Cookies for Helen.

March 21, 2010

We had a fab lunch with friends yesterday, albeit short and sweet due to a child emergency! A wonderful lasagna was cooked by my dear friend Helen, it’s just what we needed on a wet and cold Saturday lunch time, comfort food at its best. I brought along a box of homemade chocolate orange cookies as a token of friendship, nothing exudes love like baked goods. So as promised to Hels here’s the recipe.

You will need

150g golden caster sugar

100g butter or butter like spread

1 egg

150g plain flour

40g Cocoa powder

half a bar of very very dark chocolate (one of those big bars)

grated peel of one large orange

pre heat the oven to 180c

  • cream the butter and sugar together with a spoon until light pale and smooth.
  • crack the egg in the bowl and beat quickly into the creamed mixture until combined.
  • weigh out the flour and cocoa powder and stir together, now fold in gradually to your sugar/butter/egg mix.
  • It will stiffen up into a very thick gooey consistency, now with the chocolate still in the wrapper beat it with a rolling-pin/heavy book, I use a hammer until it’s all shattered into little chunks.
  • fold the chocolate bits into the dough evenly and the finely grated orange peel.
  • using a tablespoon scoop up a ball and drop the ball onto a greased baking tray or on grease proof paper lined tray, space your chocolate lumps evenly apart by 3cm ish. They look like chocolate rocks!

Pop them in the oven for 10 mins they spread out a little as they melt but not too much.

Take the tray out and leave for a couple of mins for the cookies to stiffen a little, if you try to scrape them off the tray straight away they are too soft and gooey. Leave on a cooling rack, consume at your leisure but they wont make it for anymore than 24 hours in the house.


Friday fish day.

March 19, 2010

I was scouring the net today for a Friday night fish supper and came across this great recipe for ‘Mexican fish wraps’.

As a child we always had fish on a Friday and I remember waiting in anticipation outside Mays chippy in Cosham and the highlight of choosing a Panda pop (fizzy cherry flavour) it was in glass bottles which is pretty old school.

johnsons fish sales

Check out Johnsons fish sales in Old Portsmouth for local and sustainable white fish thats cheaper and fresher than the supermarket. Some superb photos of the market can be found on the Quiet Corners flickr page

For the wraps you will need:

  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime.
  • 700g skinless white fish fillet, cut into strips
  • 2 egg whites , beaten with a fork
  • 100g coarse fresh breadcrumbs
  • 4 squirts oil spray
  • 200g pot tzatziki
  • 8 small, soft flour tortillas
  • small wedge iceberg lettuce or white cabbage, shredded
  1. Sprinkle the lime zest over the pieces of fish, then season. Dip the fish into the egg whites, then coat with breadcrumbs and place on a baking sheet. Spray the fish with 2 squirts oil, then grill for 2 mins. Flip them over, spray with more oil, then grill for a further 2 mins until the fish is cooked and the breadcrumbs are golden and crispy. alternatively shallow fry in olive or sunflower oil.
  2. Squeeze the lime juice into the tzatziki and stir. Warm the tortillas according to pack instructions. To assemble the wraps, place a handful of cabbage or lettuce onto the top two-thirds of a tortilla, then rest 3 fish fingers on top with a good dollop of the lime tzatziki. Bring the bottom third of the tortilla up and fold the sides over to envelop the filling.

Try with a nice cold glass of Desperado, which I rather like.

St Patricks one pot.

March 15, 2010

After last months St Davids recipe of leek risotto it’s now the turn of good ole St Patrick and whats better than a lovely warming one pot and a pint of the black stuff?

Yesterday my Mum cooked an amazing roast dinner  for Mothers Day and I provided pudding (spotted dick, stop giggling). Mum did a roast leg of lamb which rocked! I asked her if I could have the bone and meat scraps that were left so I could make a stew. Nothing has to go to waste really and there is so much flavour in the bone to make stock and some lovely bits of lamb. I got hold of a bargain veg stew pack for 30p! So tonight’s dinner for 4 costs less than a quid, well I’m not buying the Guinness am I?

My Great Granny uped and left Ireland due to poverty and famine and settled in Newcastle where she bought up my Gran who still lives in one of the most deprived parts of Newcastle today. My Mum and Gran have taught me so much about cooking, how to use food and stretch it but it tastes soooo good. We have a food budget of about £40 a week, it used to be £100 in my husbands previous job, but times and situations change and we adapt so the skills they taught me have come to fruition, thanks ladies!

Granny Caulfields Stew.

You can use:

Lamb shanks, diced casserole lamb or in my case a left over roast lambs leg.

homemade stock (just buy lamb or beef stock cube to save time)

  • Strip the bone of meat and keep meat in fridge. Add the bones to a pot of boiling salted water with a stick of celery a chopped onion and a chopped carrot.
  • Cover and simmer for an hour or more, you should end up with a lovely stock.
  • Drain and keep the liquid, discard the bones and veg.


