Instant chocolate orange mousse

Last night I had Figgy over for dinner and Sarah-Jane Adventures and so I made Shepherd’s Pie for the three of us. As I’ve blogged about shepherd’s pie before I’ve decided to skip past that and go straight to dessert. This one comes from the fabulous Nigella Lawson book Nigellissima and is surprisingly easy to do for such a delicious result.

The recipe here makes six, however I halved it for just the three of us and that worked perfectly.

150g of dark chocolate, finely chopped
175g of condensed milk
500ml of double cream
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of Triple Sec, Cointreau or other orange liqueur (I used Licor 43 and that worked very nicely)
2 tablespoons of fresh orange juice
Zest of half an orange

Carefully melt the chocolate, either in the microwave or over a saucepan of boiling water. Once completely melted leave to cool slightly.

Pour the condensed milk and 250ml of the double cream into a bowl, add the salt and whisk until only just thickened. When you lift the beaters there should be a trail of cream.

Stir about a third of the whipped cream mixture into the chocolate. Then, in two or three batches fold the chocolate into the remaining whipped cream mixture. Then gently stir in the liqueur and then the orange juice.

When all is evenly mixed, carefully fill six glass ramekins (of about 150ml capacity) to about 6-10mm below the rim.

Put the mousses in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.

Just before serving the mousses whip the remaining cream until thickened but not stiffened and distribute between the mousses.

Sprinkle the orange zest over the top of each mousse and serve.

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White loaf

On Sunday morning I fancied making some bread. I’ve been doing the same recipe quite regularly most Sunday mornings for the last few weeks and I’ve got fairly proficient, if I do say so myself.

It’s a nice simple recipe that makes a 14oz loaf.

Top tip – if you want your loaf to have a crust then pop a little roasting dish or cake tin with about an inch of water in on the shelf below the loaf in the oven.

250g of strong white bread flour
5g of dried, fast-acting yeast
3g of salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil
200ml(ish) of warm water

Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl, make a well in the centre, add the oil and then gradually add in the water, stirring to create a soft dough. I always find it tricky to get the balance right and usually end up making it a bit too wet and then having to add a little more flour. Hey ho – I get there in the end.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or so until smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for an hour in a warm place away from draughts.

After an hour turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and punch down. Fold over and shape into a loaf. Place in an oiled loaf tin and cover with a tea towel and leave for another hour.

Preheat the oven to 200 and then bake the loaf for 25 minutes, until golden.

Turn out of the tin and leave to cool.

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Pizza

After pasta on Friday Alberto and I both decided to go for home made pizza on Saturday evening. I know that I’ve recorded my pizza recipe before but it’s always worth recording, if for no other reason than the fact that it looks good in the picture.

You can top the pizza with whatever you like and I do have a tendency to rather overload it. This one had loads of stuff on – proscuttio, chorizo, cooked turkey breast, bacon lardons, mozzarella, stilton, Parmiggiano, asparagus, red pepper, spinach, red onion and cherry tomatoes, all on a green pesto base.

I always cook my pizza on my fantastic pizza stone and I really recommend getting one – it certainly helps to make the base lovely and crispy.

For the dough:

125g of strong white bread flour
½ a teaspoon of fast acting dried yeast
½ a teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Approximately 100ml of warm water

Pre-heat the oven to 200 and heat the pizza stone for at least half an hour.

Place the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the olive oil. Then gradually mix in the water a bit at a time, whilst mixing together, until a soft dough is formed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly for a couple of minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and set aside to rest for at least 5 minutes.

When the dough is rested and the pizza stone is hot turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and start to stretch it out into a circular or oval shape. It can be a bit tricky to try and keep the base an even thickness all the way through and occasionally a very thin bit or a tear will occur but you can simply pinch it back together. Once the base has started to take shape I always transfer it to the hot pizza stone whilst I do the last bit of shaping.

Top the pizza as you like and cook for 12-14 minutes.

