Wednesday, 19 December 2012

slow cooked lamb pasta (Youvetsi)

Here is something to bring warmth and comfort into all homes before the big feast.  It's a very rich and rewarding meal.

I truly love it, but the real secret is the tender fall-off-the-bone meat which is cooked slowly in a rich tomato sauce.

Also known as Youvetsi, it's a typical Greek dish made traditionally by baking rice pasta.  This version is a simple rendition which my aunt introduced me to using Penne pasta, transforming it into a very tasty pasta dish.

Serves 4

You'll need
  • 8 or 10 lamb chops (or stewing lamb on bone)
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 500g Penne pasta

1) Gently fry the chopped onion in the olive oil
2) Add the meat and brown
3) Add the tinned tomatoes and season with salt and pepper and bay leaves, simmer on low heat for approx 2 hours, adding boiling water to ensure it does not dry out.  Meat should be tender and falling off the bone.
4) In a separate pan, boil the pasta
5) Mix all together and serve immediately.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

easy cranberry sauce

Christmas is all about 'Giving' and 'Eating'.  This year for the first time I made my own home-made cranberry sauce and I will never look back, after all a traditional turkey is not complete without it.

I've said this before and not sure why, but for some reason people are intimidated with things that come in jars.  Chutneys, jams and sauces are some of the easiest things to make and this recipe proves it.

The reason the idea dawned on me was solely down to my husband.  I sent him out to buy some fresh red currants which I was going to use to decorate a cheese board.  He returned with, wait for it.....a frozen packet of cranberries :)

I kept my cool as I realised I hadn't explained myself properly (lesson No.1 learnt) and secondly thought, good work Jimbob.  Instead of leaving these little puppies sit in the freezer for months on end, I decided to put them to good use.

Our annual Christmas dinner with friends is always a great success with everyone taking turns to host.  This year was our turn.  I tend not to get involved in the cooking as it's all down to hubby, his tradition, his mates. However I did contribute this little jar of red heaven and would encourage you to try it too.

It's the quickest, easiest preserve I've ever made, taking 5 minutes, or slightly more if you prefer it less runny and an absolute delight.  Eat that Mr Oliver's 15 minute meals, GF does it in 10.

You'll need:

  • 1 Pkt frozen cranberries
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • juice from 1 orange
  • 150g sugar
  • 1 Tbs port (optional)


1) Place all the ingredients in a pan and bring to boil
2) Simmer for 5 - 10 mins (or till sauce thickens slightly)
3) Pour into jar and let cool, serve with Christmas meal.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

strawberries and cream, Santa style

When my sister sent me a picture of little strawberry Santa's I couldn't resist making them to share with you all.  They are just so adorable and so simple. 

The original recipe, not entirely sure where it came from seemed to be a festive mailer, using cream cheese however I think these work just as well with whipped thick cream and icing sugar.

The next time you're asked to take a plate of eats rounds to friends, why not take a plate of Santa's

You'll need:
  • 1 punnet of strawberries
  • 1 tub of double cream, whipped till thick
  • a handful of linseeds
  • 3 Tbs icing sugar


1) Wash the strawberries and remove the stalks, cutting the bottom of the strawberries so they stand straight.
2) Slice the top half of the strawberry to create the hat.
3) Using a paring knife, remove the inner core of the strawberry
4) Fill the strawberry with cream and using a piping bag pipe the buttons down the front and the tip of the hat.
5) Place two linseeds for the eyes and sprinkle with icing sugar

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Camembert brulee

With only a month to go to Christmas, we're really getting in the spirit and it's all about feasts and delicious treats here. 

Let’s eat and be merry I say!

After all there is plenty of time in January to detox and I'll be bringing you lots of tasty detox recipes to try, but for now and until then it’s all about eating anything and everything, join in the festivities and indulge.

If you're thinking of serving a cheese course with your Christmas meal, then you have to try this neat and impressive little trick.  Introducing, the Camembert brulee!

It's oh so simple and the perfect finale to a great meal and best enjoyed with a glass of port. 

If you have a blow torch its best to torch it in front of your guests, alternatively the grill caramelises the sugar in exactly the same way.  Both warm the cheese leaving it all gooey on the inside with the sweet caramelised sugar on top.  It’s divine and will leave your guests wanting more

You'll need:

1 block of Camembert cheese
2 Tbs of sugar

1) Sprinkle a think layer of sugar on top of the cheese.
2) Using a blow torch, torch the sugar until it starts to melt and caramelises, careful not to take it too far as the sugar burns very quickly.

