Parmesan crusted baked turkey

I rarely think to cook turkey. I don,t know why really as its lower fat than chicken and is really versatile (turkey burgers can be amazing, for example). However, I do think you need to cook it with something tasty as it can be pretty bland on its own (except in Christmas dinners obviously). This recipe is an absolute dream midweek. It tastes lovely and is a dieters dream. I barely used any oil in this (just a drizzle) but even though this dinner is low fat and high protein it really packs a punch in the flavour department.

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For baked turkey you will need:

Turkey breast steaks (1 per person)

1 red onion

1 clove garlic

1 tsp sun dried tomato paste (or sun dried tomatoes)

20g parmesan

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Basil leaves

Preheat your oven to 200°C. Place your turkey on a baking tray and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle your parmesan, sun dried tomato paste, salt and pepper evenly over the turkey. Slice your onion and garlic clove. Pur this in the tray with the turkey and finish by tearing up a couple of basil leaves and adding this to the mix. (As a side note I bought a load of basil last week and this recipe would also work with something like dried chives, or mixed herbs if you have them in instead.)

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Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through.

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I served mine with roast vegetables (no point wasting a hot oven). But this would literally go with most things. I think I will cook turkey a bit more often in future.

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Courgette and pecorino meatballs

Sometimes cohabiting has made me learn far more about myself that I actually realised. One of the things I have learned is when I am determined to do something I eventually do it. So when D admitted to me that he used to regularly eat meatballs from a tin before he had me bossing him about. I was absolutely insistent that freshly made meatballs would blow his mind and I set about proving this, despite never having made a meatball in my life prior to our meeting last year.

These meatballs are the absolute one on days when you’re really hungry. It tastes fantastic and you prepare the meatballs a few hours before cooking them so they are perfect when you know you’re going to have a busy day. In an attempt to increase our vegetable intake I use a potato peeler to make fine pieces of courgette to cook with the spaghetti while it is cooking. If you want to make this recipe gluten free take the breadcrumbs out of the mix as well as one of the eggs and serve with rice.

To make your own meatballs and sauce you will need:

For the meatballs (Makes enough meatballs for 4 very hungry people, or 5 normal people)

750g mince (I used pork and beef mince)

1 slice stale bread

1 small onion (or half a larger one)

2 eggs

1 courgette

Salt and pepper

100g pecorino cheese, grated (Use parmesan or grana padano if you wish)

For the sauce (I froze half of our meatballs so the sauce serves 2-4)

1 small onion

1 clove garlic (add more if you wish)

500g passata

1 small glass red wine

Olive oil

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

Salt and pepper

2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved

1 handful basil leaves

100g buffalo mozzarella

Place your mince in a large mixing bowl. Using a food processor blitz your bread until it forms breadcrumbs, Place this with the mince, pecorino and salt and pepper. Add your courgette, onion  and egg to the food processor and whizz up until the courgette and onion are finely chopped.

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Put the courgette mix into the bowl and use your hands to mix it all together evenly. Roll this mix into the meatballs, just over an inch in diameter and chill for several hours (or overnight). If you don’t want to cook all your meatballs this is the ideal point to freeze some of them.

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When you come to making the sauce; finely chop your onion and crush your garlic. Fry these over a low heat until soft. Add your meatballs and cook until all sides are lightly browned.

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To this add your passata, wine, chilli powder and salt and pepper. Cook over a gentle heat for around 10 minutes.

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Add your cherry tomato halves and cook for another 5 minutes.

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Break your mozzarella into the tomato sauce and top the whole thing with fresh basil. Allow the cheese to thoroughly melt into the tomato sauce and serve with spaghetti.

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Apparently serving meatballs with pasta is actually an Italian American thing rather than an Italian thing? Either ways it’s a comforting meal that we can both get on board with.

Oh and the tinned meatballs? Hopefully a thing of the past.

Blue cheese, spinach and bacon tart

So I have mentioned before that I had to change my cooking habits slightly when I was no longer cooking for just myself. Well sometimes D really surprises me when I need it most (ie. when there is nothing else in the cupboard). So while this recipe was born out of throwing some ingredients onto ready rolled out puff pastry it has become one of our favourite things to eat midweek. (The leftovers have caused D’s boss to eye up his lunch more than once).

DSC_0544To make the tart you will need:

1 pack ready rolled pastry or 1 pack (roll it out to fill your baking tray)

3-4 rashers bacon  (cut into small pieces)

1 large handful green beans (or any other green vegetable)

3 handfuls spinach

3 eggs

Approx 40g blue cheese (if you dislike blue cheese any strong cheese flavour is fine)

10g melted butter

3 eggs (beaten)

15g melted butter

Salt and pepper

 

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Place your sheet of pastry on a baking tray, prick holes in the pastry sheet with a fork and brush the pastry with your melted butter.

DSC_0538Top with your spinach and then sprinkle over the bacon and green beans and crumble over your blue cheese.

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Pour your beaten egg over this then season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden (everything else should have cooked in this time).

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I like to serve this with tomato based salad. This would also make excellent picnic food.

Chicken, roast red pepper and gnocchi soup

This soup recipe is a dream when you’re starving hungry. While the chicken and red peppers offer various nutritional benefits and the chicken stock acts as a bit of a pick me up, the gnocchi provides the filling stodge that we all sometimes crave. In addition, this is an excellent way of using up leftover roast chicken. This perfect sort of food for an unexpected rainy day (well it is grim up North).

To make this soup you will need:

3 handfuls of cooked chicken

2 cloves garlic

An onion

4 red peppers

Chicken stock

Salt and pepper

1 pack gnocchi

1 handful basil

Olive oil

 

Chop your peppers into 1cm pieces (approximately) and crush your garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and roast at 190°C for 15-20 minutes.