Delicious! I had mine with a little gin and tonic…

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Pasticcio

On Friday evening I fancied cooking a pasta bake for Alberto and I – we do love a pasta bake – and I wanted to do something a bit different so I searched around until I found this. It’s a Greek style pasta bake with a yoghurty cheesy topping. I made a couple of my own changes though, including adding a sliced leek, some chopped mint, some gnocchi and using fussili pasta, rather than the macaroni originally listed in the recipe. It’s a very tasty dish and, as the recipe here serves 4 there was plenty for both Alberto and I to have for lunch the following day.

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large leek, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
500g of lamb mince
1 tablespoon of tomato purée
½ a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
400g can of chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons of dried oregano (I didn’t have any oregano so I used fresh thyme instead)
1 teaspoon of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
350g of fresh fusili pasta
125g of fresh gnocchi
A knob of butter

For the topping
150ml of Greek yogurt
1 medium egg, beaten
80g of mature Cheddar, grated
50g feta, crumbled

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and cook the onion, leek and garlic, stirring, for 5 minutes, until soft.

Increase the heat, add the minced lamb and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until browned. Drain off any excess fat.

Add the tomato purée and cinnamon and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes, then half-fill the tomato can with water and add into the pan.

Add the thyme, mint and season. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

For the topping, mix the yogurt, egg and half the cheddar and feta. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and mix into the meat sauce.

Heat the butter in a small frying pan and fry the gnocchi until golden brown.

Place the pasta and meat sauce into an ovenproof dish. Season.

Top with the fried gnocchi.

Spoon the yogurt topping over the top and and scatter with remaining feta and then the remaining grated cheddar.

Bake for 25 minutes, until golden and bubbling.

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Chicken with cashew nuts

Last night I fancied a bit of something Thai for Alberto and I and so I flicked through my cookbook A Little Taste of Thailand and found this recipe – tasty and easy so I thought I’d give it a go. I used fresh chillies rather than dried ones as they didn’t have any in Sainsbury’s and that seemed to work ok.

Serves 4

1-2 dried long red chillies
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
3 tablespoons of chicken stock
½-1 teaspoons of sugar
4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
4-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500g of chicken thighs, finely sliced
½ a red pepper, cut into strips
½ a carrot, sliced diagonally
1 small red onion, cut into wedges
3 spring onions, cut into 1″ lengths
Ground white pepper, to taste

Mix the fish sauce, oyster sauce, chicken stock and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Take the stems off the dried chillies, cut them into 1cm pieces and discard the seeds.

Heat the oil in a wok over a medium heat and stir-fry the cashews for 2-3 minutes until light brown. Remove from the wok and set aside.

Stir-fry the chillies in the same oil over a medium heat for 1 minute and then remove and set aside.

Heat the same oil again and stir fry the garlic until light brown. Add the chicken pieces and cook over a high heat for 4-5 minutes until golden and cooked through. (If you’re cooking for 4 you may need to cook the garlic and chicken in two batches, as I was only cooking for 2 I was able to do it all at once.)

Add the pepper, carrot and onion to the wok along with the sauce mixture. Still well to combine and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are cooked.

Add the cashews, chillies and spring onions. Toss well, sprinkle with ground white pepper and cook for a further minute.

Serve with boiled rice.

Very tasty and you can make the flavour stronger by using more chillies and white pepper if you wish.

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Sausage whirls with apples, shallots and wasabi mash

Fig was over for dinner and Sarah-jane Adventures on Tuesday evening and the weather was a bit grotty and wet so I decided to cook this recipe that I got from a Sainsbury’s recipe card – it’s basically bangers and mash but that seemed entirely appropriate for such an autumnal evening. It makes a rather tasty dish and I made a couple of little alterations to the recipe which seemed to work nicely. I added a large sliced leek and used an equal amount of vegetable stock and dry cider, which made a larger amount of ‘gravy’ than the original recipe would’ve but extra gravy is no bad thing!

