Smoked Mackerel Pate

Smoked mackerel pate

I love smoked mackerel, it’s got bags of flavour and livens up lunch time meals for me. You can buy ready made smoked mackerel pate in the supermarket but there’s no need when making your own is so easy. Here I’ve served mine with cracked black pepper Ryvita crispbread which is delicious. Alternatively, the mackerel pate would make an excellent starter served with sourdough toast.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

2 smoked mackerel fillets
2 tablespoons natural yoghurt
2 tablespoons full fat cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
A good squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon chopped chives
4 crispbread crackers such as Ryvita

Method

1. Remove the skin and bones from the mackerel, then in a large bowl mash the mackerel with a fork.

2. Add the yoghurt, cream cheese, lemon juice and chives.

3. Combine all the ingredients together and serve on the crispbread.

Smoked mackerel pate

There you have it, a lovely light lunch or starter that takes only minutes to prepare. I hope you enjoy.

Until next time.

Julie
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Creamy Pesto Pancetta, Peas and Mushrooms with Spirali Pasta

Creamy pesto pancetta pasta

The beauty of this tasty pasta dish is that you can rustle it up in less than 15 minutes. There’s no real preparation to do yet the finished result will not disappoint. The salty pancetta packs a real punch with the creamy pesto sauce, whilst the peas bring a real freshness to the plate.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

200g spirali pasta
100g cubetti di pancetta
150g frozen petit pois
120g mushrooms (chopped in quarter slices)
6 tablespoons double cream
4 tablespoons basil pesto
Black pepper

Method

1. In a large pan of salted boiling water cook the pasta until al dente.

2. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan sauté the pancetta on a medium heat for about 5 minutes, there’s no need for any oil.

3. Just as the pancetta starts to crisp add the peas and mushrooms, give everything a real good stir. Cook on the heat or 5 minutes so the peas and mushrooms are cooked.

4. Add the pesto and double cream to the pan with a grinding of black pepper. Stir everything together and heat through.

5. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, stir through on the heat. Serve immediately.

I like to eat mine with a salad and if you’re really peckish some garlic bread too is lovely.

So if you’re in need of a quick pasta dinner, why not have a go at making this. Do you have a speedy pasta recipe? I would love to hear about it, let me know by leaving your comments in the box below.

Until next time.

Julie
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I’m entering this recipe into the Family Foodies challenge organised by Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash. This month’s challenge Fab Fast Food is hosted by Vanesther from Bangers & Mash.

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Milk Chocolate and Walnut Biscuits

Milk Chocolate and Walnut Biscuits 22012014

These are a sophisticated biscuit, ideally enjoyed with your morning coffee. There’s just enough chocolate to satisfy a chocolate craving and there’s a lovely bit of crunch from the walnuts. Once baked these tempting biscuits won’t stick around for long.

Milk Chocolate and Walnut Biscuits v2 22012014

Ingredients (Makes 14)

225g plain flour
175g unsalted butter (softened)
100g golden caster sugar
100g milk chocolate chips
50g walnuts (chopped)

Method

1. Cream together the butter and sugar together until thoroughly combined.

2. Stir in the flour using a wooden spoon until the mixture becomes a dough. It may seem too dry at first but keep mixing and it will then come together.

3. Add the chocolate chips and walnuts and knead briefly to evenly distribute throughout the dough.

4. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.

5. Divide the biscuit dough into 14 pieces, roll each piece into a ball. Then, place the balls of biscuit dough on the lined baking sheet and flatten until about 1cm thick.

6. Place both the baking sheets in the fridge to allow the uncooked biscuits to firm up, chill for at least 1 hour.

7. Pre heat the oven to Fan 160c.

8. Oven bake the biscuits for about 20 to 25 minutes, the biscuits will be pale gold when cooked. I recommend you take a look at the biscuits after 20 minutes and if you think they need longer pop them back in the oven.

9. Once cooked remove from the oven and leave on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Milk Chocolate and Walnut Biscuits 22012014

Milk Chocolate and Walnut Biscuits v2 22012014

Do you have a favourite biscuit or cookie to bake? I would love to hear about it. Don’t forget you can leave your comments in the box below.

Happy baking.

Julie
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I’ve entered this recipe into the #recipeoftheweek challenge over at A Mummy Too.

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I’ve also entered this recipe into the Tea Time Treats challenge organised by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and Jane at The Hedgecombers. This months chocolate challenge is hosted by Karen.

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Cheddar Cheese and Onion Soda Bread

Cheese and Onion Soda Bread

Oh my, you really must try this recipe it makes the most delicious flavoursome cheese and onion bread. The kitchen smells whilst this bread bakes are heavenly and I assure you, you will love it. Best of all because it is soda bread there’s no laborious kneading or waiting for dough to prove. This recipe was inspired by my lovely mum.

