Garlic dough balls (DOUGH! BALLS! Big Balls of Dough! (spot the Miranda joke!) )

I also made these last night to accompany our pasta dish. I love a garlic dough ball!

Makes 10-15 balls

For the dough:

250g of strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon of salt
5g of fast acting yeast (yellow packet)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
200ml of warm water (approx.)

For the filling:

Garlic butter (I tend to buy it ready made, but you can, of course, make your own with butter, garlic and finely chopped parsley.)


In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt and dried yeast.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the olive oil.

Then gradually add in the water, a bit at a time, mixing well, first with a wooden spoon, then with your hands. You may need a bit more than the 200ml, or a bit less.

Gradually everything should come together into a soft dough, neither too stick or too dry.

Once the dough has come together turn out on to a lightly floured work surface.

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes or so, until it is smooth and elastic.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for 45 minutes or so, away from draughts.

After 45 minutes turn the risen dough out on to a lightly floured surface and punch down.

Fold over into a ball and then divide into small balls about the size of a golf ball. (I reckon you’ll probably get 10-15 out of this much dough)

Press a knob of garlic butter into the centre of each ball and then seal the ball around the butter. (wetting the dough on the join with a little bit of milk will help it to stick together and keep a seal so that the butter won’t leak out.)

Place the balls on an oiled baking tray, cover with some lightly oiled cling film and then leave to rise for 40 minutes or so.

Preheat the oven to 200

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until cooked through and golden.

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Farfalle with peas and pancetta (only slightly amended)

I had the lovely Abigail over for dinner and Doctor Who last night and so I decided to do another recipe from the Rick Stein cookbook (I seem to be on a bit of a roll with this one!), however, I also decided to make a couple of additions.

Firstly the recipe assumes that you are going to make your own pasta. I didn’t have the time to do this so I opted for fresh pasta from Sainsbury’s instead, however, they didn’t have farfalle, so I ended up with fusilli instead. I also decided to add some mascarpone and some dried chilli flakes to make the sauce a bit creamier, and to give it a bit of a kick. Finally I used a mix of smoked and unsmoked pancetta, for variety. All in all my changes worked well and the end result was tasty.

Serves 2

Fresh farfalle or fusilli pasta for 2
100g of shallots, finely chopped
30g of butter
200g of pancetta, cubed
500g of frozen petits pois
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme
½ a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
400ml of chicken stock
1 generous tablespoon of mascarpone
70g of Parmiggiano, finely grated
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt to taste (I found this unnecessary as the pancetta is quite salty anyway)

In a large saucepan melt the butter and sweat the chopped shallots, over a medium heat, for 4-5 minutes, until soft.

Add the pancetta and cook for a further 4-5 minutes until coloured and starting to crisp.

Sprinkle over the chilli flakes and stir well to combine. Then add the peas, bay leaf, thyme, stock and mascarpone. Stir well to ensure that everything is combined, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Cook the pasta in boiling water, as per the instructions. Then drain well.

Add the parmiggiano to the pea sauce. Season with black pepper and then stir in the drained pasta. Stir well, sprinkle a little more parmiggiano over the top, and then serve.

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Apple Strudel

I made this on Saturday evening as a dessert to follow up the spatchcocked chicken. It’s also from the Rick Stein Long Weekends cookbook. It’s tasty and easy to do, although I don’t think that the filo pastry sheets I used were large enough, as they weren’t big enough to accommodate all of the apple mixture.

750g of bramley apples, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced
1½ teaspoons of ground cinnamon
Zest of ½ a lemon
1 teaspoons of lemon juice
100g of golden caster sugar
75g of raisins
95g of butter
40g of white breadcrumbs
6 large sheets of filo pastry
1 tablespoon of icing sugar for dusting
Thick vanilla cream, to serve

Mix together the apples, cinnamon, lemon zest and juice, caster sugar and raisins in a bowl.

In a small frying pan melt 20g of the butter and fry the breadcrumbs until golden, then add them to the apple mixture.

Heat the oven to 190.

Line a baking tray with some greasproof paper.

Melt the rest of the butter in a small bowl.

Place a tea towel on the work surface, with the long edge towards you. Place a sheet of filo pastry on top and brush with some of the melted butter. Place another sheet on top and brush that with butter, and so on until all of the pastry sheets are used up.

Pile the filling on top of the filo, leaving a gap of about 3cm all round.

Tuck the ends in and then using the tea towel to help roll the pastry away from you to enclose all of the filling. Place the rolled strudel, seam-side down on the baking tray and brush all over with the rest of the melted butter.

Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until golden.

Allow to cool to room temperature and dust with icing sugar. Slice and serve with cream.



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Dress the board spatchcocked chicken

I had the lovely Phil and Douglas over last night for some dinner and Doctor Who (Day of the Daleks) and I fancied doing this recipe from the Rick Stein ‘Long Weekends’ cookbook. It’s extremely tasty and easy to do, once you get past the rather fiddly business of actually spatchcocking the chicken, and only takes an hour, which for a roast chicken is amazing.