I served it with wasabi mash, roasted asparagus and steamed broccoli and black cabbage.

Serves 3

454g pack of Cumberland (or your preferred pork) sausages
200g of shallots, peeled and halved
1 large leek, sliced
3 Cox apples, cored and cut into wedges
200ml of vegetable stock
200ml of dry cider
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of soft dark brown sugar

For the Mash:

3 large baking potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 generous glug of olive oil
A good squeeze of wasabi paste

Pre-heat the oven to 200.

Untwist the links between the sausages to make one long sausage and squeeze the meat evenly along the entire casing until there are no gaps.

Twist the long sausage in two places to create three even sausages and then cut into three. Curl each sausage into a spiral and fix into place with a cocktail stick.

Put teh sausages, shallots, apples and leek into a large roasting dish. Pour over the stock and cider, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with the sugar.

Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or so until everything has cooked, the sausages are golden and the sugar has caramelised.

Meanwhile make the mash and steam/roast the over vegetables.

Serve the sausage whirls on a bed of apples, leeks and shallots with the juices from the pan poured over the top.

Very tasty.

It’s a good job that it’s a tasty recipe as I went to my friend Phil’s last night for dinner and by coincidence he cooked exactly the same recipe!!

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Caribbean pork stew

I’ve had this recipe, from a Sainsbury’s recipe card, hanging around for ages, meaning to get ’round to cooking it. It uses leftover roast pork and, last night, I did Alberto and I a lovely tasty pork roast and so I had plenty of meat leftover. (The pork roast was delicious by the way – a nice roast pork leg joint, with plenty of crackling, and a tasty rub made of crushed sage, crushed garlic, sea salt and olive oil, which I spread over the meat. I accompanied it with roast potatoes, honey-glazed carrots and parsnips, steamed tenderstem broccoli, cheesy Brussels sprouts and steamed black cabbage. It’s possible that the remains of the rub that I used on the roast pork might’ve affected the taste of this stew slightly but it was still tasty so I don’t care!)

Serves 4 but I scaled it down for just me.

1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 red onions, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons of spicy jerk paste (I used two and a half teaspoons instead – the jerk paste I have is very spicy so I toned it down slightly.)
2 red peppers, de-seeded and sliced.
1 carrot, cut into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
200-300ml of coconut milk
390g carton of chopped tomatoes (the only carton I had in the cupboard was tomatoes with basil and garlic, but I don’t think that it made much difference to the end flavour.)
300g of leftover roast pork, cut into bite-sized pieces
100g of baby leaf spinach
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley leaves

Heat the oil in a wok, add the onion wedges and cook for 5 minutes or so, until softened.

Stir in the jerk paste, peppers and carrots and cook for 10 minutes or so.

Add the coconut milk, chopped tomatoes and roast pork pieces and stir well to combine.

Bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes or so until the liquid reduces a little and thickens. Adjust the jerk paste to taste.

Stir in the spinach and chopped parsley and cook for a minute or so until wilted.

Serve with boiled rice.

Delicious with lovely flavours.

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Creamy chicken, proscuttio and cheese pasta bake

I made this for Alberto and I on Friday evening – it had been a cold, wet day and so something warming, cheesy and creamy was just the right thing.

I cobbled this together out of various ‘pasta bake’ ideas and just sort of made it up as I went along. As it’s been three days since I made it let’s see how accurately I can remember what went into it! :D

Serves 3 (well, it gave us two generous portions for dinner and enough left over for Alberto to take to work for lunch the following day)

5 chicken thigh fillets, sliced
1 large red onion, chopped
1 large leek, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 red pepper, de-seeded and sliced
3 slices of proscuttio, roughly torn
½-1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
300g of fusili pasta
1 ball of mozzarella, drained and thickly sliced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
A knob of butter
2 tablespoons of Parmiggiano Reggiano
300ml of double cream
1 egg yolk
1 small glass of white wine
A handful of basil leaves, torn
2 handfuls of baby leaf spinach
Grated strong cheddar, to taste
Some knobs of Saint Agur, to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 200

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the onion and garlic until softened.

