Chicken Provencale with roasted peppers, courgettes and olives

February 15, 2011

As you know I have been on a quest to find meals that freeze well. Sadly most recipes don’t have any advice on freezing. Nevertheless I have come up with a selection of great meals that freeze well and are healthy too. We all have such hectic lives these days that having a few tasty meal in the freezer is an absolute winner. A good way to build up your supply is cook one new dish each night for a week but instead of making just enough for dinner make a few extra portions and freeze them. By the end of the week you will have 10 – 15 fabulous meals tucked away for a rainy day. Excellentio!

Ingredients (serves 6 to 8 people)

1.5 kg boneless chicken thigh (ideally free range)
60 grams butter
3 tins of peeled tomatoes
2 red peppers
2 yellow peppers
3 courgettes
2 red onions
8 cloves of garlic
12 anchovy fillets
4 vine ripened tomatoes
Small bunch of parsley
1 1/2 glass of white wine
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Tsp of sugar
1 small jar of Kalamata olives (about 300 grams)

Method

Halve and remove the seeds for the peppers and pop in a ceramic oven proof dish, add an anchovy fillet a 1/4 of a tomato and sliced garlic (2 cloves between the lot). Liberally drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 45 mins – 1 hour or until peppers have collapsed and are tender.

As the peppers are baking finely dice the onion and crush the rest of the garlic. Saute in a large glug of olive oil (about 3 tbsp) and a pinch of salt. Saute on a low-medium heat until soft and sweet. Add 4 anchovy and continue to cook until they are “melted”.

Add the tinned peeled tomatoes, 1 glass of white wine and the drained Kalamata olives and tsp of sugar.

Bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat until tomatoes have broken down (30 mins).

While the sauce is simmering, trim the chicken removing any excess fat. Melt butter in a heavy based frying pan add chicken and brown all over . Once browned remove and set aside in a separate bowl/plate. Do not over crowd the pan so do this in batches.

Once all chicken is browned pop it back into the pan and add a little wine to ensure all the pan flavours are used. Simmer for a couple of minutes then add into the tomato sauce (add a little water if sauce is too thick). Simmer for a further 35 minutes (or until chicken is cooked through and tender).

Slice the courgettes length wise into 4 mm slices (approx). Toss in olive oil and season with S & P and grill in a char grilling pan. If you do not have one you can roast the courgettes in the oven on a baking sheet or fry in a normal frying pan.

The courgettes need to tender.

Slice courgettes into 2 cm slices and mix through sauce with finely chopped parsley. Season to taste and serve with one halved baked pepper. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes. Delish!

When freezing, portion out into individual serves adding 1 half pepper to each. Make sure the chicken is cooled as quickly as possible and frozen straight away.

This should keep for 3 months in the freezer. Remove from freezer 1 day before and defrost thoroughly in fridge before reheating. Reheat by popping into a heavy based sauce pan and slowly bringing to a simmer. Always ensure that when reheating food it is heated until piping hot. Try not to reheat too vigorously as it may toughen up the chicken.


Fabulously chocolatey gooey pavlova with raspberries and whipped cream – if you don’t try this you are a fool!!

February 15, 2011

Honestly I mean it. You would have to be slightly mental not to absolutely love this Pavlova. Many many years ago one of my friends handed me a tatty photocopy of a Nigella Lawson Chocolate Pavlova recipe and made me promise that I would make it. She assured me that I would not be disappointed. And was spot on. I have no idea where the original recipe is now but this makey-uppy version is now one of my “old faithfuls”. Meringue is honestly not difficult to make. The best thing about it is even if it cracks and looks like an absolute disaster it still tastes and looks amazing as soon as you cover it with whipped cream and fruit. Perfect!

Ingredients serves (8 – 10)

6 egg whites (large eggs ideally free range organic)
400 grams caster sugar
teaspoon of white wine vinegar
2 tbsp of best quality cocoa powder (I used Green and Blacks)
100 grams best quality dark chocolate finely chopped (I used Green and Blacks 70%)
2 teaspoons of corn flour
600 mls double cream
2 punnets of fresh raspberries

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees

Take a large mixing bowl and wash it thoroughly with hot soapy water to ensure there is absolutely no oil in it. Meringue hates oil!!