3 large Potatoes

med swede

2 med parsnips

5 carrots

1/2 cup pearl barley

1 lge onion

lamb meat

  • In a large pot fry the onions in a little butter until soft, add the carrots, parsnip and swede, cubed.
  • Pour in the stock about a pint and a half and bring to the boil. Now add the pearl barley, cover and simmer for an hour until the barley is cooked, now add the potatoes.
  • Season the stew to taste and cook for a further 20 mins.

Now its time to add the dumplings.

100g self-raising flour

50g suet (I use Atora light suet)

  • Mix together in a bowl with a little water and a pinch of salt until you get a pliable dough.
  • shape into balls
  • pop the dumplings on top of the stew they should be bobbing about.
  • put the lid back on and simmer for 30 mins.
  • now add the lamb meat you saved from the left over roast and heat through.
  • Serve with a glass of Guinness and a slice of soda bread.

Red onions.

March 15, 2010

The marmalade make went really well yesterday so heres the recipe!

3 lge red onions

3 tbs olive oil

1 tsp coriander seeds

3tbs red wine vinegar

4 tbs sugar

  • Cook the onions and coriander gently in olive oil for 20 mins until translucent.
  • Add the sugar and vinegar and cook for another 15 mins until reduced, you can add a couple of tbs of water if desired.
  • The mix should be glossy and sticky, pop in a jar and it will keep for 3 weeks in the fridge.

It is such and easy recipe but it will give you so much satisfaction and it looks lovely and colourful too.

Why not add a couple of red chillis to the onions when they cook to make a spicy version, this tastes awesome in a bun with homemade burgers!

Goes well with…..

March 14, 2010

Often you come across a jar of something which seems indispensible with your lunch and dinner. Recently it was Chillirissa from the ‘The Chilli Jam Company’. I really enjoyed it on toast with goats cheese and ham for about 3 days in a row, my husband found this gross but I loved it. I think pickles and preserves are a personal preference, too sweet,spicy,sour we all have our favourites. I don’t like piccalilli but the other half does.

One thing I love is red onion marmalade, its great with cheese on toast, sausages, in sandwiches, yummy with tuna and salads, oh the list is endless.

A pot of R/O Marmalade also makes a lovely gift presented in a kilner jar, Julian Graves in Palmerston Road sell them cheaply. Just finish with a hand tied label and maybe include some posh cheese as part of the gift. Check out Hampshire Cheeses for a special foodie treat, mmmm cheese.

tunworth cheese, made in Hampshire

Im off to make some R/O Marmalade to take to my Mums today, just some tinkering with the recipe and I will post it up asap!

Make for Mum.

March 11, 2010

A winner!

I found this recipe in my inbox today and I have to share it. If I received homemade chocolate cookies for mother’s day it would beat an over priced bunch of flowers any day. My kids are 5 and 3 though so maybe if Dad helps they could pull it off. Funnily enough I am making my Mum ‘Spotted Dick’ for mother’s day, hey laugh all you want! I might have to share that recipe too!

  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 100g butter , softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g plain flour
  • 140g milk chocolate , melted
  • 85g white chocolate , chips or chopped into chunks
  • 85g plain chocolate , chips or chopped into chunks
  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Line 1-2 baking sheets with baking parchment. Mix the sugars and butter together with a wooden spoon, then add the egg, vanilla, flour and half the melted milk chocolate and mix together. Stir in the white and plain chocolate chips or chunks, then use an ice-cream scoop or round tablespoon (like a measuring spoon) to scoop out balls of cookie dough and drop them straight onto the trays.
  2. Bake in batches for 8-9 mins until pale golden and still soft to touch – they will firm up as they cool. Carefully transfer to a wire rack as soon as they can be lifted up, then drizzle with the remaining melted chocolate.

Italian Market.

March 8, 2010

This weekend Gunwharf Quays will be playing host to an Italian Market, with lots to taste and take home. I adore Italian food and you cant beat great ingredients so check out the market and hopefully the sun will be shining like it is today!

Home Grown

March 4, 2010

My patch.

This was my veg patch in October 2009, I had just planted all the things that could survive winter. Well we certainly had a very cold one and they did survive. Now Spring is on its way so it will soon be time to harvest the winter veg and start preparing the soil for new crops. I have been putting it off all week but have deciced to don my gloves today and get out there. I still have a massive bed down the side of the garden that needs clearing, oh well.

I have 2 types of cabbage, broad beans, red onions and some very strong garlic which is not far off harvesting. I must admit out of all the above the thing that least excites me is cabbage, so why did I plant so much? The solution will be to palm it off to friends and family (not quite the same as recieving a bag of home grown strawberries or toms is it?) and start learning and creating some new cabbage recipe’s. Which in turn will result in my husband creating an unpleasent ‘atmosphere’ under the duvet.

Heres a little recipe the hubby and I came up with.

