Lemon and poppy seed drizzle mug cake

On Tuesday, for dessert for Fig and I, I decided to make some more mug cakes. I opted for the lemon drizzle this time (only with very little drizzle!) rather than the chocolate brownie. The cakes came out well, although they are quite large and thus rather filling.

Per cake:

2 tablespoons of soft butter
1 medium egg
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
½ a teaspoon of lemon extract
3 tablespoons of caster sugar
4 tablespoons of self-raising flour
1 teaspoon of poppy seeds
Pinch of salt

Lemon icing to decorate

Place the butter in a mug and microwave for 10-20 seconds, until melted.

Add the egg, lemon juice and lemon extract and beat with a fork until combined.

Pour in the sugar, flour, poppy seeds and salt and beat well until smooth.

Cook in the microwave for:

2 minutes (600W)
1 minute 45 seconds (800W)
1 minute 30 seconds (1000W)

(If you want to eat the cake out of the mug then this is fine. If you’d prefer to turn the cake out then mix it in a different mug from the one you intend to cook in and line the cooking mug with cling film before cooking.)

Decorate with a lemon-flavoured water icing.

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Ras el Hanout chicken wraps

Last night I had the lovely Fig over for dinner and Doctor Who, as Tuesday tradition demands. (The Tom Baker story The Sun Makers, in case you’re interested.) I wanted to cook a new recipe from the new cook book that Alberto bought me for my birthday. Unfortunately, most of the recipes I really liked the look of all took 2-3 hours! I spotted this one which didn’t take quite so long, however, it did require a bit of marinating so you do need to prepare a bit.

Serves 4

2 heaped tablespoons of ras el hanout (or to taste – depending upon how spicy you like things)
Olive oil
4 large skinless chicken breasts
Sea salt
4-6 flour tortilla wraps
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
Pomegranate molasses (I couldn’t find this anyway, so I mixed together some pomegranate juice and normal golden syrup)
Rocket leaves and pomegranate seeds to garnish

For the yoghurt sauce
1 small bunch of mint leaves, finely chopped
400g og Greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons of sumac
Freshly ground black pepper

Mix the ras el hanout with about 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl to create a paste.

Smear this over the chicken breasts, ensure that they are well coated. Season with a pinch of sea salt and cover with cling film and marinate in the fridge for a few hours.

Make the yoghurt sauce – put the mint in a bowl, add the yoghurt, sumac and salt and black pepper and mix well until the sumac and mint are evenly incorporated.

At this point the recipe says to fry the chicken for about 8-10 minutes each side, however, I pre-heated the oven, drizzled the chicken breasts with olive oil and roasted them in the over (at 200) for 20 minutes. That seemed to work rather well.

Place the cooked chicken on a chopping board and allow to relax for a couple of minutes. Then slice the chicken into strips and place in the centre of each tortilla wrap, along with some of the onion slices. Top with a dollop of the yoghurt sauce and garnish with rocket leaves, pomegranate seeds and a drizzling of ‘pomegranate molasses’.

Very tasty! And rather more filling than I was expecting. I served it with a nice rocket, avocado and feta salad.

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Lamb, butternut squash, prune and tamarind tagine

On Wednesday I made this lovely new recipe from the Persiana cook book that Alberto got me for my birthday. It’s tasty and full of different flavours. Easy to do but it takes some time.

Serves 6

Vegetable oil
2 onions, roughly diced
600-800g of lamb shoulder or neck, diced
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of turmeric
Sea salt
2 tablespoons of tamarind paste
2 tablespoons of honey
1 small butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and diced
2 generous handfuls of pitted prunes

Pre-heat the oven to 200

Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat and add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.

Add the onions and sauté until they start to brown slightly.

Add the lamb to the pan and brown the meat, stirring all the time.

Add the spices to the pan along with a generous grind of sea salt and stir well to ensure that the meat is thoroughly coated. The stir in the tamarind paste and honey.