Separate the eggs and add only the white to the bowl – do not get ANY yolk in the egg white this will affect the whites from whisking properly.

If you do get some yolk or egg-shell in your whites use one of the halved egg shells to remove it rather than a spoon – sounds daft but it makes getting the shell/yolk out much easier.

Weigh out your caster sugar.

Whisk whites until stiff peaks form – I used an electric whisk – you can use a manual whisk but prepare for arm burning.

Slowly add sugar a couple of table spoons at a time and whisk. Keep doing this until all the sugar is combined and mixture is shiny and thick.

Add tsp of white wine vinegar, 2 tbsp of cocoa powder, finely chopped chocolate and 2 tsp of corn flour and gently fold through until combined.

Dollop mixture onto a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper, spread out into a round or oval (consider what you are serving the pav on and try to make the shape suit the serving dish). Remember the meringue will spread out a little bit so make it smaller than the serving dish.

Pop it in the oven and immediately reduce the temp to 140 degrees (fan forced).

Bake for 45 mins and then allow to cool in the oven. The centre should still be squidgy a little like a baked chocolate mousse.

Once cool remove from oven and pop onto serving dish flipping the meringue over so that the bottom side is up.

Whisk cream until soft peaks form and spread over the Pavlova, cover the top with raspberries and voila – joy on a plate!

You can grate a little chocolate over the top too or dust with icing sugar if you are feeling “creative”, I have also made these as individual small meringues which is great for a party – they do not need as much time in the oven – about 20 mins.

Just to say again – you have to try this recipe!!!!!


Roasted butternut squash, spinach and feta tart

February 13, 2011

After a rather big night out with the girls I am feeling a smidgen jaded and have a wee tiny hangover. Sunday lunch with the family today and unfortunately I’m on cooking duty. The last thing I feel like doing is cooking! Can I go back to bed please…… Something simple and quick is in order me thinks. A whip round in Tescos for some essentials – tasty tart and salad, that’ll do nicely. Did I mention how much I love puff pastry? Shop bought puff pastry is a winner every time. No faffing around making your own and to make it even easier you can get ready rolled pastry – how good is that? Tarts are very simple and you can pretty much put anything on them. Mushrooms and caramelised onion, leek and Gruyere, Roasted tomato, basil and goats cheese etc etc. There are so many different combos to chose from. You can even do fruity sweet tarts too. YUM!

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 tin peeled tomatoes
1 red onion
4 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 butternut squash (about 700gm unpeeled)
250 grams of spinach
Parmesan (about 50 grams)
1/2 block of feta (about 100 grams)
1 ready roll sheet of All butter puff pastry

Method

First thing you will need to do is get the butternut squash prepared and in the oven to roast. Peel the squash and dice into 1cm cubes. One of my friends recently posted a status update on Facebook whingeing about how he had just been struggling with peeling a butternut squash. His biggest mistake was he was using a peeler. I strongly recommend you do not “peel” a squash you cut the peel off with a sturdy chef knife. Cut the top and the bottom off so that it sits on the board without rolling around then cut the bulbous end off (the bit with the seeds in). You should be left with the long thinner part and the bulbous bit. This will make cutting the peel off a heap easier. Does that make sense?

Ok now you have your butternut squash diced, pop it into a roasting tin or oven proof dish season with salt and pepper and toss in olive oil so it is evenly coated.

Roast in the oven at about 180 degrees for 30 mins or until soft and golden.

Set aside.

While the squash is roasting you can make the tomato sauce. Finely dice the onion and crush the garlic. Saute on a low-medium heat with a good hearty glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook until soft and sweet and the harshness of the onions has disappeared.

Add the tinned tomatoes and simmer until tomatoes have broken down and sauce has thickened up – about 30 minutes. The sauce needs to be the consistency of a pizza sauce.

Wash the spinach and saute in a pot with a splash of olive oil and season with S & P. Cook until just wilted then squeeze out the excess liquid through a sieve or colander.

Time to put the tart together.

Pop the sheet of puff pastry onto a non stick baking sheet. Score the pastry sheet along each edge about 2 cm in to create a border.

