Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A British Mum, the Superbowl and Flank Steak Tacos.

After seventeen years in this wonderful country I have to admit I really don't understand the rules of football.  Football to me is of course soccer to you.  I do however quite enjoy the Superbowl - especially the half time show - especially if Paul McCartney is playing Live and Let Die.  Anyway, I try to make an effort for this event and have come to realize that football equals MEAT.  This is where the flank steak comes in.  There's nothing wimpy about these taco's, they're a powerhouse meal.  You can also make fajitas with this -  in fact I made several but they were gobbled up before I could take the photo.  I nearly cried but there's no crying in football. 

1, large flank steak, trimmed of fat as best you can.
2 medium or large onions
3 peppers, red, yellow or golden.
zest and juice of a lime
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Olive oil


Sour cream
Sliced avocado
Fresh cilantro
Grated cheese

Trim the steak.

At least 1/2 hour before you want to cook the steak, whisk together the olive oil, salt and pepper, lime zest and red pepper flakes. 

Pour into a large zip lock bag.  Place the steak into the bag with the marinade. 

Slice the onions and peppers and set aside.

Heat a griddle pan, if you have one, or a large non stick frying pan if not.  Do not put oil on the pan as it will smoke.

When it's really hot, lay the steak down on the pan.  Add the onions and peppers and cook on a high heat. 

I cooked the steak for about 4 minutes a side, it was still pretty pink in the middle. 

Remove the steak to a platter, squeeze lime juice all over it, cover with aluminium foil and allow to rest while the onions and peppers continue cooking.

Heat your taco shells in the oven and get your sides ready.  I served sour cream, chopped tomatoes, grated cheese, avocado, salsa and lots of fresh cilantro.

Slice the meat and pile into the tacos or wraps to make a fajita and watch them disappear.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cauliflower Miso Soup with Crispy Onions and a Calming Moment.

I had good and honorable intentions of a roast beef. My first mistake was attending a birthday party with 25 highly excited and over sugared 10 year olds in a darkened room with a whirling disco ball and strobe lights.  I arrived home to one with a fever, one having a meltdown because she had dropped her phone down the toilet. "We have to go to the mall NOW and get a new one!!!" - dream on....... and the other was having a fit because a sleepover was not on the cards tonight.  Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen, to my world.

 I was feeling fragile.  The thought of wrestling a large demanding cut of meat in and out of the oven was enough to push me over the edge.  Comfort food was needed and in my language that means soup.  Miso soup is supposed to be calming and I had a cauliflower sitting in the fridge begging to be used.  Bingo!

The crispy onions I feel are a must with this soup.  It did work - my blood pressure was nearing normal after my second bowl.

Olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
salt and pepper
fresh parsley
32-40 oz chicken stock (depending on how thick you like your soup)
1 tablespoon white barley miso

In a large Dutch oven or saucepan heat the olive oil and saute on a low heat, the onions, celery, carrots, parsley, salt and pepper for approx 8-10 minutes. 

Add the paprika and the cauliflower and combine thoroughly.

Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, partially cover and cook for approx 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile cook the onions.  Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add the chopped onions.  Sprinkle with onions (which stops them burning) and cook on a low heat for about 20 minutes until golden brown and slightly crispy.

Remove from heat, transfer to a blender and process until smooth.  You will have to do this in batches.

Return the soup to the pan.  Spoon a couple of tablespoons into a small bowl and add the miso.  Stir until dissolved.  Pour back into the soup and heat gently.  Do not boil as this destroys the enzymes in the miso. 

Check seasonings, serve warm with sprinkled herbs and lots of crispy onions.  Peace!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Black Bean Spread, Goat's Cheese, Avocado and Cilantro Quesadillas

What a wonderful invention quesadillas are. I like to think of them as a sort of hybrid crepe/sandwich.  I get very carried away with fillings because the sky's the limit (I've been known to stuff them with nutella and bananas) but honestly, this is my all time favorite combination.  The black bean spread also works beautifully as a dip.  My husband likes these, they taste "meaty" - it must be the black beans.  Why is it that men don't consider it a "proper" meal without meat??!!

Olive oil
1, 14oz can black beans
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
salt and pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic
Juice of a lime

Flour tortillas
1 avocado
fresh cilantro
Goat's cheese

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the onion, saute on a low heat until almost golden.

Add the jalapeno pepper, spices, salt and pepper, garlic and continue cooking for for another few minutes.  

Add the black beans, lime juice and combine.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth paste.

Lay a tortilla flat, spread some of the bean paste over, top with goat's cheese, cilantro and avocado.

Fold over the tortilla and lay it in a hot, non stick pan for a few minutes until it's browned.  Flip it over on the other side and brown.

