Monday, 27 June 2011

Salmon and Broccoli bake

Steamed salmon and broccoli is my meal of choice if i'm wanting something quick and healthy. However, I've been eating it so often lately that i'm beginning to get taste fatigue from it. This recipe from the Good Food magazine, though not exactly classed as healthy, has renewed my enjoyment of the salmon and broccoli combination. It was also given the thumbs up by others.

The sundried tomatoes, broccoli and basil provide a source of vitamin C and fibre and the salmon and anchovies provide good sources of essentially fatty acids. But i wont lie to you it is quite high in fat.  

Regardless, its a delicious and versatile dish which i will defintely be making again.  The sauce is creamy but only lightly coats the ingredients, so doesnt overwhelm the broccoli or salmon, both of which are enhanced by the addition of the sun dried tomatoes, anchovies and basil.

I used creme fraiche to cut down the calories and added chilli and garlic to amp up the flavour. Chicken would probably work quite well here for the meat eaters.

Recipe - Salmon and broccoli bake adapted from Good Food magazine 2003

Serves 4-6 people


    250g penne
    300g broccoli , cut into large florets
    25g butter
    25g plain flour
    600ml milk
    100g mascarpone/creme fraiche
    8 sundried tomatoes (preserved in olive oil), drained and thickly sliced
    2 tbsp small capers (optional) rinsed to remove excess salt   or vinegar
    8 anchovy fillets, halved (optional)
    10 large fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
    4 fresh skinless salmon fillets
    50g mature cheddar
    Clove of garlic, crushed
    Large pinch of chilli flakes
    Freshly cracked pepper

Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5/fan 170C and get out an ovenproof dish (measuring 20 by 30cm, and about 5cm deep). Meanwhile, put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta. When it is boiling rapidly, tip in the pasta with a generous sprinkling of salt. Give it a stir, return to the boil and cook for 6 minutes. Add the broccoli, then return the water to the boil and cook for 4 minutes more, until the broccoli is on the firm side of just tender. Drain well.
While the pasta is cooking, put the butter, flour and milk in a large pan and heat, whisking or stirring continuously, until it thickens to make a smooth sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the mascarpone or creme fraiche if using, sun-dried tomatoes, capers (if using), anchovies (if using, basil, chilli flakes, crushed garlic then add the pasta and broccoli and season well with cracked pepper and salt.
Halve the salmon fillets widthways (you will see that there is an obvious divide on each fillet) then place the pieces in a single layer on the base of the ovenproof dish. Spoon the broccoli mixture on top, then scatter with the grated cheddar. (You can chill this for up to 4 hours if you want to get ahead.)
Bake for 30 minutes until the mixture is just starting to bubble round the edges and the mixture is pale golden - don't let it go too dark or the fish will overcook.


Saturday, 25 June 2011

Chocolate chip and ginger cookies

A good friend of mine describes me as dizzy intelligent person. There have been enough embarrassing situations in my life to realise that she has a point.  Like the time when, on a train to Edinburgh, i thought i'd electronically locked the toilet door only to find as i was sat on the toilet, i hadnt. The shocked look on the elderly mans face as the door slid open to find me sat there will be forever imprinted on my mind.

As well as being abit dizzy at times i can be pretty clumsy. Today whilst setting up to shoot photos of these cookies i managed to knock over a large white foam board on its side, causing the two glasses of milk on the table to topple over. The milk went everywhere and i couldnt use the linens i wanted for the background. I had to do a big clean up and start all over again.

I wish i could say these cookies were worth the effort but unfortunately they werent. Since tasting the best cookie i've ever had in the Cotswolds purchased from a Bens Cookies stall, I've been looking for a cookie recipe which may in some way match. 

The recipe i adapted is one from Joy The Baker for Black and White cookies which had a nice cookie base. I like my cookies soft, almost undercooked and loaded with chocolate chips. These cookies certainly had a soft, almost cake like texture and the adequate amount of chocolate chips. But i made the mistake of adding nutmeg into the mix, giving the cookies an odd flavour. Next time I'll omit the nutmeg, up the ginger and consider adding in some chunks of stemmed ginger.

Recipe - Chocolate chip and ginger cookies (adapted from Black and White Cookie recipe by Joy The Baker)

2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
200g dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a cup. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add eggs, beating until combined well. Mix in flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately in batches at low speed (scraping down side of bowl occasionally), beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until smooth.
Spoon 1/4 cups of batter about 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet. Bake in middle of oven until tops are puffed and pale golden, and cookies spring back when touched, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack and chill (to cool quickly), about 5 minutes.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Food bloggers block and Cherry Cheesecake recipe

Let me start by saying I feel really terrible about the fact that i havent posted on the blog since the beginning of the month.

I think i've developed a bout of food bloggers block. It started afew weeks ago when i became acutely aware of how many talented food bloggers there are out there. People who are coming up with original recipes, interesting posts and beautiful photos. I started to question whether what i was posting was of an adequate standard and the more i thought about it, the more i struggled to find inspiration for something to post about.

But then i remembered that in starting this blog i am developing a new skill and still learning so much from the whole process. I look at how much i have learnt about photography since my first post last month and look forward to seeing how the blog evolves.

I'm so grateful to be receiving the support from those of you who take the time to visit my blog. I've also recently come across some really nice food bloggers including Caroline at Sweet Carolines Cooking, Meredith at Pretty.Good.Food. and Maria at The Goddesses Kitchen whose lovely comments have also helped motivate me to keep going.

In time i hope i can come up with original recipes and photos that i'm happy with. In the mean time here is one of my all time favourite recipes - Cherry Cheesecake. The fact that it is a no bake cheesecake does not at all detract from its deliciousness. People always request the recipe when i make this. Its quick, simple and always turns out well. Just what one needs in times of doubt and wavering faith.

Recipe - Cherry Cheesecake from Nigella Lawsons Nigella Express

This is a no bake cheesecake which requires little more than abit of mixing and sitting in the fridge for 3 hours before serving. I tweaked the recipe alittle bit to make a thicker base. Use the best cherry conserve or jam possible.

  • 250g digestive biscuits
  • 150g soft butter
  • 300g cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 250ml double cream
  • 1 x 284g jar St Dalfour Rhapsodie de Fruit Black Cherry Spread

Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until beginning to turn to crumbs, then add the butter and whiz again to make the mixture clump. Press this mixture into a 20cm springform tin. Beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla extract and lemon juice in a bowl until smooth.

Lightly whip the double cream, and then fold it into the cream cheese mixture. Spoon the cheesecake filling on top of the biscuit base and smooth with a spatula. Put it in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight. When you are ready to serve the cheesecake, unmould it and spread the black cherry over the top.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Weekend breakfast ritual

One of the things i look forward to on the weekends, besides having a lie in, is eating eggs on toast for breakfast. I invariably go for scrambled eggs on toast for easiness but also love eggs fried or poached. This weekend i thought i'd go 'Hole in the Bread Eggs' style, seen on Donal Skehans' blog at:

My work colleague Cara kindly gave me some eggs from her 3 chickens, Eggwina, Camilla and Henrietta who are fed on organic chicken feed and blueberries. Their eggs have a lovely flavour and vividly bright yellow yolks.

Besides being a fun way to serve eggs, this seems to be a less messy way of making them. They are a cross between fried and poached eggs, though avoid these if you dont like or are unable to eat your eggs runny.

When it comes to the eggs on toast breakfast ritual, I always have to have some green tea to go with it and all consumed whilst still in my PJs.

Do you have a favourite breakfast ritual?