Spread the inside of the tart (not the edge part) with tomato sauce.

Finely grate over some Parmesan, sprinkle with butternut squash and dot with spinach. Crumble over 1/2 the feta and pop in a preheated oven 180 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes or until edges have puffed up and pastry is golden.

Serve immediately with a huge bowl of salad.

You will probably have enough to make 2 tarts and depending on how greedy your guests are it’s probably worthwhile having another puff pastry sheet on hand just in case (we had 2 between 5 of us AKA greedy).


Laughably easy fish pie

February 3, 2011

My sister Fiona has been going on and on about her spectacular fish pie for as long as I can remember. It’s a winter meal apparently so it wasn’t on the cards until winter kicked in. Well Missy it’s February now and still no fish pie…..what’s going on! On my recent quest for Freezer Friendly meals I decided to live on the edge and make my very own fish pies. It can’t be that hard to make! So with a little bit of online research I got the general idea and gave it a bash. The pie has now been sampled and given the big thumbs up from Eilidh (the recipient of all the freezer meals). She actually admitted to having a Harry Met Sally style “moaning” session in her flat while sampling the first one. Go Eilidh!! What will the neighbors thinks….

Ingredients (makes 8 individual pies or one huge one)

2 leeks
200 grams Butter
Salt and Pepper
1 ltr Whole Milk
100 ml cream (optional for mash)
100 gram fresh parmesan finely grated
2 tbsp plain flour
Dijon mustard
Dill
Parsley
300 grams undyed smoked haddock fillet (or similar white fish)
300 grams haddock fillet
300 grams salmon fillet (or trout)
2 kg potatoes (I used Maris Piper)
150 grams of baby frozen peas

Method

Peel and boil potatoes.

Finely slice the leeks and rinse to remove any grit. Saute in a heavy based pan on a low heat with a large knob of butter (50g). Saute until soft and sweet – this is called a fondue.

Make white sauce buy melting 60 grams of butter in a pan. Mix in the flour and slowly add the milk until sauce thickens and all milk has been incorporated. Make sure you stir constantly and honestly add the milk little by little if you don’t you are going to end up with a really lump sauce. Add a heaped spoon of Dijon mustard and finely grated parmesan. Stir in the leeks, frozen peas and some finely chopped parsley and dill (approx small bunch of parsley and 1/2 small bunch of dill). Season well with Salt and Pepper (make sure you taste it). Leave to the side to cool.

Cut the fish into bite size pieces 2 cm cubes, stir through the cooled sauce.

Once the potatoes are cooked, drain well and mash. Stir in the rest of the butter and if the potatoes are floury and a bit dry you can add some milk or cream. Season well with salt and pepper – again make sure you taste it.

I used individual single serve foil containers for freezing but you could use ceramic or pyrex dishes. Put the fish and sauce mix in the bottom and top with mash.

And that is it!

To cook the individual portions pop in the oven at 180 degrees (or 170 in a fan assisted oven) for 35 – 40 minutes – until cooked through. You will need to cook it for a little longer if it is one “mega” pie.

If you do freeze the pie make sure it is fully defrosted before you bake it in the oven – I don’t recommend that you microwave it to defrost.

So Fiona I don’t need you to make me a pie anymore – I can make it myself!! Tee Hee.


Mediterranean vegetable lasagne with ricotta and parmesan

February 2, 2011

Lasagne is one of those fabulous dishes that I don’t think you really need a recipe for or an ingredients list for that matter. You can put almost anything in it. All you need is a tomato based sauce, a cheese based sauce some fresh or dried lasagne and game on! So basically I feel as if there is no need to write this recipe at all. Although I tend to forget that some people actually have never made lasagne or don’t really “wing it” with recipes like I do. So for all you people out there that need a recipe here goes.