Cheddar Cheese and Onion Soda Bread

Ingredients (Makes 1 loaf)

400g plain white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
300ml buttermilk
150g strong cheddar cheese (grated)
1 medium onion (chopped)
15g unsalted butter

Soda bread ingredients

Method

1. Pre heat your oven to Fan 200c and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

2. Heat the butter in a frying pan until melted, then sauté the onion until it is transparent and very soft. Set aside to cool.

Sautéing the onion

3. Put all the dry ingredients except 50g of cheese in a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon. Then make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk. Mix with the wooden spoon and then bring the dough together with your hands to create a sticky dough.

In the bowl

4. Dust your work surface with flour, put the dough on the floured surface and shape into a flattened ball.

5. Place the dough onto the lined baking sheet and using a sharp knife cut deeply vertically and then horizontally over the dough to form a cross.

6. Sprinkle the remaining 50g of cheese on top.

Ready for baking

7. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, then cover the bread with foil and bake for a further 10 minutes.

8. When fully baked the soda bread should sound hollow when tapped underneath and be beautifully golden brown.

9. Then allow to cool on a wire rack.

Baked soda bread

Cheese and Onion Soda Bread

Soda bread is gorgeous served buttered along with a bowl of warm soup. I have a few soup recipes you may like to try Spicy Carrot Soup, Frugal Soup (butternut squash and carrot) and Roast Butternut Squash Soup.

If you enjoy making soda bread, give my Cheese and Sun Dried Tomato Soda Bread recipe a go.

Do you have a favourite bread recipe? I would love to hear about it. Don’t forget to leave your comments in the box below.

Happy baking.

Julie
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Henry the Hedgehog Cake

Hedgehog Cake

To celebrate the birthday of my cheeky chappy I made a chocolate cake in the guise of another cheeky chappy, Henry the Hedgehog.

To make my chocolate hedgehog cake I followed Rachel Allen’s recipe from her book entitled ‘Cake‘.

Rachel Allen's Cake book

The recipe itself was a very straight forward chocolate sponge which I baked in a large Pyrex bowl. Once baked I let the cake cool down completely before tackling the next stage.

The assembly of the hedgehog shape was also fairly easy, although I was a little doubtful that I was going to manage it at first. Once, I had the right shape it was simply a case of covering the sponge with the chocolate buttercream. This was a bit tricky, as there’s nothing worse than crumbs in the buttercream so I took my time. Next I formed the face, first using a glacé cherry for the nose and then the ends of the biscuits as eyes. To create the hedgehog spikes I carefully pressed chocolate finger biscuits into the body of the cake. Henry the chocolate hedgehog was finished, ready in time for the special birthday.

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday

Would I make this cake again? Yes, I would. Henry’s not perfect but nevertheless, I’m pretty happy with how he turned out and best of all he (I mean the cake) tasted quite delicious too.

Have you made any novelty cakes recently? I’d love to hear about them, let me know by leaving your comments in the box below.

Until next time.

Julie
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Roast Butternut Squash Soup

Roast Butternut Squash Soup

Warming and gently spiced with sweet cinnamon this tasty soup is lovely with wholemeal crusty bread. I’ve topped my soup with a swirl of sour cream making it a little indulgent and simply delicious.

Home made soup tastes so superior to anything you can buy in the shops. Most importantly, it gives you greater control over the level of salt in your soup. If you’re especially concerned I would suggest using a low salt stock cube or make your own stock instead. Home made soup is usually very economical too, another good reason for making it yourself. Plus not forgetting eating a vegetable soup like this one is a great way of increasing your vegetable intake.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

600g butternut squash (peeled weight and cut into 2.5cm cubes)
1 small onion chopped
600ml boiling water
1 Kallo organic chicken stock cube
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
A little sour cream

Method

1. Pre heat the oven to Fan 200c.

2. Put the butternut squash cubes in a large roasting tray, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle over the cinnamon. Toss to ensure the butternut squash is evenly coated. Roast for 25 minutes.

3. Add the chopped onion and roast for a further 10 minutes.

4. Make up the stock with the water and stock cube.

5. Transfer the butternut squash and onion to a blender, then add half the stock, a pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper and blitz.

6. Add the remaining stock and blitz in the blender again. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

7. Reheat if needed and serve with a swirl of sour cream.

Roast Butternut Squash Soup

This soup keeps well in a covered jug in the fridge for a couple of days. Like a lot of soups it does then thicken so just add a splash of boiled water when reheating.

Why not try my Spicy Carrot Soup and my Frugal Soup, both are packed full of flavour and are easy to make too. I hope you enjoy this soup as much as me and do let me know what you think.

Until next time.

Julie
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Chilli Con Carne (never reach for a jar again!)