Pour in just enough water to cover the meat and bring to the boil.

Once boiled you can either turn the heat down and continue cooking on the hob or, if you have a tagine, transfer the contents of the saucepan to the tagine, place the lid on and cook in the oven for an hour to an hour and a half. Check it occasionally and add more water if required.

After the cooking time has elapsed add the chunks of butternut squash to the tagine and stir in so that they are well mixed with meat and covered with the liquid. You may need to top up the liquid a little. Place back in the oven for another half an hour.

Add the prunes and cook for up to a further half an hour, until the meat is thoroughly cooked and the squash is tender.

Serve with buttery cous-cous and garlic flatbread.

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Chocolate brownie mug cake

To follow the stuffed aubergines on Tuesday I turned to another birthday present – the book Mug Cakes by Mima Sinclair which I got from my niece and nephews for my birthday. It’s a cunning scheme whereby you make individual cakes in mugs or teacups, using a few spoonfuls of ingredients and a microwave. Fun. I toyed between this recipe and a lemon and poppy seed drizzle, but opted for this one in the end.

Serves 1

2 tablespoons of soft butter
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
1 tablespoon of light soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
1 medium egg yolk
½ teaspoon of vanilla essence
4 tablespoons of self-raising flour
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of chocolate chips

Place the butter in a 250ml mug and microwave for 10-20 seconds until melted

Add the caster sugar, brown sugar and cocoa powder. Beat with a fork until thoroughly combined.

Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat together, then add the flour, salt and beat again until thoroughly combined and smooth.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Cook in the microwave for 30 seconds. (It says 50 seconds for a 600w oven, 30 seconds for a 800w oven and 25 seconds for a 1000w oven. Trouble is, my oven is a 750w, just to be difficult!)

Scatter the remaining chocolate chips over the top and microwave for another 30 seconds.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes or so and then serve.

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Stuffed aubergines with lamb, onion and tomatoes – Karniyarik

Monday was my birthday and one of my presents from Alberto was another excellent new cook book. This one, Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour is a wonderful collection of recipes from the Middle East ‘and beyond’! And is full of lovely stuff.

On Tuesday we had Phil over for dinner (Fig was away at a conference and so normal Tuesday Whoery was suspended.) and so I wanted to pick a recipe from my new book. In the end I chose this one which looked delicious but easy to do. It came out rather well – a definite hit and one I shall certainly be cooking again. I served it with a light rocket and feta salad and some garlic flatbread.

Serves 6 (allegedly!)

Vegetable oil

3 large aubergines, halved lengthways without removing the stalks

2 large onions, roughly diced

500g of minced lamb

4 large tomatoes, diced

20g of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 Turkish long green peppers or 1 large green pepper (Needless to say, Sainsbury’s didn’t have any Turkish peppers so I opted for a large green one)

Preheat a frying pan over a medium heat and add the vegetable oil. Fry the aubergines, cut side down, for 8-10 minutes, ensure that they don’t blacken.

Then turn them over and fry for a further 8 or so minutes.

Once cooked pop them on a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil.

Increase the heat a little and fry the onions in the same oil until they begin to brown, then add the lamb and cook, stirring to prevent the meat from stewing.

Once the meat has browned, add 3 of the 4 diced tomatoes and parsley and a generous seasoning of sea salt and pepper, given the meat a final stir and take the pan off the heat.

Preheat the oven to 180.

Lay the aubergines in a large oven-proof dish. Using a knife and spoon, slash the cut side of the fried aubergines without cutting all the way through. Leave about 1cm around edges. Use the spoon to press down and create a cavity in the centre of each aubergine half.

Divide the stuffing mixture between the aubergine halves – pile it high and pat it down with a spoon.

Top each half with the remaining diced tomato and the pepper strips and place in the ovenproof dish.

Scatter each aubergine half with a little cold water to keep them moist in the oven, then bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the pepper is slightly blackened around the edges. Serve immediately.