Ingredients (serves 8 hungry people)

Tomato sauce

4 tins of peeled tomatoes
6-8 cloves of garlic
1 large red onion
Olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Sugar

Mediterranean Vegetables

1 large aubergine (eggplant)
4 red peppers/capsicum (you could use yellow or orange or a mixture – not green)
3 medium sized courgettes/zucchini
1 butternut squash peeled and diced 1 cm (approx 600 grams prepared weight)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Cheese Sauce

2 tbsp plain flour
50 grams butter
1 ltr whole milk
Dijon mustard
100 grams parmesan finely grated
500 grams ricotta

2 packets of plain lasagne sheets (or equivalent of fresh)

Method

Start off by making your tomato sauce. The rule of thumb is the longer you cook the tomato sauce the taster it will be so I recommend at least an hour.

Peel and finely chop garlic, peel and finely dice red onion. Add to a large heavy based non reactive pan. Add a pinch of salt and a generous glug of olive oil (about 3 tbsp).

Heat on a low-medium heat until soft and sweet. This will take 10-15 mins. Do not brown. If it does start to brown remove from the heat and add a little more oil, this will cool everything down and stop the “burning”.

Add the tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil.

Once boiling reduce to a simmer and simmer for 40 mins – 1hr. Add water if it gets too thick and make sure you stir it regularly.

By this time the tomatoes should have broken down, if not help them along by breaking them up with a wooden spoon and cook for a further 10 – 15 mins. Make sure you taste the sauce at this stage and if it is a little bitter at a teaspoon of sugar.

Season with salt and pepper and leave to the side.

While this is all happening you can get on with preparing the veg. Place a char-grill pan on the stove and heat until blistering hot.

Slice the aubergine and courgettes length wise and drizzle with olive oil.

Char-grill until cooked through (a minute or 2 on each side) remove and place on kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil.

Char-grill the peppers until blackened all over and soft, place in a large bowl and cover to steam then cool so that you can peel them.

Once the peppers are cool enough to handle peel the blackened skin off and remove the seeds, you can keep the “juice” and add it to the sauce if you wish (it has a lovely smokey sweet flavour).

Pumpkin ready for roasting

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Pop the butternut squash into a baking dish – ideally a large one so that there is only one layer. Toss in a little oil and season. Bake in oven until tender and a little golden (about 35 – 35 mins)

Cut the courgettes, aubergine and peppers into bite size pieces (about 1cm strips) and add to the tomato sauce along with the roasted butternut squash. Taste for seasoning and add a little extra virgin olive oil for flavour.

Time now to make the ricotta cheese sauce.

Put the butter into a pan and melt over a low-medium heat, once melted add the flour and stir to make a paste. Cook for a minute or two. Slowly add in the milk, little at a time constantly stirring. Once all the milk is added keep stirring and cook until thickened (coat the back of a spoon).

Remove from the heat and add the grated Parmesan, a large teaspoon of Dijon mustard and season.

Once the sauce has cooled a little fold through the ricotta cheese.

You are now ready to layer up the lasagne.

Add a ladle of the tomato and veg sauce to the dish, spread evenly. Layer the lasagne sheets over this. Top with the cheese sauce (about a ladle) and repeat the process until you have used up the sauces and lasagne sheets or until your lasagne dish is full.

Your last layer should be cheese sauce and a slightly thicker layer. Then sprinkle with parmesan.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 45 min – 1 hour or until cooked through and golden brown.

This can be par cooked sliced and frozen. Serve with a big salad.


Malaysian Chicken curry – so so so delicious thanks Gordon!!

February 2, 2011

Malaysian Chicken Curry

Last Friday was a cook-a-thon. I agreed to cook a batch of freezer friendly meals for one of my friends. Coming up with some options was actually a bit of a challenge as I don’t usually freeze anything! So with a bit of online research and a good rummage through my cook books we decided on 5 different dishes. One of them being this Gordon Ramsay’s Malaysian Chicken curry which I found on the BBC website.

Gordon you are a legend!! What a cracker. Very tasty and pretty easy to make too.

I absolutely can not claim this as my own recipe but am planning on doing a version with Monkfish with a few additions to the curry paste e.g. Galangal so will keep you posted.

Oh and by the way this is a great recipe for all you fresh coriander haters – as you will know most curry pastes include coriander root – this is a coriander free zone!!! Well kind of, it does suggest that you sprinkle fresh coriander on top when you serve but this can be omitted.