Cut the quesadilla in half and serve with salsa and sour cream.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Swiss Chard, Caramelized Onions and Pecorino Cheese Quiche

This is SUCH a delicious quiche - I do recommend it. Even my picky eater liked it - I think it was the saltiness from the cheese.  I would have loved to have got a shot of it in its entirety but they descended on it like vultures.  It's a good thing I deftly whisked a slice away for this photo.  I had been toying with the idea of adding mushrooms or crispy pancetta but in the end I decided to be sparing, I'm so glad I did.  Hope you enjoy this.

For the pastry.

1 cup white wholewheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg yolk
2 sticks of unsalted butter, diced and chilled
3/4 - 1 cup of iced water
salt and pepper
Fresh thyme

For the filling.

4 eggs
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
1 bunch Swiss chard, trimmed and chopped
3 onions, sliced
olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
6-8 oz Pecorino cheese
Pinch of nutmeg
black pepper

To make the pastry combine the flours, salt and pepper and fresh thyme in a food processor and pulse approx 10 times. 

Add the butter down the funnel and combine for a few pulses.  With the machine on, add the egg and then the water slowly until the mixture comes together, you may only need 3/4 cup.

Turn the pastry out onto a sheet of plastic wrap.  Shape into a disc, wrap and put into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile pour a good couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter into a pan and heat.  Add the onions and allow to caramelize on a low heat.  This could take up to 20 - 25 minutes.
Be patient!

Wash and chop the Swiss chard and set aside.

When the onions have caramelized add the Swiss chard and combine.

Mix together the eggs, milk, cream, 3/4 of the cheese and nutmeg.  Set aside.

After thirty minutes take the pastry out of the fridge.  Flour a surface on your counter top and roll out the dough.  Lay it into a pie dish, trim the edges.

Transfer the onion mixture into the pie dish and pour over the egg mixture, combine gently. 

Sprinkle over the remainder of the cheese.

Transfer to a baking sheet and place on the middle rack of the oven.

Bake for approx 1 hour until risen and golden the filling is set.

Allow to cool thoroughly (although this didn't happen in my house!)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chicken and Rice Soup to Chase the Colds and Coughs Away!

We knew it was coming and here it is - our first proper winter snow storm of 2012.  We've done well really - but now it's winter's iron grip accompanied with ensuing colds and coughs.  Nevermind Tylenol, chicken soup is this mama's choice of medicine. A hearty squeeze of lemon juice just before serving not only gives a boost of vitamin C, it bolsters up the soup no end.  This makes a HUGE amount so scale back on the ingredients unless you have a large, sick family to feed, alternatively you could always freeze some for future emergencies.  If you don't have or don't like some the of the veggies listed change them to your preference, I have a bit of a penchant for parsnips myself.


A large roast chicken
4 carrots
4 celery sticks
2 leeks
2 onions
olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh rosemary and thyme
40-48oz organic chicken stock
2 cups white basmati rice
baby spinach
Fresh lemon

Cook the rice seperately and set aside.

In the biggest Dutch oven or saucepan you can find, heat the olive oil and saute the onions, carrots, celery, leeks and fresh herbs for approx 10-15 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and turn down to a simmer.
Partially cover and simmer until the veggies are soft but not mushy. This won't take long, 5 - 10 minutes.

Meanwhile cut, tear or pull the meat off the roast chicken.  When the veggies are cooked, remove from the heat and add the chicken, rice and baby spinach which will wilt from the heat and be delicious.

Just before serving check the seasonings and add a big squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of fresh thyme if desired. 

Guaranteed to bring you back from the brink of any nasty cold.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Beef Chili

As the forecast threatens freezing rain I'm turning to winter comfort food.  Stew is all well and good but I do get a tad bored of it, that's when I turn to chili.  Although this is far from a British dish I've given it a go and it didn't stick around - the ultimate test in my house.  I thought it would be more substantial made with chunks of beef rather than chopped meat.  If you have fixed ideas as to the spices you feel are essential in chili  -  stick to them - I just went my merry way.

1 lb of lean stew meat
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 onions (finely chopped)
1 green pepper (finely chopped)
1 jalapeno pepper (seeded and finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoonfuls chili powder
2 teaspoonful cumin
1 teaspoonful ground coriander
1-1 1/2 cups beef stock
1, 24oz can tomatoes
1 tablespoonful tomato puree
2, 15 oz cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
fresh cilantro
sour cream
grated cheddar cheese
fresh chopped tomato

Pat the meat dry and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a Dutch oven and sear the meat until brown.  Remove from the pan, set aside and cover with foil.

Add the chopped onion to the pan and saute for approx 8 - 10 minutes until turning golden.  Add the chopped garlic, green pepper and jalapeno pepper. Saute for another 5 minutes.

Add the spices and stir.  Pour the meat and juices back into the pan, add the broth, beans, tomatoes and paste. 