Add the chicken pieces and cook for five minutes or so until golden and cooked though.Stir in the proscuttio and fry until lightly crispy.

Add the leek and slices of pepper and fry for a further 4 minutes or so.

Sprinkle with dried chilli flakes and cook for a further minute, then add the wine, increase the heat and cook for another couple of minutes until the liquid reduced slightly.

Whilst this is cooking mix the egg yolk with the cream.

Pour the cream into the frying pan, stir well to combine with the meat and vegetables and increase the heat and cook until the cream thickens. Add the basil leaves and stir in.

Whilst the cream is thickening, cook the pasta in boiling water until nicely al dente. Drain.

Stir the drained pasta into the creamy sauce, stir well to combine.

Toss in the spinach leaves and stir in until lightly wilted.

Transfer the pasta and cream sauce to a large oven-proof dish.

Place the mozzarella slices on top, dot the knobs of Saint Agur over the dish, sprinkle the Parmiggiano over the top, then the grated cheddar – I like a lot of cheese so I used a fair bit!

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or so until bubbling and golden.

Serve immediately with garlic bread!

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Pork, apple and cider pie

On Wednesday evening I fancied cooking a pie for Alberto and I and I wanted to do new one. I searched around and found a tasty looking recipe which I adapted for dinner and served with wasabi mash, steamed spring greens and roasted asparagus. It’s a really tasty little recipe and the cider and chicken stock combine well to form a thick, rich sauce, flavoured with the chopped sage.

1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium leeks, sliced
500g of pork shoulder, cut into 3-4cm pieces
2 tablespoons of plain flour
175ml of dry cider
175ml of chicken stock
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and sliced
6 large sage leaves, chopped
salt and pepper
375g of ready-made puff pastry

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat, add the onion and leek and cook gently for 8-10 minutes, or until soft but not coloured.

Remove from the pan.

Add a little more oil, increase the heat to medium-high and add the pork.

Brown it well on all sides.

Turn the heat down a little. Return the onion and leek to the pan an sprinkle everything with the flour, stir and cook for one minute.

Gradually add the cider and stock, stirring them in so that the flour is absorbed.

Add the apples and sage.

Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the pork is tender.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a 3mm thickness adn line a 20cm circular pastry dish.

Pre-heat the oven to 200.

Place the cooked filling in the lined pie dish and then roll out more pastry to form a lid.

Place the lid over the pie and press down the edges to seal. Crimp the edges and trim off any excess pastry.

Brush the pastry with a little milk and make a steam hole in the centre.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden-brown.

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Red roasted pork with peppered noodles

I had Phil over for dinner and Doctor Who on Monday evening (we watched the first five episodes of The Reign of Terror – episode 6 and the extras next week!) and decided to cook this lovely recipe from The Spice of Life cook book. It’s a nice, tasty little recipe but it does require a bit of pre-preparation.

1 tablespoon of Thai red curry paste
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
350g of pork fillet
2 nests of medium egg noodles
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 orange pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
½ a courgette, sliced into thin ribbons
½ a teaspoon of ground white pepper
1 small bunch of fresh chives, snipped
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Mix the red curry paste with the soy sauce in a small bowl and spread over the pork fillet. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 200.

Roast the pork in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from the oven, cover and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles in boiling water until al dente. Drain , refresh with cold water and set aside.

Heat the oil in a hot wok over a medium heat and add the garlic, ginger and onion and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.

Add the sliced peppers and the ground white pepper and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, until tender.

Add the courgette ribbons and fry for a further minute. Stir in the chives and chopped coriander.

Add the cooked noodles and mix well.

Divide between the serving dishes.

Slice the cooked pork into 5mm slices and arrange on top of the noodles.

Serve.

Nice – tasty and spicy!

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