Very tasty indeed!!

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Lamb and leek pie

Last Tuesday I had Fig over for dinner and Doctor Who (we watched the 6-part Hartnell spectacular The Chase – bye bye Ian and Barbara! :( ) and, as Alberto was around too, I decided to cook a pie for the three of us. Well, it was National Pie Week! This is a recipe of my own devising and this was its trial run so some of the measurements might be a bit approximate but it worked out ok.

375g of puff pastry
3 tablespoons of olive oil
650g of lamb shoulder, trimmed and diced
2 leeks, sliced
2 red onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
150g peas
400ml of lamb stock
2 tablespoons of tomato pureé
1 tablespoon of plain flour
Leaves from 5-6 sprigs of thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and gently fry the onion and garlic until softened.

Increase the heat, add the diced lamb and cook until evenly browned.

Reduce the heat a little, add the leeks and cook for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften.

Stir in the thyme leaves and then sprinkle over the flour. Cook for a few seconds until the flour is well incorporated and the juices have started to thicken.

Add the tomato pureé and stir well until the meat is coated.

Add the lamb stock and peas, season well with salt and pepper and bring to the boil.

Once boiled turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid sticking, until the meat is cooked and the stock has thickened. (Add a little more flour if necessary.)

Whilst the filling is cooking, roll out half of the pastry and line a ceramic pastry dish.

Once the filling is ready, with sauce nicely thickened, fill the lined pastry dish, then roll out the remaining pastry to form a lid, trimming off any excess pastry and crimping the edge with a fork to seal it.

Make a couple of steam holes in the lid, brush with beaten egg and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is cooked through and golden.

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Mackerel, chips and egg

It’s been a while since I updated this – what with birthdays, visits to Devon, a cold and some general hecticness the last two weeks seem to have flown by.

Anyway, on Monday of last week I cooked this little dish. It’s a variation on a Spanish recipe that I blogged about some time ago

https://cookingwithneil.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/receta-de-bacalao-dorado-a-mi-manera/

that our friend Miguel had passed on to me. The original recipe uses mackerel, however, that ended up being a little bland and so I’ve made a couple of changes…

Serves 1

2 skinless and boneless mackerel fillets, chopped into bite-sized chunks
1½ medium-sized baking potatoes, peeled, sliced and cut into thin, french-fry-style batons
3-4 large spring onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
4-5 cherry tomatoes
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
Olive oil and vegetable oil for frying
1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 200.

Cut the potatoes into thin slices and then cut the slices into thin chips.

Place the chips in a bowl of cold water for 15-20 minutes, until the starch is washed off. This prevents the chips from clumping together when you fry them.

Once they have soaked drain the chips and dry them on kitchen paper.

Chop the garlic, mackerel and spring onions.

In a small frying pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and gently fry the onions and garlic. After a minute or so add the mackerel pieces and tomatoes and fry with the onions and garlic until the fish is cooked through.

Season with salt and pepper and then add the chilli flakes, stir well to combine and cook for a further minute.

Meanwhile heat 5mm of vegetable oil in a medium sized frying pan.

Carefully place the dried chips in the hot oil and fry, stirring well to ensure that the chips don’t clump, until they are golden brown.

When the fish pieces, onion, tomatoes and garlic are cooked remove from the hot oil with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. After they have rested for a minute or so, drain off most of the expelled liquid, retaining only a little to keep the mixture a little moist.

When the chips are cooked remove them from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and add to the bowl with the mackerel and onions.

Use a pair of salad tongs to mix the chips, mackerel and onions until they are well mixed.

Season well with salt and black pepper to taste. Transfer to a steep-sided oven proof dish. Make a depression in the centre and crack an egg in the depression.

Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the top, along with some freshly-ground black pepper, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or so until the egg is set. If you time it right the yolk should still be slightly runny.

Delicious – even better than the original cod version!