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When your pepper is nearly ready, peel and slice your onion and fry on a medium heat with some more olive oil until soft. Shred your chicken into small(ish) pieces and add to the onion, along with the peppers, and chicken stock. Allow to simmer for about 15 minutes.

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Add the gnocchi and the basil and simmer until the gnocchi is cooked and floats to the top o the mixture. Season the soup after cooking according to taste.

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Soupy Thai Green Curry with noodles (slow cooked)

As you are probably aware, soup is probably my ultimate comfort food. When I have had a bad day or I am feeling under the weather I always turn to soup for comfort. As much as I love cake (I discussed getting a tattoo of cake to cement my love of it) it was soup that cured my broken heart last September.

This recipe is another slow cooker recipe and is an adaption of the Malaysian style chicken soup I made in September. This one obviously packs more of a punch in the spice department and the coconut milk adds more of a richness to the mix. They do suggest feeding a cold, right? Anyway, this is a beauty of a recipe for a dark, drizzly evening. You can of course make your own curry paste but I used shop bought.

To make this you will need:

1 medium chicken

1/2 a lemon

Cold water

A thumb sized piece of ginger

2 cloves garlic

2 tbsps Thai green curry paste

An onion

250ml vegetable stock

Butternut squash – 1/2 a smaller squash or the neck of a bigger one

Rice noodles

1 can coconut milk

1 tbsp fish sauce

2 large pak choi or 3 smaller ones

Heat your slow cooker on low. Put your chicken in the slow cooker breast side down. Crush your garlic, peel and slice your ginger and onion, and add to your slow cooker along with your lemon and curry paste. Cover everything with your cold water and heat on low for 6-8 hours.

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Not so pretty at this point, eh?

After your chicken has cooked remove from the liquid and allow to cool slightly. Peel and chop your butternut squash into 1cm cubed pieces. Use a sieve to strain your liquid into a large pan. Add your vegetable stock at this point and heat your butternut squash in the liquid.

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Pick your chicken off the bones and add to the liquid again. Discard any skin and bones. Add your coconut milk and fish sauce to this. If your pan gets too full (like mine did) put some of the soup into another pan.

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Once your butternut squash is tender (after about 10 minutes) add your rice noodles. Once these are cooked slice the bottom off your pak choi to release the leaves. Cook the pak choi in the soup for about 1 minute then serve.

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You should feel your spirits lift and your sinuses clear in no time at all.

Slow cooked pulled pork

From my previous post of slow cooked lamb stew you will know that I am a fan of cooking with a slow cooker. It’s a bit like having a 50s housewife with none of the commitment. You get to come home from work to a nice, home cooked meal but you don’t have to pay for her shoes! (The downside is there is nobody to clean your house for you either, a slow cooker can only do so much!).

Anyway, the people at Appliances Direct part of the Buy It Direct company very kindly offered to send me the small appliance of my choice as long as I reviewed it for them. I got very excited and chose a Crock Pot slow cooker as I have been looking for a bigger slow cooker for months. When browsing the site I was amazed at how good value everything seemed to be. I will definitely be ordering future kitchen appliances from them!

Here is a picture of me with the slow cooker. (They remind me of when you show off your presents for the camera on Christmas morning!)

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The very first thing I made in my lovely new slow cooker was some pulled pork. I wanted to make it before, but my old slow cooker was very small, too small for pork shoulder.

To make the pulled pork you will need:

1.2kg – 1.5kg pork shoulder

1/2 a bottle of barbeque sauce

250ml Coca Cola (not my beloved Diet Coke)

A good pinch of salt

Chilli Flakes

If you prefer brown the pork shoulder before cooking by lightly frying. I personally didn’t (I was running late as usual) and it came out fine. Place your pork shoulder in the slow cooker. Cover with the barbeque sauce, the Coca Cola and the salt and chilli flakes. Switch the slow cooker onto the low heat setting, cover and leave to cook for 6-8 hours.

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I got local, Yorkshire pork specially
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For a while my workmates used to joke that I had become obsessed with Diet Coke, oh how they’ll laugh that I’m cooking using the real thing
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Bye bye pork, it’s time for work!

  After cooking remove the pork from the sauce and gently remove the fat and pull apart the pork and place in a serving tray or bowl.

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You don’t need a sharp knife for this as the meat falls apart

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Keep back the sauce and reduce by cooking on a high heat until the sauce is more sticky and viscous. For all you Coca Cola haters out there – this sauce does not actually taste like Coke, it’s really sticky but savoury.

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Pour the sauce over the meat and serve. Pulled pork is particularly nice in a burrito but Miss S and I loved it just as much with guacamole and salad in a sandwich.

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We both managed to get covered in the sticky barbeque sauce. What a pair!

Blue cheese, walnut and apple salad

This salad is probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but the flavours and textures in this work really well together. It’s very similar to a Waldorf salad but without the heavy dressing. This is quick to make and is lovely when made with crisp, juice apples. Granny Smith, Braeburn and Cripps pink apple would all work well in this recipe.

To make this you will need:

A good handful of lettuce leaves

An apple

30g blue cheese

A handful radishes

A handful of walnuts

Your favourite salad dressing (although I wouldn’t recommend yogurt based dressing)

(Serves 1)

Wash the lettuce. Cut the apple, cheese and radishes into approx. 1cm pieces. Put the lettuce into your salad bowl as a base to the salad. Add the apple, radishes and cheese to the salad. Sprinkle over the walnuts and dress the salad.

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