Ingredients: (serves 4 – 6)

Curry Paste

3 lemon grass stalks
2 long red chilies (Mr Ramsay suggests a lot more than that but I am a bit of a woose)
5cm piece of fresh ginger
4 shallots (that’s eschalots for you Aussies)
5 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of turmeric
Ground nut oil

Curry

1kg boned chicken thigh
2 onions
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 tbsp brown or palm sugar
400 grams coconut milk
100 grams of chicken stock (I used a chicken stock cube)
2 tbsp light soy
2 tbsp fish sauce
400 grams fresh green beans
Ground nut oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh coriander leaves (optional)

Method

Kick off with making the curry paste. In an ideal world you would use a food processor for this or a blender but you could do it in a mortar and pestle.

Peel any touch outer layers from the lemon grass then slice finely, peel and finely chop the ginger, peel and quarter the shallots, de-seed and finely slice the red chilies, peel and finely chop the garlic. Pop all of this in the food processor with the turmeric. Blend and slowly add a couple of table spoons of nut oil until the paste is well blended and forms a paste. This may take a little bit of time and you will probably have to stop and use a spatula to push the sides of the paste down towards the blades.

Once you have done this prep the other ingredients.

Finely slice the onions, cut the chicken into bite size pieces and season with salt and pepper.

Take a large heavy based pan (like a Le Creuset) and add a couple of table spoons of nut oil. Add in all the curry paste and fry until fragrant (medium heat). Add the onions and cook for 4 – 5 minutes until soft (do not brown). Add in the seasoned chicken and stir to coat in paste.

Add all other ingredients apart from the green beans and the coriander leaves.

Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 – 40 mins until chicken is tender. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface (I had tons of fat to skim off – just depends on how fatty your chicken is)

Add the beans and cook for a further 5 mins or so until tender then you are done.

Is that easy or what!

Serve with rice. You could add lots of other veg too, it would be pretty nice with butternut squash, maybe some broccoli or some mange tout (snow peas).

I am really looking forward to doing my own version with fish. YUM!!!!


12 out of 10 Moroccan Lamb Tagine with chickpeas

February 2, 2011

Meltingly tender lamb with a sweet, sour and spicy sauce. Another freezer friendly meal for my friend which was rated a 12 out of 10 by her a couple of days ago! This is a dish inspired by Gordon Ramsay. I have found a whole new level of respect for him since I made this and his Malaysian Chicken curry. There was some “artistic license” with this recipe mind you, however the general gist is from Mr Ramsay’s recipe on the Channel 4 website. Lamb is a bit of an acquired taste so you could substitute it with beef (or chicken I suppose).

Ingredients (serves 4- 6)

900g boned lamb shoulder (or beef)
2 tbsp plain flour
Sea salt and black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion or 2 medium onions
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp fresh ginger
1½ tbsp ras el hanout
1½ tbsp tomato purée
Approx 800ml chicken stock
100g dried apricots
1½ “quick” preserved lemon (you will need 3 tbsp of salt and 1 1/2 lemons)
lemon juice
2 tbsp runny honey
2 tins of chickpeas
4 carrots

Method

Quick Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons are really easy to make but they take a few weeks to mature so when I decided to make this dish I thought I would just buy some. Emmmm….easier said than done! Obviously Scotland doesn’t have a massive preserved lemon demand – I couldn’t find them anywhere. The only thing to do was to “google” it. And voila a quick preserved lemon recipe. Really quick and really easy so if you are ever cut short without a preserved lemon around you can survive! Phew.

I made just enough for this dish but I suppose you could do as many or as few as you wanted.

Ingredients
1 cup water
2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 lemons, washed and quartered

Combine water and salt in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Add lemons; cook 30 minutes or until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup and lemon rind is tender. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Yep it’s that easy!!

Now that we have that out the way we can get stuck in with the Tagine.

Cut lamb into bite size pieces and dust in seasoned flour.

Take a large heavy based pan (Le Creuset is a winner for this) and add the olive oil. Brown the lamb in batches and leave to the side.

In the same pan saute the onion (finely sliced) for about 5 mins until soft (do not brown) you may need to add a little more oil. Add in crushed garlic, peeled and grated ginger, ras-el-hanout and tomato puree and fry until fragrant (about a minute or two). Add browned lamb and any juices, the stock (enough to cover) and bring to the boil.

