adding the worcester sauce and a teaspoon of sugar.

Once the sauce is simmering, put the cherry tomatoes in the oven and roast for about 20-25 minutes then remove from oven. Carry on simmering the ragu sauce until it is quite thick, then stir in the tomatoes and heat for a few minutes. Serve on buttery spaghetti and add the basil leaves to garnish.

Here is this entry’s slightly more attractive photo:

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Thai Coconut Noodle Soup

Wow, I have been really crappy at keeping up with this blog. That is not to say that we have been eating crap this whole time, just that settling in in Brighton/festivals/enjoying the last of the summer has taken up my time. There isn’t a lot to report, aside from a lot of time watching Ivy go up and down those tacky slides they have along all English seafronts, buying a really expensive bell tent at last minute because the thought of festival-ing with our little shitty two man tent made me want to cry, and watching Ivy grow into a chatty little madam who is impartial to the odd poo joke every now and then.Image

So I came up with this recipe a few weeks ago and was surprised by how delicious it was. I made the mistake of using reduced fat coconut milk though so had to send Dom out on an emergency trip to buy creamed coconut as it just tasted too watery. You could also use a different thai paste if panang is too spicy for your liking, I am practicing the ‘forcing your child into having high spice tolerance’ style of parenting.

1 tablespoon oil (I use groundnut)

150g tenderstem broccoli, stalks chopped off

100g baby corn, halved

A few shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1/2 head bok choy

1.5-2 tablespoons of a thai paste of your choice, I used panang

1 tin of coconut milk

150ml water

1 teaspoon of palm sugar

Thai fish sauce

150g noodles – I used sharwoods ‘straight to wok’ noodles but only because my crappy local tesco didn’t supply rice noodles

A bunch of chopped coriander

Heat oil in the pan and add paste and a splash of the coconut milk and stir fry until aromatic. Add the chopped vegetables, the rest of the coconut milk and water, a few dashes of fish sauce and the palm sugar and simmer for half an hour, adding more water if it begins to thicken too much. Add noodles and simmer for a further 5 minutes then remove from heat, stir through chopped coriander and serve.

Voila.

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Sweet Potato Cakes

So, we are here. Ivy is already completely in love with Brighton, as are we. The only catch being that our landlord seems to have the most questionable taste in decor I have ever seen, but thankfully has allowed us to change it as much as we like – so we are staying with my mum while Dom makes it semi acceptable. When and how could anyone  ever think that royal blue walls and green carpets look good together? I totally imagined my first summer in Brighton relaxing in the sun on our local beach but thanks to this crappy weather we have been stuck inside for the most part, slowly developing cabin fever.

This isn’t my own recipe, and it is due to Ivy’s grabby hands that I found it. My mum has a freakishly large collection of recipe books (despite the fact that I can recall her making no more than 3 of the recipes since I was, I don’t know, 3) and Ivy is completely OBSESSED with Jamie Oliver’s cheeky little face. She stands by the books constantly pointing at him going ‘J-J!’ and trying to feed and kiss him – its weird and adorable in equal measure. So yesterday she was pulling out all the recipe books and placed an old Waitrose recipe card on my lap and I thought that anything with the words ‘sweet potato’ and ‘cake’ sound right up Ivy’s street. It would be a nice change to the usual sweet potato wedges that I make every time I’m feeling lazy.

Grating the sweet potato took fucking forever but you could be not as cheap as me and invest in a food processor, next time I think I’ll prepare them when Ivy is in bed and keep them chilled in the oven, I served them with veggie sausages and peas but they would make a great healthy lunch too. I only made half the recipe but they were so popular I will definitely make the full batch next time!

Sweet Potato Cakes

750g sweet potato, grated

100g goat’s cheese, crumbled

1 small onion, finely sliced and halved

1 garlic clove, minced or finely chopped

Oil

2 medium eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 220c. Heat oil in a pan and add onion and garlic until softened and browned. Add sweet potato, eggs and goat’s cheese and stir until mixed, shape into cakes (could make 4 large cakes but I made 8 mini ones). Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 25-30 minutes.

So we may have a house of mismatched colours and the rainiest July on record, but it could be worse, right?

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Chickpea Fajitas

Yep, chickpeas again.

