Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Mexican Style Chopped Salad

This salad was designed to be something which would be easy to knock up out of store cupboard ingredients and the food left in the fridge at the end of a week.  I like a salad for work lunch but salad leaves only last so long and, as winter approaches, it gets more difficult (and out of season) to eat.  The jalapenos make it.  If you can stand the heat, have loads.  They don't half perk up a work lunchbreak!

Mexican salad

Monday, 29 September 2014

Stilton and Spinach 'pesto'

Pesto obviously should not contain, well, any of the ingredients I've included here but I'm currently playing around with pasta and different ways to make it super quick.  I love a bit of Stilton and it occurred to me that Stilton and Walnuts are such a classic combination.  Basil though would be far too much and would overpower the blue cheese flavour so I plumped for spinach.

I liked it, see what you think.  Obviously this is Italian food via the English Midlands!

Stilton pesto

Thursday, 25 September 2014


Pissaladiere is an open onion tart either made with a bread or pastry base.  I've used a puff pastry base to make it simple and super fast to cook.


This makes two small tarts.  I was going to keep one for lunch but liked it too much so ate them both for tea.  Oops.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Paneer Tikka

Paneer tikka is a vegetarian dish where you really don't miss the meat.  In fact, every vegetarian dish I make is 'accidentally' veggie.  I like meat but, where a meal is so good you don't even think about the meat, that's my kind of veggie food.  (You will never see me eating a vegetarian sausage, sorry, what is the point?  I've tried them, they taste like cardboard.)

Paneer tikka

But paneer is fantastic.  It has great texture and absorbs flavours brilliantly.  This is a mildly spiced dish, if you want more heat, add more chilli.

Is it extravagant firing up a barbecue for one?  Well yes but why the hell not?  This is eating like you love yourself after all!  Alternatively heat up the grill but there's something right about celebrating an Indian summer with Indian barbecue food.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Broccoli with Chorizo and Broad Beans

I love broccoli, I know the world doesn't agree with me and it's almost as unloved as my other favourite vegetable, brussel sprouts but for me, broccoli is a flavour packed powerhouse.  The fact it's also good for you is a bit of a bonus.

I was trying to think of a new way to serve broccoli because I had some tenderstem in my fridge which needed eating up.  This was what I came up with.  As a vegetable fan, I ate this on it's own, that's the joy when you're cooking for one, no-one judges you for a plate of vegetables but it might be nice as a less meat heavy tapa or as a side dish to serve with something complementary; fish could be good.

Broccoli and chorizo

We could all do with eating less meat for health and environmental reasons.  A lot of my recent recipes have been vegetarian but this, although containing meat, uses it more as a 'spice' than as a major component.  If you want to reduce your meat consumption without giving it up, that's one way to approach it.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Salmon with Hollandaise sauce

Hollandaise sauce has a fearsome reputation; I'm not going to lie to you, it's easy to get wrong.  It's basically a warm mayonnaise which is unstable if cold and unstable if too hot.  Yeah, this is really loving yourself to make this!

My top tip is to make the salmon and vegetables, put on a warm plate and then make the hollandaise.  To start with I tried to do both at once, I was ravenous having done a 5 mile run, I managed to have it ready before everything else was, in my panic, I put it back on the heat too long and it split.  Oh and I banged my head on the hood.  I'd hate you to think everything always goes perfectly in the ELYLY household!

But once you made it for the second time (after a few expletives), you realise it's easy to whip up (literally) in a few minutes so making it quickly when everything else is ready is the way to go.

Salmon with hollandaise

For salmon, to have it cooked perfectly, never bother with the pack instructions.  I've read that you should cook it for 25 minutes on some retailers packaging!  How dry and unpleasant it would be after that?  It certainly won't be as deliciously soft and tasty as this salmon is.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Individual Clafoutis

Clafoutis is something I have a huge emotional connection with.  The first time I ate Clafoutis, I was 15 and travelling on my own for the first time.  I'd flown to France to see my French pen friend.  What followed was a huge education for me.  I was nervous as hell, unsure of my ability to communicate, quiet, naive and not very worldly.  Paris opened my eyes and I fell in love immediately.

In my mind, the long awkward silences where I had no idea what people were talking about was forgotten replaced with memories of long luxurious dinners, served with wine, which, even though I'd tried I wasn't used to.  Hours of eating and laughing with friends, family, extended family.  I tried to order steak "bien cuit" in restaurants twice, for it to arrive as the chef saw fit (rare to medium rare) and learned to love it even though rare steak was unheard of in my home.  I remember having a connection with a French boy, which may have all been in my head and never went anywhere but made my heart thump and feel dizzy even looking back now.

But I also remember clafoutis.


We had visited my friend's grandparents and she bought us some Clafoutis as a snack.  I didn't know then but it was served in an unusual style, it must have been leftover from the night before as it was cold and sliced into wedges, but for me, that might have been the most delicious thing I had ever tasted.

So this, after a bit of trial is my taste memory of Clafoutis made by my friend's Grandmother.  I have long lost touch with her now.  Writing that made me remember her full name and search for her on Facebook, and, strangely I think I may have found her.  What interesting places making food can lead!  I only hope her English is better than my long forgotten French but I've sent her a message.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Peanut and Sesame Noodles

Am I becoming vegetarian by stealth?  Well no but it doesn't do any harm for all of us to eat less meat.  When vegetarian food tastes this good though, you don't miss it.  This is a delicious vegan dish which is ready in super fast time.  In 15 minutes I'd made it, from scratch, photographed it and was eating.  And oh man it was good.  It was a great combination too, the richness from the peanut butter, went beautifully with the crunchy vegetables.  It just wouldn't work with meat, it would feel too heavy.

If you want a bit more spice, add in some sliced chilli as this is just gently warming.

peanut and sesame noodles

Friday, 5 September 2014

Beef Ragu

I am currently running down my freezer stock because I need to move it in a few days time as I'm getting the paint brush out.  I had the idea for this after defrosting some beef and thinking I wanted to do something different with it than the usual stewed beef in beer.  If it seems odd having chunks of meat with pasta, think of it like a chunkier bolognese.

Don't dismiss slow cookers when cooking for one, almost everything you make in a slow cooker reheats well and this is no exception.  Also you won't get that "I'm bored" feeling because you could eat this as a stew or with pasta, or mix with pinto beans and tabasco for a cheats chilli.  If you do get bored, stick leftovers in the freezer.

Beef ragu

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Thai Style Prawn Soup

Thai Style prawn soup is my go to dish when I'm feeling a bit stodgy, like when you've eaten masses of pasta for days and you feel sluggish and tired by it all.

It might not 'officially' be soup season yet but there is something about Thai soups which are light, tasty and refreshing.  The chilli and lime gives you such zing and energy.  This is a dish to have in the evening after a heavy few days; feel good about life and go to bed feeling happy and healthy.

If you often happen to have home made unsalted fish or chicken stock, I would use that in preference to the water, however, I don't often do so.  Never use stock cubes, they'd be too salty.

Tom Yum Soup