The chicken itself is delicious and the dressing of garlic, chilli, capers and so forth, adds a tasty extra dimension to the dish.

Serves 4

1 medium sized chicken
2 cloves of garlic, grated
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Zest and juice of ½ a lemon
A small handfull of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
½ a teaspoon of chilli flakes
1 tomato, finely chopped
10 pitted green olives, chopped
2 teaspoons of toasted pine nuts
2 teaspoons of raisins
1 tablespoon of chopped capers
½ a teaspoon of dried oregano
½ a teaspoon of salt
12 turns of ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200

Spatchcock the chicken – place the chicken breast side down on a chopping board, and using poultry shears or heavy scissors, cut down either side of the spine and remove it. Turn the board over and press down hard to flatten the chicken.

Place the chicken in a roasting tin and roast for about 45-50 minutes, until the juices run clear.

In a bowl, mix together the grated garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, parsley, chilli, chopped tomato, olives, capers, raisins, pine nuts, oregano, salt and pepper and stir well to combine.

When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the roasting dish and set aside. Pour off any excess fat and then add the mixed contents of the bowl. Place the chicken back in the tin, skin-side up, on top of the mixture, cover with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Carve the chicken and serve, with the contents of the roasting tin spooned over the top.



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Sweet potato and spring onion Börek

On Saturday evening Neil had his friend Martin over and they were going to cook something Moroccan for the three of us and so I decided to make some Turkish börek as a little starter. I’ve made some caramelised leek and feta börek before and, whilst börek are a little fiddly they’re tasty and well worth the effort. So, I flicked through the cookbook Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume by Silvena Rowe to find a different börek recipe to try.

These are a tasty alternative to the ones I’ve done before.

Makes about 9

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
10g of butter
6 spring onions, finely sliced
½ a teaspoon of paprika
½ a teaspoon of onion seeds
6 large sheets of filo pastry
Melted butter for brushing
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 teaspoon of onion seeds

Preheat the oven to 190

Place the sweet potatoes in a saucepan of cold water, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Drain the potatoes and roughly mash – you don’t want them too smooth.

Heat the butter in a saucepan and sauté te spring onions for 1 minute, then add to the warm mashed potates. Stir in the paprika and onion seeds and combine well.

Place a sheet of filo pastry on the work surface and brush with melted butter. Place another sheet of filo on top.

Spoon a third of the potato mixture along the bottom edge of the filo sheets. Roll away from you to form a thin sausage. Tuck in the ends.

Repeat the process with the remaining filo sheets and the rest of the potato mixture.

Arrange the böreks on a baking tray, brush with the beaten egg and then sprinkle with the onion seeds.

Bak in the oven for 15 minutes until golden.

Cut into 1½-2 inch lengths and serve warm.


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So Fish, So Clean (warm new potato and mackerel salad)

Another recipe from Killing Me Soufflé. This one is titled after So Fresh, So Clean by Outkast. I made it on Wednesday morning as a light lunch before going to work. It was ok, although I would cook the potatoes for a little longer than suggested by the recipe and possibly also use a little more horseradish to give it a bit more kick.

Serves 2

350g of new potatoes
100g of crème fraîche
1 teaspoon of either fresh, grated horseradish, or creamed horseradish
Juice of 1 lemon
200g of smoked mackerel fillets, skinned and flaked
85g of watercress
1 tablespoon of flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fill a large saucepan with slightly salted water, add the potatoes and set over a medium-high heat. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes, or until tender.

Ddrain, cut the potatoes in half, and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Mix together the crème fraîche, horseradish and lemon juice in a large bowl and season with pepper.

Add the warm potatoes, mackerel, watercress and parsley and stir well to combine. Serve immediately.


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Return of the Mash (braised beef cheek with celeriac mash)

I made this for myself on Sunday evening. It’s another recipe from Killing Me Soufflé, this time a play on Return of the Mack by Mark Morrison. It’s a delicious, slow cooked recipe pairing beef cheek with a creamy celeriac mash. I was a bit wary of celeriac, as I hate celery, but the flavour was fine – mild and hardly celeryish at all. Boiling the potatoes in milk was a bit of a bugger though as the whole affair was very prone to boiling over – at one point there was more milk on the hob that there was in the pan, so be wary of that.

I actually cooked this dish in my slow cooker, rather than in the oven as per the recipe, however, I’ll detail the normal version here.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 beef cheeks (about 250g each)
3 onions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves (fresh if possible)
3 sprigs of thyme
375ml of red wine
125ml of beef stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the mash:

Juice of 1 lemon
1 celeriac, trimmed and peeled
1 potato, peeled and diced into 2cm pieces
250ml of milk
30g of butter

Preheat the oven to 150.

Heat the oil in a large, flameproof casserole dish. (If you don’t have a flameproof dish then start it off in a large saucepan and then transfer it to a casserole dish before putting in the oven.

Add the beef cheeks and cook them over a high heat, for 4-5 minutes each side, until browned. Then remove from the pan and set aside on a plate.

Reduce the heat to low, add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook for 5-8 minutes, until the onion starts to turn golden.

