Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays to All!

 Wishing everyone a Wonderful Holiday Season!!

With time running short and my lovely English family arriving any day - I'm signing off until January. 

Wishing everyone a most magical and wonderful Holiday Season.

With lots of love

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Delicious Quick Fix Salmon Supper

With the indulgences of the Holiday Season in full swing, in my case an alarming ability to polish off copious amounts of Peppermint Bark, the pendulum has swung to a craving for a heart healthy, slenderizing supper. 

I'm very interested in "healthy food" but only if it's succulently delicious and one feels fully satisfied after the meal.  Otherwise I'm afraid it's back to Peppermint Bark - has anyone tried the Trader Joe's version - it's heavenly. Anyway, this salmon supper is not only easy and quick it was actually enjoyed by 3 out of my 4 children.  The rub gives it a little extra lift and a last minute broil ensures a delicious crust on the outside, still maintaining luscious coral colored meat beneath.  Served with a roasted tomato and spinach sauteed in olive and garlic, you can feel virtuous and boast healthy levels of omega 3's.

Salmon fillets
1/4 cup olive oil
Zest of a lemon
1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

                                     Heat the oven to 375F

In a small bowl combine all ingredients except the salmon.  Stir together to achieve a paste.

Rub the paste over the top of the salmon fillets.

Place the fillets on a foil lined baking tray and place in the oven for approx 10 minutes or until almost cooked through.

Turn on the broiler (in England this means the grill) and broil for a couple of minutes until you have a beautiful golden crust on the top of your salmon.

Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

British High Tea Cauliflower Cheese, a Wonderful Polish Blog Mention and a Winner

There's a lot to pack into this post.  First things first.  This is the only way my mother had a hope of my brother and me eating cauliflower.  We actually LOVED this - far from tasting like boiled cauliflower (ugh) it is a cheesy, creamy delight.   Even my picky eater eats this - she thought it was macaroni cheese! It was a staple growing up and I'm always amused by watching my children and husband devour this.  It's also easy and quick. It's a win - win.

1 large cauliflower - or 2 small ones
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup (heaped) all purpose flour
salt and pepper
3 cups milk
1 cup of heavy cream  (you can just use 4 cups milk - skimmed if you want  - or course it won't be quite as luscious without the cream)
1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard (a little more if you want more of a bite)
Pinch of nutmeg
6 oz of strong British cheddar (all self respecting British women would use cheddar - although I have to confess I had been wiped out and only had Gruyere - so I used that and it was delicious)
1 heaped tablespoon Parmesan
1 heaped tablespoon dried breadcrumbs

Heat the oven to 375F

Put a medium saucepan half filled with water on to boil.

Cut your cauliflower into florets.

Boil them for approx 5 minutes - not quite cooked through.

Drain and place in an oven proof dish.

In a saucepan heat the butter until foaming.

Heat the flour and cream mixture in the microwave until hot.

Add the flour and mustard to the butter and stir.

Add the milk, splash by splash, stirring until thoroughly combine and you have a smooth sauce.

Add the grated cheese, pepper and nutmeg and stir until smooth. 

Pour the sauce over the steamed cauliflower.

Mix together the Parmesan and the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top. 

Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for approx 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is is bubbling and golden and the cauliflower is completely cooked through.

Remove from oven and cook for 5 minutes or so.

I was very excited to  be included in a wonderful Polish blog

They also very kindly made some beautiful artwork to advertise my blog - don't you think it's lovely?!  I just wish my waist was really that size!

I'm happy to annouce the winner of the 5 Ingredient Fix Cookbook

Stephenie of the lovely Greenthyme blog.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pear Cupcakes with Maple Cinnamon Frosting

Truly I was only going to eat ONE of these - that was it, that was my limit.  It seems the older I get the weaker the willpower.  I told myself everyone needs a sweet nibble once in a while and a cupcake is just right, no need to feel too guilty, just a couple of mouthfuls of a delectable little pear cake, topped off with maple cinnamon frosting.  Of course one lead to two - etc, etc.  Be warned these are gobbled up at an alarming rate.

Makes 24 cupcakes
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 ½ cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup sour cream
4 small or 2 large ripe pears, peeled and chopped into small pieces.
A sprinkling of flour

6 tablespoons butter
8 oz cream cheese
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 cups confectioner’s sugar (sifted)

Heat the oven to 350F

Line the cupcake pans with paper liners.

If possible have your ingredients at room temperature.

Cream the butter and sugar until really light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time and scrape down the bowl after each addition.

Add the sour cream and combine thoroughly.

Place the flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda and baking powder together in a bowl. 

Place the chopped pears in another bowl and toss with a sprinkling of flour.

Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and gently combine.  Do not over mix.

Add the pears and fold in gently.

Fill the cupcake liners and bake for approx 20 - 30 minutes.  Start checking after 20 minutes.  The cupcakes are ready when they are risen and golden and bounce back on the top when gently pressed down.

Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a baking rack.  Cool thoroughly before frosting.


It’s important for the butter and cream cheese to be soft otherwise you’ll have lumpy frosting!

Mix the butter and the cream cheese together.  Add the maple syrup, cinnamon and sugar and beat until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes, dust with a sprinkling of cinnamon and enjoy with a cup of tea.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pan Seared Cod with Roasted Winter Vegetables AND A GIVEAWAY - 5 Ingredient Fix Cookbook by Claire Robinson

I thought it was time to do a giveaway for the Holiday's.  5 Ingredient Fix is a super cookbook - full of flavor and fun with delicious and easy recipes that will help make the Holiday's a breeze.
All you have to do is:
1. Sign up as a follower
2. Click on the "Share this on facebook" icon under About me
That's it!

Pan Seared Cod with Roasted Winter Vegetable Puree
This is an easy party piece.  The puree can be made a day or so in advance and the fish cooks very quickly.  It’s also bursting with goodness. 
4 Cod Fillets
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Fresh thyme
1 tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar
2 tablespoons butter

For the puree
1 small butternut squash
2 carrots
2 parsnips
2 sweet potatoes
Approximately 1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh thyme
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Approx ½ cup vegetable stock

Heat the oven to 425F

Peel and chop the vegetables into small chunks.  Place onto a large baking tray. Pour over the olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper and thyme leaves and combine with the vegetables.

Roast for approx 50 minutes until they are thoroughly cooked through. 

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Place vegetables in a blender or food processor with the butter, heavy cream and ¼ cup of vegetable stock.  The aim is to achieve a puree so go slowly with the stock adding more if needed.  You don’t want to end up with a soup!


Pat the fillets dry.

Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the butter and oil in a large sauté pan until hot.  Place the fillets into the pan and sear for 2-3 minutes on each side. Add the balsamic vinegar and spoon the melted butter, oil and vinegar mixture over the fish as it cooks.
If the fillets are not already cooked through, transfer the fish to a baking dish and cook in a 350F oven for a further 5 minutes or so until fish is cooked through.

To serve, spoon the warm vegetable puree onto a plate, top with a fillet of fish and a couple of thyme sprigs.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pear and Ginger Crumble

What a lovely winter combination - pear and ginger is a such a comforting duet, warming and sweet.  Ginger can be tricky - an overload can definitely be too much of a good thing.  I think this just hits the spot with the use of crystalized ginger sprinkled in the topping and ground ginger in with the pears.  I resort to crumbles a great deal of the time - they don't require any skill at all, are a wonderful excuse not to bother to make a pie crust and take no time at all.  Not to mention they're delicious.

For the topping.

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup oats
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
crystalized ginger - 1/2 - 1 tablespoon depending on your taste

For the fruit mixture.

6 ripe pears, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
Juice and zest of a lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Sprinkling of all purpose flour

Heat the oven to 375F

Peel and chop the pears and place in a bowl.  Add the rest of the fruit mixture ingredients except the flour.

Toss together and set aside.

To make the topping, mix the dry ingredients together.

Cut the butter into small pieces and rub into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.

At this point, if the fruit mixture looks very liquidy sprinkle a tablespoon of flour over and mix in.  If it looks quite dry just use a teaspoon. 

Pour the fruit mixture into a pie dish and sprinkle the topping over.

Place the pie dish on a baking dish (to catch an juices that may bubble over) and put in the oven. 

Cook for approx 40 - 50 minutes - or until the top is golden and the juices are bubbling around the edge.

Let the crumble rest for 10 minutes or so and then serve with whipped cream, ice cream or custard.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lemony Lentil Soup

When I start doling out the lentil soup, you know it's winter.  This particular soup however, has a hint of summer. The secret is lemon. The zest and juice freshens it up no end and gives it a nice lift.  Lentils are such a wonderful alternative to meat, delicious, filling and full of protein.  As with all the soups I cook, this is more of a blueprint, sometimes I'll use leeks, another day parsnips or sweet potato, it all depends on whats lurking at the back of the fridge.  Almost any winter veggie will do.  The following list are the ingredients used for this particular brew.

1 onion, finely chopped
2 leeks, finely chopped and very well washed
4 carrots, chopped
1 large sprig of rosemary, minced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
olive oil
zest and juice of a large lemon
 32 oz organic chicken broth
1 cup of lentils

Heat the olive oil in a large pot.

Add the onions, leeks, celery, carrots, lemon zest, rosemary, garlic.  Season with salt and pepper and saute on a low heat for approximately 10 minutes, or until soft.

Add the lentils and stir to combine thoroughly.

Pour in the chicken stock, bring to the boil and turn down to a simmer.

Partially cover and simmer away for at least 45 minutes - or until lentils are soft.

Squeeze in the lemon juice and stir.

If you like the soup really thick, puree a cup of the liquid and pour back into the soup to thicken.

Check the seasonings, serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and a few more chopped herbs.