My ability to stay calm when a sense of urgency is really necessary is a truly well-honed skill. In a couple of days we are moving all the way from Bristol to Brighton, and on top of that today was Ivy’s birthday, I have a uni assignment due in and I also seem to have caught whatever diseases Ivy has decided to pass onto me this week. Colds, by the way, do not seem to be helped by traipsing around in the rain for over an hour while Ivy is pushed around on her new scooter like some kind of queen of the world:

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Dom took Ivy away to his parent’s for 5 days so I can “get us organised” and what do I do? Go to London for two days, come back to Bristol with a chronic hangover and spend the next 2 nights watching 90s teen horror films and sobbing a little bit when thinking about how much I miss Ivy. I am so shit.

It is kind of impossible for me to think about how much we have to do over this weekend without feeling a little like I am about to have a heart attack, so instead I have decided not to bother tidying up Ivy’s birthday crap because it’ll all be going into boxes anyway, and am currently eating the face off of Ivy’s caterpillar cake. So the last few days of living in our lovely house will be spent in a room looking like this:

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Of course, I left the present-wrapping and balloon-inflating until last minute as well so had to make a quick and easy dinner that didn’t require venturing out into the rain and buying ingredients (seriously England, what the fuck? Its July!). Because I was using what was in my kitchen, I replaced soured cream with half fat creme fraiche which was just as delicious. I also made my own seasoning using this recipe:http://cookingtipoftheday.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/recipe-fajita-seasoning.html but replaced the chicken stock cube with a vegetable stock cube. Ivy likes a bit of spice but you can obviously adjust the amount of chilli and cayenne powder depending on how much of a badass your kid is.

Chickpea Fajitas (2 adults, 1 kid)

5-6 flour tortillas

1 packet of fajita seasoning or homemade seasoning from link above

2 peppers (I used green and yellow)

1 tin of chickpeas, drained

1 onion, sliced

Soured cream or creme fraiche

Salsa

Avocado, diced

Heat oil in a pan and add onion for a few minutes until it starts to soften, then add the peppers, chickpeas and seasoning and cook until the chickpeas have softened. Serve with the cream, salsa and avocado and a big side salad and sweet potato wedges.

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Stewed Apple with Manuka Honey

So I have a poorly Ivy this week. I hate seeing her feel rubbish but hey, its an excuse to stay in pyjamas and watch Peter Pan on the laptop so Ivy is coping, little soldier

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It is so tough when they aren’t old enough to verbalise how they are feeling, but going by the fact that she had a temperature last night, a little puke and has been refusing to eat any solid foods today I am guessing that she has some kind of throat infection. Feeding her a cup a soup (her first full sentence today was ‘more soup please’, after saying ‘more please soup’ about 5 times) I just NEEDED to get some vitamins into her, watch her gulp down those horrid salty crappy tasting soups was painful for me.

So I decided to make some stewed apple, then remembered the manuka honey sitting in my cupboard, unused after all those months ago when my mum called me repeatedly and barked the health benefits at me until I finally relented and bought a jar to appease her. Apparently manuka honey is great for healing wounds, sore throats and other general cold and flu symptoms. Usually, I am a bit skeptical of anything that claims to miraculously heal you and make you live to 100 when the prices are usually insanely high, but I figured it was worth a try and it would probably make the stew taste a little nicer anyway.

Here is the very simple recipe. It feels like kind of a waste of a post but given that I haven’t cooked anything for 2 days it was either this or instructions on how to boil water and stir it into soup mix.

Stewed Apple with Manuka Honey (serves 2)

2 dessert apples; I used pink ladies

1 teaspoon cinnamon

15g raisins

1 tablespoon manuka honey

75ml water

Peel and core apple and chop into small cubes. Place the apple in a small saucepan and add the rest of the ingredients, stir, cover and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes until very soft and mushy, stirring occasionally. Next time I make this, I think I’ll try sprinkling some oats and adding a dollop of greek honey and the end, so I can trick myself into thinking I’m eating apple pie.

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It went down well

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As a side note, has anyone else watched Peter Pan recently? I don’t remember him being such an asshole, geez.

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Easy and Quick Chickpea Korma

My boyfriend has just taken Ivy out on his fortnightly ‘daddy-daughter day’ to the Aquarium, (so glad I am not included in this, octopus give me nightmares) so because I am nursing a mild hangover I am choosing to ignore my messy house and talk about food instead.