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Individual shepherd’s pie

Last night Alberto was out for dinner and so I decided to use one of my individual pie dishes to make a little, one person Shepherd’s pie. I’m not planning on blogging the whole recipe – it’s basically this one:

https://cookingwithneil.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/shepherds-pie/

scaled down for just one. I’m only really writing about it now as it’s so cute in its little tin!

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Goulash Tirolese

I had the day off yesterday and so was able to go for a recipe that took slightly longer than normal. I love a bit of goulash and have blogged about it before –

https://cookingwithneil.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/goulash-with-fried-gnocchi/

and so was interested by this recipe that I found in the Radio Times last week. It’s an interesting variation on goulash, with no tomato, no lemon peel or bay leaves, but still plenty of paprika. (I’d avoid my mistake of chucking half a jar of paprika all over the kitchen floor, if I were you!)

Alberto said that he preferred this recipe to the normal goulash, so it seems like this was a hit! :D

The recipe claims to be Italian, rather than Hungarian, and influenced by Austria – regardless of where it comes from, it’s tasty!

Serves 4

3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
100g of pancetta, cubed
Approximately a litre of vegetable stock
1kg of braising steak, diced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon of paprika (I also added ½ a teaspoon of smoked paprika, for extra flavour)
2 sprigs of thyme (I stripped the leaves from the sprigs and stirred them in.)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sweat the onions on a medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly

Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.

Add the pancetta to the pan and cook on a medium heat until coloured then remove from the pan and set aside. (It’s difficult to avoid the temptation of snacking on these lovely little cubes whilst they’re sitting there, just doing nothing. Best to set ‘em aside somewhere out of sight!)

Return the onions to the pan, add about 3 tablespoons of stock and cook for about a minute until the liquid has evaporated.

Add the beef, increase the heat and brown the meat all over.

Add 100ml of stock, reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook gently for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After 30 minutes, add another 100ml of stock and continue to cook for a further 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.

Stir in the garlic, cumin, paprika, thyme and the pancetta. Add another 400ml of stock, cover and cook on a low heat for a further hour, stirring often and adding more stock as required.

Serve with crispy, fried gnocchi and garlic bread. Delicious!

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Pork, leek, chorizo and cider pies

On Saturday Vanessa and I met up with our friends William and Craig at a cafe in town and William ordered an individual pie that came in a lovely individual white and blue pie tin. I immediately decided that I needed a couple of those pie tins! Bert’s Kitchenware was able to oblige – a snip at £2.99 each, although I found out the following day that Lakeland had them on special offer for £1.50 each! Hey ho!

Anyway, all of that preceding waffle is simply to explain why I made a couple of individual pies for Fig and I this evening. I made up the recipe as I went along so some of the measurements are a bit hit and miss, but it seemed to work.

Makes 2 pies

Olive oil
3 pork shoulder steaks, trimmed and diced
2 leeks, sliced
60g of chorizo, sliced or roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
¼ of a red pepper, de-seeded and diced
300ml of medium-dry cider
1 tablespoon of plain flour
Leaves from 4-6 sprigs of thyme
1 teaspoon of mixed herbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Puff pastry

Pre-heat the oven to 200.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and brown the pork dice.

Once browned add the sliced leek and garlic and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, until slightly softened. Add the chorizo and fry until lightly crisp. Then add the diced red pepper, herbs, salt and pepper and cook for another minute. Sprinkle over the flour and stir in, then cook for a further minute.

Gently add the cider and stir to mix well. Cook for 5-10 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Take the meat and sauce off the heat and then divide the mixture between the two pie tins.

Roll out two pastry lids, slightly larger than the tins. Brush the edges of the pie tins with a little milk and fit the lids, trimming off any excess pastry and then crimping the edges with a fork. Make a couple of steam holes in the centre of each lid and then brush each one with a little milk.

Cook in the oven for 25 minutes, until the pastry is risen and golden.

Rather tasty if I do say so myself.

I served these with mash and steamed spring greens.

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