Archive for the 'Winter' Category

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
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


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.


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


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.

American bean chili – Soho style

June 23, 2010

American bean chilli

The last time I was in New York it was February and absolutely freezing!!! With Australia weight clothing I was so cold the whole time. One Baltic afternoon Adam and I found ourselves in the back streets of Soho and stumbled across a small cafe which was absolutely packed. Always a good sign we went inside and got a great “feed”. It was anything but posh and very cheap but fantastic.

We both had a bowl of chili which gave us a warm glow and smile on our faces before we headed back out into the snow.

Ingredients: (serves 4 – 6)

2 red onions
6 cloves of garlic
2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
2 medium size courgettes
1 red pepper (capsicum)
2 tins of peeled tomatoes
2 tins of red kidney beans
Ground cummin
Sweet paprika
Dried oregano
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Tomato puree
Kecap Manis (optional)

Dice onions and finely chop garlic, pop in a heavy based pot and saute until soft and sweet in olive oil with a large pinch of salt.


1 red onion diced
Grated mature cheddar cheese

Onion and garlic sauteed

Finely dice celery and carrots and add to the pot.

Add finely diced carrots and celery

Saute carrots and celery for about 5 mins then add in diced red pepper. Add 3 tablespoons of cummin, 1 tablespoon of oregano and 1 tablespoon of paprika.

Add finely diced red pepper

Add tinned tomatoes and approx 2 tablespoons of tomato puree.

Add tinned tomatoes and tomato puree

Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to low/medium and simmer. Cook until carrots and celery are soft and the tomatoes have broken down into a thick tasty sauce. At this stage add in the kidney beans making sure you have rinsed them well and diced courgettes (in 1 cm cubes).

Add courgettes

Add in about 1 tablespoon of Kecap Manis (optional).

Add Kecap Manis

Cook for a further 10 – 15 mins or until courgettes are tender.

Season to taste and serve with brown rice, topped with diced raw red onion and grated cheese (sounds weird but trust me it tastes GREAT).

You can also add in aubergine which gives the chili a really lovely texture/flavour. Dice the aubergine and add to the pot along with the carrots and celery.

Heart warming Roast Butternut pumpkin and leek soup…..yum!

May 13, 2010

Bowl of roasted pumpkin and leek soup

I have to say pumpkin soup – and I mean good pumpkin soup – is the “feel good” soup equivalent of risotto. No matter what kind of terrible day you have had it will make you feel better.

Pumpkin soup is a stock standard in Australia and can be found pretty much in every decent cafe during the winter months. It is a very popular choice for lunch on a cold day.

As it is apparently spring here this recipe should really be forgotten about until November. However it is still rather on the chilly side, I am being polite about it (its May what the heck is going on!!!!)

So pumpkin soup is well and truly still on the agenda.


1 medium-sized butternut pumpkin (squash) approx 1 kg peeled and diced
1 large leek
1 brown onion
2 medium-sized potatoes
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Vegetable or Chicken stock (2 stock cubes or equivalent in “real” stock if you are being virtuous)
Double cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Peel, seed and dice the pumpkin into 1 cm cubes (approx). Pop into a low flat oven proof dish (ideally ceramic but a baking tray will do). Drizzle with olive oil (approx 2 table spoons), sprinkle with a pinch of salt and grind over black pepper. Toss with your hands so that the pumpkin is evenly coated with the oil.

Pumpkin roasting in oven

Pop in oven for approx 25 – 30 mins (or until pumpkin is soft and a little golden) – keep checking it to make sure it is not burning and toss every 10 mins so that the pumpkin roasts evenly.

Leek and onion sauteed

While the pumpkin is in the oven finely slice the onion. Thoroughly wash the leek to get rid of any dirt/grit and finely slice. Pop onion and leek in a large soup pot (with a heavy base would be good but not absolutely essential). Add a glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Saute over a low to medium heat until soft and sweet (the sharp smell from the onions should have disappeared and your eyes should not be watering anymore).

(By the way I know you are probably thinking “why is she using a frying pan?”, yes I know I haven’t mentioned a frying pan but I didn’t have a large pot – was staying in a holiday house in the middle of nowhere and you have to make do with what you have.)

Peel and dice the potatoes into 1 cm cubes and add to the pot.

Diced potatoes added to sauteed leek and onion

Add roasted pumpkin and stock cubes and add approx 1 1/2 litres of boiling water (or 1 1/2 litres of stock). Should be enough to cover all the veg and a little bit more (you can always add more water if you need).

Roast pumpkin, stock and boiling water being added to the pot

Simmer until all veg is soft – approx 20 – 30 mins.

Pumpkin and leek soup simmering

Use a hand blender (bar mix) and puree the soup or you can do this in a food processor or blender. Be careful if you are using a blender – remove the small vent so that pressure does not build up and when blending cover with a folded tea towel.

** I forgot to do this once and had boiling hot soup flying around the kitchen….amazingly I managed to escape without third degree burns!

Once blended check for seasoning, add salt and pepper if required and more boiling water if it is too thick. If it is too watery put back on the heat and reduce until it is the desired thickness.

Blended roast pumpkin and leek soup

You can at this point add a splash of double cream but it is not essential (I don’t usually do this but the last time I made it I had some cream in the fridge anyway).

I served this soup with grilled cheese on toast with a little scraping of hot English mustard (a little bit of a random choice but it worked!!)

Tip: This soup freezes really well, if you are going to freeze a few portions I would recommend that you leave the cream out though.