As soon as it is boiling reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered with a lid for 1 1/2 hours skimming fat that rises to the surface.

Add in peeled and sliced carrot (I would cut on an angle and about 3 – 4 ml thick), drained and rinsed chickpeas, halved apricots, runny honey, finely chopped preserved lemons with pulp removed and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Simmer for a further 35 – 40 mins until lamb is tender.

Tagine with apricots and preserved lemons added

Taste and adjust seasoning – you may want to add more honey or lemon too.

Again you really could put any veg in this, would be nice with butternut squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas etc. You could also use dates too instead of apricots but be careful not to use too many as they are really sweet. Serve with couscous or rice and I would probably serve it alongside some super fresh crunchy salad like fatoush – lots of mint and lemon.


Wild Bramble Jam, just like Grandma Lindsay used to make.

January 11, 2011

There are bramble bushes everywhere in Scotland. This can be a good thing and a bad thing as they have pretty sharp thorns. Thorns aside and I was very excited to see an abundant crop of juicy berries up by the farm. When I was a little kid my sister and I went to an old railway station with our gran to pick brambles. We must have been there for hours as we picked bucket loads. The spoils were turned into jams, jellies and crumbles. Yum! With this in mind, and the success of my homemade raspberry jam giving me confidence, I decided to “go wild” and make my own bramble jam. Well I must confess this was made quite some time ago , I have been off the air for a while and am catching up (sorry). I do still have some jam left, certainly a good reason to make some fresh scones tomorrow me thinks. It’s supposed to snow again – yep definitely a scone day! Anyway back to the jam – it really is very easy – honestly. If you get a hold of some berries give it a go. Homemade jams are sooooo much better than shop bought ones and you can put almost anything you want in them.

Ingredients

1 kg brambles (blackberries for the non Scots)
1 kg white sugar
1 lemon

Layer the brambles and sugar in a large bowl and add the juice of a lemon. Stir, cover with cling film and put in the fridge over night.

The next day tip into a non reactive pan (I used my Le Creuset). Bring to a simmer, skimming any scum that comes to the surface. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Make sure you stir it relatively often to ensure that it does not stick.

From about 20 mins on you can check to see if the jam has reached setting point. You do this by putting a teaspoon of the jam mixture onto a cold side plate. Pop it in the fridge for a minute then run your finger through the middle of the dollop. The line where you run your finger through should stay and the edges of the jam should wrinkle. If this does not happen keep simmering the jam and check again in another few mins. Keep doing this until setting point is reached.

You can now jar up the jam, ensure that you sterilise the jars and lids before you fill them. Also make sure you fill them when the jam is still hot.

This is all documented in my Raspberry Jam recipe please click on link for info:


Lemon meringue pie – and oldie but a goodie!! This ones for you bro.

January 11, 2011

My brother-in-law is a little bit of a sweet tooth, actually he is a lot of a sweet tooth. His absolute favourite dessert is Lemon meringue pie (LMP as I prefer to call it). He loves it so much that I think he could turn violent if someone threatens to take a piece of “his” pie. It was his birthday last week so I decided to make his day by tackling the LMP. I have made plenty of lemon tarts and brulees and tons of meringues but never actually combined them to make an LMP (shock horror!) With a little bit of pre-pie research I decided to “wing it” and make it up as I went along. My research uncovered an excessive use of lemon curd for the filling – what’s that all about! I do love lemon curd but how much better is a lemon tart? This dessert does have a rather high “faff” factor but it is well worth it.

Ingredients

Pastry: See “Ginger and rhubarb brulee tart” for ingredients and method

Lemon filling:

4 lemons
350 mls cream
6 whole free range eggs
120 grams caster sugar

Meringue:

4 egg whites
280 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar

First things first follow the recipe from the “Ginger creme brulee tart” pastry case (only), bake it blind as per the recipe ensuring that there are no gaps in the pastry (if there are holes or gaps the filling will pour through and it will make a right mess of your oven).