Combine, bring to the boil and turn down to a simmer.

Place the pot into the oven and cook for 2 1/2 - 3 hours.  Check periodically and give a stir.

Make sure the meat is meltingly tender.

Let the dish rest for 10 minutes or so before serving. 

Serve with cornbread, sour cream, cilantro, chopped tomatoes and grated cheese.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Apple and Almond Cake

I'm happy to be guest posting at http://www.ourkrazzykitchen.com/
Do pop over there to check out my recipe for a this lovely apple almond cake.  Have a great Monday!

Mary x

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Paula Dean to the Rescue - Roast Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches

It was meant to be.  I had a leftover pork tenderloin in the fridge that I was going to use for dinner.  But how? I squeezed lime juice over it, wrapped it up in foil and put it in the oven to heat through.  Then what? BLANK!  I ambled into the sitting room and noticed Paula Dean was on TV.  As much as I like her I'm not a Paula Dean junkie but there she was with a pork tenderloin - making sandwiches.  She mixed a mayo/mustard dressing - yum - then I shot back into the kitchen and frantically started mixing mayo, caramelizing onions and warming up my little bread rolls.  Thank you Paula - I didn't actually see how hers came out - but mine were great.  It just takes a little inspiration sometimes!

1 cooked pork tenderloin

2 onions, finely chopped
olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Couple of teaspoonfuls balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

For the spread.

2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Zest of a lime
Juice of a lime
fresh rosemary

Dinner rolls
Baby spinach

To cook a tenderloin visit http://insideabritishmumskitchen.blogspot.com/2011/07/spiced-grilled-pork-tenderloin-with.html

Chop the onions,  heat the olive oil and butter and slowly saute the onions until golden brown.

Mix all the ingredients of the spread together and set aside.

When the onions are browning nicely, pour the balsamic vinegar into the pan.  Let it bubble and reduce.

When the tenderloin is ready, let it rest for 10 minutes or so.

Slice on the diagonal into thick slices.  Squeeze lime juice over the slices.

To assemble the sandwiches, layer with the onions, the baby spinach, the pork and the spread. 


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Mid Winter Indulgence - Rich Dark Chocolate Truffles

I'm told some people don't like chocolate, sadly I'm not one of them.  Chocolate is the king or queen of comfort foods. 
It stirs deep emotions and has inspired many stories.  In the movie “Chocolat” the mystical heroine, Juliette Binoche, uses chocolate alchemy in her truffles to stir the long dormant desires of neglectful husbands and gently coaxes shy and reticent lovers together.  I can’t promise these truffles will do the same but I can promise they'll melt in your mouth.  These were surprisingly easy to make and the whole process was quite therapeutic - I recommend it.

Chocolate Truffles.

3 cups chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
1, 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 very generous teaspoon vanilla extract

For the coating.

Dark cocoa powder
A pinch of cinnamon
A tiny pinch of cayenne (optional)


Confectioner’s sugar

In a double boiler heat the chocolate, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until melted. 

Place in the fridge for 2 hours to set up.

Place the cocoa powder and spices if using, on one plate and the confectioner’s sugar on another.

Take approximately 1 generous teaspoonful of the truffle mixture and roll into a small ball.

Then roll the truffle in either the cocoa mixture or the confectioner’s sugar and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. 

Leave to set, approx 10 minutes.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Margarita Pizza by a 10 Year Old

This may not be a very fancy pizza but I can tell you it was a delicious one.  I had very little to do with this, my ten year old took the reins and she was off.  The dough, thanks to Ina Garten, is a dream.  It's particularly useful for people like me, who have an irrational fear of anything made with yeast.  This works - beautifully - and you don't have to hang around for hours and hours to wait for it to rise, just 30 minutes.  Honestly, this is a win, win.

As far as topping are concerned, the world's your oyster - Katie went for the traditional and it was magic!


2 jars of your very favorite tomato sauce.
Mozzarella Cheese
Parmesan Cheese
Fresh basil or oregano
Black pepper

Pizza dough, adapted from Ina Garten's "Parties!" Cookbook.
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups of white wholewheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 packets of dried yeast
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoon olive oil
pinch of salt

To make the dough pour the dried yeast into the warm water, honey and olive oil. 

Place 2 cups white wholewheat flour and 1 cup all purpose flour in a mixing bowl with a dough hook and mix together.

Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and mix for a few minutes, add another 1/2 cup of white wholewheat and 1/2 cup of all purpose flour and mix until the dough is elastic, approx 10 minutes. 

Transfer the dough to a well oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel.  Leave to rise for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes halve the dough and roll into two large circles. Place on a large baking pan.  Cover with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

Place the desired toppings onto the pizza and place into the oven for approx 20 minutes.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Twelfth Night Cake or King's Cake.