Chilli con carne

Chilli Con Carne is a meal I’ve eaten and cooked many times, but until recently I always reached for a jar of cooking sauce. In my quest to become a better cook I’ve recently had a go at making my own. I researched which herbs and spices should be used and for this recipe I’ve added that magic ingredient, dark chocolate for richness.

Ingredients (Serves 3)

250g lean mince beef
1/2 tablespoon vegetable or sunflower oil
1 medium onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 tablespoon plain flour
400g tin chopped tomatoes
420g tin kidney beans in chilli sauce (Sainsbury’s stock these)
125ml boiling water
1/4 Kallo organic beef stock cube
10g dark chocolate (72% cocoa)
Basmati rice
Sour cream (optional)

Method

1. Heat the oil in a large lidded casserole pan.

2. Finely chop the onion and then sauté for 3 minutes.

3. Then brown the mince in the same pan.

4. Add the cumin, ground coriander, oregano and chilli flakes. Cook for 3 minutes.

5. Add the flour, stirring on the heat for a minute.

6. Next, make up the stock using the stock cube and boiling water and add it to the pan. Also, add the tinned tomatoes, kidney beans in their chilli sauce, the chocolate and a good pinch of salt.

7. Stir everything round and bring to the boil. Then simmer on a low heat with the lid on for 45 minutes.

8. Serve on a bed of basmati rice and a dollop of sour cream, if you have it.

Do try this recipe, it really is quite delicious. Like always let me know what you think.

Until next time.

Julie
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Smoked Paprika Beans and Chorizo

Smoked paprika beans and chorizo 2

Between Christmas and New Year I went out for a lovely meal at a local Italian restaurant. My starter was goats cheese wrapped in pan fried aubergine with a rocket salad and a balsamic glaze, which tasted really good. My main meal was an unusual choice for me as I would normally go for the pasta option (no surprises there!), it was roast chicken topped with pancetta on a bed of beans and spinach. Both were absolutely gorgeous and I was most pleased with my menu choices.

Whilst enjoying my dinner I kept thinking that this meal I was eating would be something I could recreate at home. Well, it’s not quite the same and I have included chorizo in mine and left out the roast chicken, so it’s more of a Spanish inspired dish than Italian. So really, it is a completely different dish but the inspiration came from there. All that said, I was rather pleased with my creation, the smoked paprika and cayenne pepper gave the haricot beans just enough heat without being too spicy making this meal a real comforting plate of food.

Made in one casserole pan it saves on the dishes too.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

1 small onion
1 medium carrot
1 stick of celery
75g cubed cooking chorizo
1 tablespoon olive oil
410g tin haricot beans
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper

Method

1. Heat the olive oil in a lidded casserole pan.

2. Very finely chop the onion, carrot and celery then sauté in the pan for about 7 minutes on a medium heat.

3. Then, add chorizo and cook for a further 7 minutes.

4. Drain the haricot beans and add the to the pan along with the tomatoes.

5. Using the tomato tin fill it up half way with water and add to the pan.

6. Add the smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and a grinding of black pepper then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and place the lid on partially simmering for 30 minutes.

7. Stir every now and again, adding salt if necessary. Then serve.

I enjoyed my beans topped with rocket leaves and a seeded buttered roll.

I have entered this recipe into the Spice Trail Challenge organised by Vanesther at Bangers and Mash. This months challenge is to include paprika in a dish.

I do like reading your comments, so don’t be shy and leave your thoughts in the box below.

Until next time.

Julie
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Spinach and Pepperoni with Mafaldine Pasta

Spinach an pepperoni with mafaldine pasta

Happy New Year, I have an easy peasy recipe for you as we begin 2014.

This quick pasta dish is made with mafaldine pasta, a unique long pasta with crinkly edges. I think it’s rather fun to experiment with different pasta types and this one is very pretty on the plate. One night, I needed a speedy supper for one and after taking a look in my fridge and freezer, this was the result. It was quite good too.

Ingredients (Serves 1 easily doubled)

100g mafaldine pasta
6 slices of pepperoni
65g frozen spinach (approx weight or use a handful of fresh spinach instead)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons double cream
1/8 teaspoon chilli flakes

Method

1. In a large saucepan of salted boiling water cook the mafaldine pasta until al dente.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan and then sauté the frozen spinach until wilted.

3. Slice the pepperoni in strips about 1cm wide and add to the pan.

4. Remove a small cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside.

5. When the pasta is cooked drain it and then add the pasta to the pan of spinach and pepperoni. Also, add to the pan a splash of the cooking water, the cream and chilli flakes.

6. Stir on the heat until everything is heated through. Then serve.

This is an ideal meal if you are late in from work or are short of time. I hope you enjoy, like always let me know what you think.

Here’s to a great year of cooking.

Until next time.

Julie

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