Return the cheeks, and any juices, to the pan, along with the bay leaves, thyme, red wine and stock. Season well with salt and pepper, then increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.

Cover with a lid and transfer to the oven. Cook for 3½ hours, until the cheeks are tender and falling apart.

For the mash – fill a large bowl with water and the lemon juice. Dice the celeriac into 2cm pieces and place into the lemon water until needed.

When the cheeks are nearly ready place the diced potato and the drained celeriac into a saucepan with the milk and bring to the boil over a medium-high heat. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or so, or until the vegetables are tender.

Once cooked remove from the heat and season well with salt and pepper. Mash the potato, celeriac and milk together and then stir in the butter.

Divide the mash between the serving plates and top each portion with a cheek, spooning over the braising liquid.



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Sexy Bake (Tomato braised sausages with Parmiggiano Polenta)

This is another punning recipe from my new cookbook Killing Me Soufflé. The title of this one is a riff on the Justin Timberlake song Sexyback, although it is a bit of a stretch, as the dish isn’t actually a bake, by any stretch of the imagination. Still tasty though. I cooked it on Tuesday when Figgy came over for dinner and Doctor Who. (Episodes 1-4 of Pertwee classic Invasion of the Dinosaurs, for those who are interested!)

I’ve only cooked polenta once before and so I’m not entirely sure how it’s supposed to come out. I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be a bit thicker than this – still it was tasty, and thickened as it cooled.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1kg of pork sausages
2 onions, sliced
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
125ml of red wine
50ml of balsamic vinegar
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
3 sprigs of thyme
½ a teaspoons of dried chilli flakes
1¼ litres of chicken stocks
170g of polenta
30g of butter
50g of Parmiggiano, finely grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the sausages and cook, turning regularly, for 5 minutes or so, until browned all over. Transfer the sausages to a plate and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions to the pan and cook for 5-8 minutes, until golden. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.

Pour in the wine and vinegar, bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes or so, until reduced by half.

Add the tomatoes, sugar, oregano, thyme, dried chilli, and sausages and season with salt and pepper.

Simmer for 25-30 minutes.

Whilst this is simmering, prepare the polenta. Pour the stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Gradually add the polenta in a steady stream, and stir until incorporated.

Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the polenta thickens, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.

Add the butter and Parmiggiano, season with salt and pepper and stir well until combined.

To serve, spoon the sausages and sauce generously over the hot polenta and sprinkle with chopped parsley.




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Glazed and confused (brown sugar and lime glazed salmon with sticky rice)

I saw my friend Nikki and her, frankly adorable, children yesterday and got my Christmas present from Nikki and her husband Michael (and the kids) – they clearly know me well as part of my present was a lovely cookbook wherein every recipe has a punning title based on a rock/pop song. The book itself is called Killing Me Souffle and this recipe, which caught my eye on my first flick through is called Glazed and Confused.

It’s a delicious recipe, but definitely needs some veg to accompany it as it’s not very filling on its own. I did some roasted Brussell’s sprouts to go with it.

Oh, and cooking sushi rice is a right faff….

Serves 4

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons of fish sauce
100g of brown sugar
Juice of 1 lime (plus lime wedges to serve)
4 salmon fillets
200g of sushi rice
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the rice as per the instructions on the packet. (on the packet I had this involved simmering the rice for 10 minutes and then leaving it to stand, in a saucepan with the lid on, for a further 30 minutes, so it’s not a quick process.)

To make the glaze heat a tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes, until soft. Stir in the soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar and lime juice. Cook for 3 minutes or so, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture becomes syrupy. Season with freshly ground black pepper, set aside and keep warm.

Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Cook the salmon for 2-3  minutes each side, until cooked, but still a little rare in the middle. (I’m not keen on salmon like this so I seared it on both sides in a frying pan and then transferred it to a foil lined dish, poured half of glaze over the top and cooked it in the oven for 15 minutes.)

Serve the salmon on a bed of the sticky rice, covered with a generous amount of the marinade.


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Braised brisket of beef with vegetables (slow cooker recipe)

As well as making the cheese and onion pie on Saturday I also fancied making something for myself for dinner in the slow cooker. I flicked through the little booklet of recipes that came with the slow cooker and settled on this one. It really is very easy to do and the results are certainly tasty. I expect you could easily do it on the hob as well – maybe with a little more liquid and a suitably long cooking time.

This recipe serves 4, so I scaled it down for just me and had enough left over to make a bowl of beef soup with.

25g of butter
1500g brisket joint
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
600ml of beef stock
3-4 sprigs of thyme.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the butter in a large saucepan. Add the meat and cook until browned all over.

Add the onion and carrots to the pan and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

Add the stock and thyme and bring to the boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer to the slow cooker and cook on high, for 3-5 hours, until the meat is tender.

If you want to thicken the stock then mix a teaspoon of cornflour with a teaspoon of cold water, to a smooth paste in a small bowl. Then stir this cornflour paste into the stock and cook for a further couple of minutes.

I served this with mash and steamed black cabbage.



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