Twelfth Night is a lovely idea.  It comes from the British Christian calender relating to the end of the twelve days of Christmas. There seems to be slight confusion as to when the twelve days of Christmas do actually start and end.  Some sources say the night of Epiphany, 5th January is Twelfth night and some say the 6th.

Shakespeare's play "Twelfth Night" was written as entertainment for the festivities.  The evening was meant for "merrymaking" - lovely word!  The twelfth night cake was an important part of the party.  A dried pea or bean was put into the cake, whoever received the slice with the pea or bean inside was crowned king or queen for the day, hence the name "King's Cake" as it is sometimes known.

My recipe I'm sure bear's little relation to the original, although I gather it was loaded with dried fruit and probably alcohol - rather like a Christmas cake.  This is good though - as a last minute addition I toasted some pine nuts and tossed them in and they worked a treat.  Hope you enjoy it. 

2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sucanant sugar
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup ground almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of nutmeg
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup golden raisins

For the syrup;

1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 sucanant sugar

For the glaze;

1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar
4-6 tablespoon heavy cream (more if needed to produce a smooth consistancy)
Heat the oven to 350F

Grease and flour a bundt cake mold.

Cream the butter, sugar and zests until really light and creamy.

Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well.

Combine the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

Combine the sour cream, vanilla extract and orange juice.

Add half the flour mixture, gently combine, add the sour cream mixture, gently combine, then add all but 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture.  Combine and don't over mix.

Toss the pine nuts and raisins in the 2 tablespoons of flour.  Stir into the batter.

Pour into the bundt pan and bake for approx 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the syrup.  Combine the sugar and orange juice and heat until the sugar has dissolved.

When the cake is cooked through, remove from the oven leave to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack, place a large plate under the rack and pour the syrup over the top.  Leave to cool thoroughly.

To make the glaze, combine the confectioner's sugar and cream in the bowl of a mixer and beat until smooth and runny.  When the cake is cool, pour the glaze over the top.

Enjoy with a cup of tea.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Roast Chicken with Truffle Butter.

It's true I've posted roast chicken before but this isn't just any old everyday roast chicken - this is absolutely sublime.  It's the truffle butter.  I was skeptical, how could a tablespoon of the stuff make any difference - well it does.  It provides such a depth of flavor and makes the chicken so succulent you'll swear you'll never roast without it.  It wasn't too expensive, about $4.00 for a small tub and there's enough leftover for many chickens to come.  If you haven't already - try it - I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

Roast Chicken with Truffle Butter.
1, 4lb roasting chicken
Salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic (in their skins)
1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
1 generous tablespoons truffle butter (optional, regular unsalted butter will also be delicious)
½ lemon

Heat the oven to 375F

To prepare the chicken, remove the giblets. 

Rub the chicken all over with the truffle butter.   Very gently loosen the skin from the flesh over the breast, place the butter under the skin and spread it, taking care not to tear the skin.

Place the garlic cloves, lemon and rosemary sprig in the cavity.

Tie the legs together with kitchen string.

Sprinkle salt and pepper over the chicken.

Place in a roasting pan and place in the oven.

Roast for approx 1 ½ hours or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and thigh.

Remove the chicken to a platter.  Cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Split Pea Soup and Happy New Year.

Happy New Year to everyone.  I'm told I'm a bit of a  "bar humbug" about New Year's Eve.  While everyone is dancing around in funny hats and strange eyeglasses I prefer to be nestled on the sofa with a good book and the dog snoozing on top of me. However my duties as chauffeur to my teenage girls kept me pretty busy this year. I found myself in need of a bolstering soup.  Pea soup.  I realize that I am not including any ham hocks in this recipe and I also I realize this may be pure unadulterated blasphemy for many people, but I really can't be dealing with ham hocks.  This soup is wonderful - it gets me through New Year's Eve and there's leftover's for lunch on New Year's Day.  Who could ask for a better way to start the year?

Olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 sticks celery, chopped
1 large sprig of rosemary, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper
2 cups split peas
32-40 oz chicken broth (depending on how thick you like your soup)
1 generous tablespoon of red wine vinegar.

In a large Dutch oven or saucepan heat the olive oil and saute the onion, carrots, minced rosemary and celery for approx 8-10 minutes.  

Add the cumin, bay leaf, salt and pepper and stir thoroughly.

Add the split peas, stir well.  

Add the chicken stock, raise the heat and bring to the boil.

Turn down to a simmer and partially cover. Cook on a simmer to 45 minutes - 1 hour or until the split peas are thoroughly cooked through.

Remove from heat and stir in the red wine vinegar.

If you like, you can puree a cup of the soup and pour it back into the pot, it just makes it a touch creamier.

Serve with warm bread and plently of olive oil.