Alternatively, if you don't have a blow torch, you place the sugared cheese under a grill for a few minutes until the sugar caramelises.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Christmas baklava

Don't you hate it when you click 'publish' instead of 'save'.  Well, here it is a little premature but I think its time to start feeling all Christmassy! 

And what better way to get in the spirit than with this Christmas baklava.  Taking the same old traditional recipe and giving it a bit of sparkle - it's my take on a scrumptious mince pie. 

Made with layers of crispy filo pastry, tangy fruit mince all soaked in syrup and topped with crushed almonds!!!  What more can I say, other than it comes with a warning...this is only for the very sweet tooth. 

Try it with with cream or ice-cream.

Serves 12

You'll need:
  • 1 Pkt filo pastry
  • 200g raw almonds, crushed
  • 5ml cinnamon powder
  • 1 bottle of fruit mince
  • 250g melted butter
for the syrup:
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 50ml honey
  • 115ml lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick

1) Before you start with the baklava, make the syrup so that it can cool.  Mix all ingredients for syrup in a pan and boil on slow heat for 10 minutes and leave to cool.
2) Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.
3) Grease the Pyrex (I prefer to use a glass see through one so you can see when the pastry is cooked)
4) Mix the crushed nuts with cinnamon powder.
5) Cut the filo pastry sheets so they are the size of your dish.
6) Start to layer a sheet of pastry, brush with melted butter then spread some fruit mince over, then another layer of filo, brush with butter and sprinkle some of the nut mixture over.  Continue to layer, alternating between the fruit mince and nut mixture until you have reached your desired amount of layers - I did approx 8 layers in total.
7) Cut the baklava before putting it in the oven.  It can be tricky trying to get the perfect diamond shape, so it may be worth practising on a piece of paper beforehand.  Basically you slice straight vertical parallel lines, and then at an horizontal angle the other lines, to create lots of little diamonds.
8) Bake in oven for approx 30 minutes or until golden.
9) Take the baklava out of the oven and pour over the syrup immediately, its very important for the cooled syrup to be poured over the boiling baklava.
10) Leave to cool and enjoy with a cup of tea and some cream or ice-cream.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

quinoa with fennel roasted veg

Those who know me know I am all about colour.  I can't get enough of it, be it in my wardrobe or on a plate.  I am also all about making things look pretty and nothing pleases me more than a well presented plate of food.

I have recently been inspired by the beautiful colours and photography on LaTartineGourmande

I'm very lucky to have a husband who's ultimate weakness is food, and will eat pretty much whatever I put in front of him (even if it contains only veggies and an earthy grain/seed).  This dish is one of our mid-week staples - a real favourite when detoxing, and with quinoa being the super food of all super foods, it's truly nutritious and need I say, delicious. 

It's high protein properties make this a meal on its own, but it would also be good served as a side to either a roast chicken or baked salmon.

I personally love quinoa or 'keenwa' as its pronounced and ever since our time in Peru can't get enough. 

Serves 4

 You'll need:
  • 1 red onion, sliced into wedges
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped with skin on
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, with skin on
  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 courgette, sliced at an angle
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 5 sweet bell peppers (or 2 regular peppers)
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cup boiling water
  • salt and pepper to taste

1) Put water in a pan and bring to boil.  Add quinoa and boil for approx 15 mins or until it loosens
2) Put all the veggies, chopped up on a baking tray with the olive oil and seasoning and bake in a pre-heated oven of 180 degrees for approx 25-30 minutes.  Keep checking them so they don't burn and shake to turn the veggies around to cook evenly throughout.
3) Serve the veggies on a bed of quinoa and enjoy.

Monday, 12 November 2012

banana loaf

This banana loaf is the ultimate cure for a wet, windy Monday morning.  Comforting, easy and a great friend of a well deserved cuppa.

This recipe is a real classic, deep from within the roots of a little village in Swaziland.
Using simply a bowl and wooden spoon, no electric mixer necessary (but feel free to use one if you prefer), it comes out light and fluffy either way.  Simple!

You'll need
  • 150g margarine
  • 160g sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 bananas (peeled and mashed)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla essence
  • 275g flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 100g walnuts (optional - I leave them out)
  • 2 Tbs milk


1) Cream the margarine and sugar in a bowl till creamy.  I simply used a wooden spoon.
2) Add the eggs, one at a time.
3) Stir in banana puree with vanilla essence.
4) Mix in the flour, baking powder, salt and fold into the creamed mixture together with the milk.
5) Turn into a loaf tin and bake for 1 1/2 hours in pre-heated oven of 180 degrees