Chickpeas are definitely one of my favourite pulses. I have this weird thing about Quorn, something about the texture about it makes me feel all funny and grossed out, so I usually end up resorting to either chickpeas or lentils. For a long time Ivy refused to partake in any chickpea-eating activities much to my chagrin, until I discovered that if I call them ‘chicken peas’ she will laugh hysterically and then shovel them all down. That’s a bit weird, right? So now we have chickpea meals at least once a week, chickpea fajitas being my most recent discovery but a chickpea korma is definitely our favourite. I never thought I could say chickpea so much in one paragraph.

I feel like a bit of a cheat including this because I don’t make the paste myself but it is such a great meal to make if you have had a busy day, got home late and in a rush to make dinner before the little ones crash out. Sometimes in that situation I find myself resorting to making some pretty dull and not particularly healthy meals so this is a great one to have planned. I usually use Marks and Spencers korma paste but I’m sure any would do, or you could even make your own ahead of time and keep it in the fridge!

Chickpea and Spinach Korma

1 medium onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1cm ginger, finely chopped or minced

1/2 jar korma paste

1 tin of coconut milk

1/2 yellow pepper, diced

200g fresh spinach

1 tin of chickpeas

Vegetable oil

Basmati rice, to serve

Heat oil in a large pan and add onions, cook until softened. Add ginger and garlic and cook for a further minute, then add the paste and stir fry until aromatic. Pour in the coconut milk, bring to the boil, add chickpeas and yellow pepper, then turn down to simmer. Cover and simmer for approx. 20 minutes until chickpeas and pepper are softened. Stir in spinach until wilted and then serve with steaming hot rice.

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heh heh heh heh. Chicken peas.

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Simple Vegetable Risotto

It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that risotto is not a culinary masterpiece and total pain in the ass to make. As a student, I thought that I could call myself a ‘good cook’ because I was capable of putting a quorn fillet in the oven and boiling pasta, anything that involved chopping an onion was considered too scary and abandoned. It still makes me embarrassed when I think of the look on my boyfriend’s face when he discovered that I didn’t know how to fry an egg, (I DONT EVEN LIKE EGGS WHY DO I NEED TO KNOW HOW TO COOK THEM????) but since having Ivy I have turned into a pretty decent cook, and oh how I love to prove that man wrong.

So, I digress; once I finally braved my risotto and realised it was pretty simple, albeit a little tedious, it has become a staple in the house when I need to use up vegetables in the fridge. My other using-up-veg failsafe meal is a vegetable thai green curry but it is so easy it doesn’t even warrant a post: Tesco thai green curry paste (the most mild), coconut milk, vegetables of your choice, a splash of fish sauce and a teaspoon of sugar, simmered for 20 minutes. Done.

The risotto takes a bit more effort (and even, GASP, involves chopping an onion) but the effect of this meal is magical, Ivy will literally eat anything that I hide in risotto. I could probably make a risotto of brussel sprouts and old pieces of play doh and she would still ask for seconds.

We don’t have a t.v because we are weirdos, so keeping Ivy entertained while staying close to the pan sometimes proves to be a bit of a challenge and I resort to In The Night Garden on BBC Iplayer so Ivy can dance to that stupid makka pakka song (what is that shit?) and I can stir in peace, but often she just sits on the countertop and “helps” by dipping a wooden spoon in and out occasionally and eating Rice Krispies out of the box after I ask her not to.

Vegetable Risotto (this serves 4 people)

Knob of butter or olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

250g arborio risotto rice

Vegetables of your choice – in this risotto I used 1 carrot quartered, half a pack of asparagus halved, half a head of broccoli chopped and frozen peas

1 litre vegetable stock

2 tablespoons of soft cheese

Head oil or butter in a pan until hot and add onion and fry gently for 5 minutes until softened. Add vegetables and garlic and fry for a further couple of minutes, then add the rice and fry until the rice is hot, stirring frequently. Pour in a good amount of stock (about half) and bring to the boil, then simmer. Once the stock is absorbed, add more with a ladle and keep adding until the rice is soft and cooked – it may take a little more than advised but the risotto still retain a good texture and shouldn’t be congealed. Add the soft cheese and stir through and serve.

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Great risotto. Shame my Rice Krispies stock is depleted.

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