While the pastry case is baking blind you can get the lemon filling prepared. Zest and juice 4 lemons and pop in a non reactive pan with the 120 grams of sugar. Warm through until sugar has dissolved then remove from heat. Heat the cream but do not boil.

Whisk the 6 eggs together until combined (not fluffy) in a large bowl.

Strain the lemon mix through a sieve into the eggs and whisk making sure to squeeze all the liquid out of the pulp/zest. Then add the cream and whisk through.

Drop the oven temp to 140 degrees Celsius once the pastry case has been removed.

Place pastry case (in loose bottom tin) onto a baking sheet and then fill with the lemon mix. Place in the oven and bake for 25 – 30 mins until set but not firm.

Once the lemon filling has set remove it from the oven – remember it will continue to cook in it’s own heat AND it is going back into the oven with the meringue on top so a little wobbly is good.

It is now time to whisk up the egg whites for the meringue. Make sure your bowl is spotlessly clean. It there is a scrap of oil the whites will not whisk properly.

Separate the eggs ensuring that you do not get any of the yolks in the bowl. Use an electric whisk (you can use a hand whisk but prepare to have a burning arm!). Whisk until soft peaks form then slowly add the 280 grams of caster sugar. The meringue mix should be shiny and thick. Once all the sugar has been whisked in fold in the teaspoon of vinegar.

You are now ready to pop this on top of the lemon tart. You don’t need to be delicate here – just get it on with a spatula. You can swoosh it around a bit to make some peaks which will crisp up when cooked.

Pop it in the oven and drop the temp down to 120 degrees.

Cook for a further 20 mins or so until the meringue is firm but not hard.

Let the pie cool in the oven with the door slightly a jar this will stop the meringue cracking up too much.

Voila you now have a delicious tooth rotter of a dessert – a good old LMP!!! It is great warm and cold and will last for a few days in the fridge (if Euan doesn’t eat it all in one go that is!)

Note: if you are feeling lazy you can use shop bought short crust pastry. I wouldn’t use the sweetened one as they are always too sweet and try to use an all butter one if you can.


My trusty chickpea and spinach curry with Tahini yoghurt

October 25, 2010

Chickpea and spinach curry

I must have cooked this curry a thousand times. It’s fab – I suppose it is more like a stew than a curry as it is not very curry-y. It’s one of those “I don’t really have much time but I want something healthy and hearty for dinner” meals. This has been cooked for many of my friends as a last-minute meal and they loved it.

Ingredients (serves 4)

Chickpea curry

2 tins of chickpeas
2 table spoons of cumin powder
2 red onions
6 – 8 cloves of garlic
1 kg ripe tomatoes (ideally roma/egg tomatoes not not essential)
200 grams baby spinach
Salt and pepper

Tahini and Yoghurt sauce

2 tbsp Hulled tahini
1 cup Greek yogurt

Method

Onion and garlic

Finely dice onions and finely chop garlic. Add to heavy based pan with a hearty glug of olive oil and a large pinch of sea salt.

Saute onions and garlic

Saute onions and garlic on a low/medium heat until soft and sweet. Add cumin and cook spice until fragrant making sure that the spice does not burn – this should only take a couple of minutes.

Add diced fresh tomatoes

Dice the tomatoes and add to the pot.

Simmer on a medium heat for 20 – 25 mins until tomatoes have fully broken down and has become “saucy” if you know what I mean. You may need to add a little bit of water if you feel that it is getting too thick.

Add chickpeas

Add drained and rinsed chickpeas and simmer for a further 10 – 15 mins until chickpeas are nice and soft. The tinned ones tend to be a little bit firm.

Add baby spinach

Add the baby spinach and stir through – season with salt and pepper to taste. N.B. You will need quite a bit of salt.

Spinach and chickpea curry

Mix the yogurt with the tahini, you can add a little lemon juice and some seasoning if you wish but you don’t really need to.

Serve chickpea curry with brown rice and tahini and yogurt sauce – I sometimes sprinkle the top with oven roasted unsalted cashews and a drizzle of peppery olive oil.

**** Please note the photo of the curry has plain yoghurt on it not the yoghurt and tahini sauce – I ran out of tahini. It’s really worth making though and just to let you know tahini is packed full of calcium and is really really good for you.