Thursday, 28 January 2016


When Jamie Oliver first came on the scene, I was pretty obsessed with his cookbooks. I think I bought them all and cooked about one recipe if that - I mainly just looked at the pictures! Fast forward 10 years and whilst I still like Jamie, I never buy his books anymore for the simple reason that his recipes always require so many ingredients and so many herbs. His latest book is based around super foods and balanced eating and a friend of mine bought it so I photographed a few recipes including this pasta recipe. The recipe was quick and easy to make and took about 20 minutes in total. Jamie suggests you make your own pasta but I bought mine!

Ingredients for 4 people:

400g pasta such as spaghetti or tagliatelle
250ml creme fraiche 
150g sliced fontina or another nice melting cheese (I used mozzarella)
150g Parmesan, finely grated
400g purple sprouting broccoli, cut into bite size pieces (I just used normal broccoli)
2 large egg yolks
A small bunch of fresh herbs such as thyme, marjoram or oregano (I used some dried oregano and fresh thyme - not pictured)
Salt and pepper

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. In a bowl, large enough to rest on the top of the saucepan, mix together the creme fraiche, the Parmesan, the melting cheese such as mozzarella or fontina and season. Place the bowl on top of the pan so that the cheese melts. Mine took about 15 minutes and I occasionally gave it a stir.

While this is cooking bring another pan of salted boiling water to boil for your pasta and cut the broccoli into bite size pieces - mine were far too big to eat!

Depending on how long your pasta takes, put it on so it is ready for when your cheese melts. Mine took 8 minutes.

Finally in a separate pan of boiling water, cook the broccoli for the final 3 minutes so this is also ready around the same time.

In a little bowl, mix the egg yolk with the herbs.

When the cheese is melted, mix in the egg and herbs.

Drain the broccoli and pasta but reserve some of the pasta water just in case you need it to loosen your sauce - I didn't.

Combine the pasta, cheese and broccoli. Taste and season if necessary - mine needed quite a bit of seasoning.

Sprinkle with some extra Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil and eat immediately.

Arabella enjoyed this as she loves cheese and broccoli although she would have preferred me to use goats cheese to mozzarella. I wasn't a huge fan as broccoli isn't my favourite vegetable, I would prefer this with mushrooms but that would be Arabella's idea of food hell! I was expecting more from a Jamie Oliver recipe but maybe I should have used more fresh herbs, I just find that I end up buying bunches of herbs that I then throw away….much better in the summer when we can grow them ourselves.

Anyway a nice recipe and a good way to get kids to eat their greens!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016


I love filo pastry but I have never actually cooked with it or even bought it before. My first surprise was that it was frozen and then my second surprise was how messy and flimsy it is - I made a right old pig's ear of it!! Anyway practise makes perfect and I soon got the hang of it….cue this could be the start of many filo recipes…I can't wait to do something with feta and spinach!

Anyway this is a recipe card from Sainsbury's and is especially for kids. It took just over 45 minutes in total.

Ingredients for 12 parcels - I think an adult would eat 3 and a child 2:

240g boneless salmon fillets
1 medium egg, beaten
125g full fat soft cheese
1/4 x 28g flat leaf parsley, chopped (I actually used dill)
6 sheets of ready rolled filo pastry, cut in half
150g frozen petit pois
2 tbsp olive oil
335g cherry tomatoes
200g pack of green vegetables like fine beans or sugar snaps

Preheat the oven to 190 C, 170 C fan, gas mark 5.

Fill a saucepan with boiling water, add the salmon fillets and simmer for 5 minutes.

Next drain the salmon and let it cool slightly before removing the skin.

Flake into a bowl and mix with the egg, soft cheese, parsley (dill in my case) and the frozen peas and mix well. Don't forget to season generously.

Cut the 6 sheets of filo pastry in half. Take one half at a time, brush with olive oil and then fold in half again. Put 2 tablespoons of the salmon mixture into the centre of the filo pastry, brush the edges with oil and then fold the pastry up and twist like a parcel. This is much easier if you don't overload each parcel with filling. Repeat this with the remaining filo sheets and salmon mixture. Put them on a baking tray and brush with oil once again.

Put the tomatoes on another baking tray and put in the oven with the salmon parcels and bake for 25 minutes. Leave to cool a little.

Five minutes before the salmon parcels and tomatoes are ready, cook your vegetables according to the packet's instructions. Mine took 4 minutes in a saucepan of boiling water.

Divide the salmon parcels, tomatoes and vegetables between the plates and tuck in. I would suggest two parcels for a child and three for an adult.

Arabella adored these however I found them a little bland. Next time I would add some chopped sun dried tomatoes to the parcels as well to add a little more flavour - then they would be perfect for me. It was a nice different way to cook salmon however you could use any boneless white fish as an alternative instead. A great kid friendly supper.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016


A healthy varied diet has always been important to me, however now it is even more so as I am pregnant with my second baby. I think my diet can sometimes be quite carb heavy as we all love pasta in our house, so I am trying to add more meat and fish so I have plenty of protein and omega 3s as well. 

Tonight I decided on this lamb kofta dish - I remember cooking it one summer about 5 years ago as we put the koftas on the barbecue but we hadn't chilled them beforehand and they completely fell apart! I wasn't going to make the same mistake this time round. These only take about 25 minutes to prepare and cook but I also left them to chill in the fridge for 3 hours.

Ingredients for 4 people:

2 x 250g lamb mince
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped (I used dried as that is what I had in the house)
1 tsp ground coriander
Grated zest and juice of half a lemon
1 small cucumber, diced
150g natural yoghurt
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp of fresh mint, finely chopped

To serve:
Goat's cheese or Feta cheese
Cherry tomatoes
Pitta bread or tortilla wrap

It is firstly important to remember to soak the wooden skewers in water for 10 minutes to prevent them burning. I only did 5 minutes and it wasn't long enough!

Mix together the mince, oregano, coriander, lemon zest and seasoning in a bowl.

Divide the mixture into 12 sausage shaped balls and squeeze around 12 skewers - (I was only cooking the recipe for Arabella and I so used half the ingredients and just did 6). Chill in the fridge for at least an hour, I did around 3 hours.

Just before you are ready to cook, preheat the grill (or barbecue) and grill the lamb koftas for 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally until well browned and cooked through.

Whilst these are cooking, make the dip by mixing the cucumber, yoghurt, garlic, mint, lemon juice and seasoning.

We served the lamb koftas with the minty cucumber dip, some goat's cheese for Arabella and feta for me, cherry tomatoes and a pitta bread - delicious!

These were really good and a nice, different way to eat lamb. Arabella and I did agree that we would use tortilla wraps rather than pitta breads next time as they are easier to eat. I adored the minty cucumber dip, it makes a great alternative to hummus and I will be making it again at the weekend to have with some crisps!

Monday, 25 January 2016


My ex mother-in-law in coming to visit next week and so I wanted to bake something nice and my daughter Arabella suggested a lemon drizzle cake. The problem is I have never cooked one before so I thought it best to have practise run. I was with my ex husband for ten years and I don't think I baked a cake once in that entire period, so as this is the first cake I have ever made for my ex mother in law, I wanted to be a good one.

This is a recipe from Fay Ripley's first cookbook, it was pretty simple to make and took about an hour in total.

Ingredients for one cake - 8 good slices:

200g soft butter
200g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs
50g plain or white spelt flour
125 ground almonds
Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
Juice of 1 lemon

For the icing:
Juice of 1 lemon
7-8 tablespoons icing sugar

A 20-22cm round cake tin

Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan), 200 C, gas mark 6.

Line the bottom of a round cake tin and butter the sides. 

Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. I used an electric whisk to make this job easier and it took about 5 minutes.

Slowly whisk in the eggs one at a time. Arabella helped me with this part by cracking the eggs!

Then slowly add the flour, almonds and lemon zest and whisk all together.

Put the mixture into your lined and buttered tin and bake for 35-40 minutes. I did 35 minutes and I didn't need anymore time!

Remove from the oven and whilst still hot and in the tin, stab with a skewer or chopstick so you have around 15 little holes all over the cake. Arabella again helped with this part and got a bit over zealous - some of the holes were slightly too big!!

Drizzle the juice of 1 lemon into the holes and all over the cake. Leave in the tin to cool.

To make the icing, just mix a little lemon juice at a time into the icing sugar to make a light paste.

Smooth onto the top of the cake - this wasn't as easy as I thought! I think I added too much lemon juice as mine was a little too runny, not that it really matters.

Cut into slices and enjoy!

Lemon drizzle cake is not something I would normally eat, I would choose something with chocolate, but I am now a complete convert. This was really good. I actually surprised myself with how delicious it was and had a slice for breakfast and for lunch! Arabella is a huge fan as well. I did wonder how Arabella and I would eat an entire cake in a week and then make another one for next week, well I know now, it won't be a problem, I could eat this for every meal!!