Shanghai Steak and greens

Serves 2

1 Sirloin Steak

Shredded Cabbage, as much as you like!

1 red chilli

3 Spring Onions cut into strips

2 tbs Oyster sauce and 4 tbs Soy sauce

Sesame oil

a little sugar

  • Cut the steak into strips and combine in a bowl with the Oyster sauce, half the soy sauce and a spirinkle of sugar.
  • Heat your pan and coat in sesame oil.
  • pop in the chilli, spring onion and greens and stir fry. If you like your greens crispy then a couple of minutes will suffice.
  • Now add your steak with its dressing, stir fry quickly so the steak is medium rare, it will be lovely and melt in the mouth.

Serve the steak and greens on a bed of rice noodles.

Moshi Moshi

March 3, 2010

The lovely Harumi

If your a budding cook chances are you have a chef/cook you admire. For me its Harumi Kurihara, she fuelled the flames of my obsession with cooking good Japanese food at home. My husband bought me one of her books, I had never heard of her before but her book blew me away and made me realise how easy Japanese home cooking is. If we have any cash to spare we look each other in the eye and declare ‘Sushi’ its our little luxury as a couple.

Soon after we moved to Germany I discovered a wealth of Japanese red lantern cafe’s in Dusseldorf, it has the biggest expat Japanese community in Europe. I assumed Sushi was the main food served in the dark lacquered wood eateries, although it remains a firm favourite I soon discovered a wealth of food. Udon noodles are now a staple in our house as our Soba noodles. Yakitori Chicken is amazing and so simple to make and I make sushi at home which the kids love! Now I’m back in the UK its  a lot harder to get hold of ingredients (no more Japanese delis and supermarkets) but here is a recipe you can easily try at home. They are both inspired by Harumi and our life in Germany, my twist to yakitori is the ginger and the accompanying rice dish is my own recipe.

Yakitori Chicken

6 Chicken Thighs  (just cut away from the bone and its cheaper than breast) Try Bransbury  Park Butchers or Buckwells in Osborne Road.


Dark Soya Sauce (Kikkoman is an awesome japanese sauce)

Caster sugar

grated fresh ginger

  • cut the chicken into bite size pieces and pop in a bowl.
  • grate a small piece of ginger.
  • mix the ginger with 6 tablespoons of soya sauce and 1 teaspoon of sugar.
  • stir into the chicken and leave to marinatedfor 30 mins or all day if you like in the fridge!
  • thread onto skewers, if you don’t have any just grill or pan fry the pieces.
  • I cook mine in a lightly oiled griddle pan, but on the BBQ is awesome or under your grill for a few minutes on each side until the chicken is browned and the sauce is sticky.

Cucumber and radish with sticky rice.

Radish is a staple in Japanese cuisine, whether its pickled or grated raw it can a clean and crunchy texture.

Sushi rice (one cup)

Half a Cucumber sliced in thin ribbons with a potato peeler

6 grated radishes

seseme seeds toasted

Rice wine vinegar (if you cant find this use white wine vinegar)

  • Cook the rice according to pack instructions and leave to cool
  • whilst the rice is cooking prepare the vegetables and toast the seeds in a hot dry frying pan.
  • now combine the ingredients in a serving bowl and toss through the toasted seeds and vegetables.
  • Sprinkle with rice wine vinegar to add a delicate sharpness

This dish will really compliment the sweetness of the Yakitori and looks really pretty.

These recipes are so easy to make and prepare and bring a taste of Japan into your home and you can source the meat and vegetables locally too!

Pretty Pizza.

March 1, 2010

We have kind of established a family tradition of making home-made pizza every weekend. We certainly can’t afford home delivery, even a fairly good deli pizza in the supermarket is about £4.00, and one pizza between 4 people is not enough, well in our house anyway!

So I thought I would share some tips on what makes a good pizza and where to buy good cheap ingredients.

Making the dough can be time-consuming but its worth it, it also helps you to de-stress, all that kneading and beating the life out of it, think of your bosses face if that helps 🙂

These pizzas plus amazing toppings work out about 2 quid each!


250-350ml/8¾-12¾fl oz lukewarm water
1 tbsp active dried yeast
550g/1lb 3½oz strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp clear honey
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing


1. Pour 150ml/5¼fl oz of the water into a bowl and sprinkle over the yeast. Stir to dissolve, then leave to rest in a warm place for ten minutes.
2. Sift the flour, salt and pepper into a large bowl. Stir the honey and olive oil into the yeast mixture until well combined.
3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the yeast mixture, mixing to form a soft and slightly sticky dough. Add enough of the remaining water, little by little, until you have achieved the correct consistency.
4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and lightly flour your hands. Knead the dough for ten minutes until it is smooth and pliable.  Lightly oil a large bowl – it should be big enough to allow the dough to double in size. Put the dough inside and cover with cling film. Set aside in a warm place for 1-2 hours. Whilst its rising pour yourself a well-earned glass of something!
6. When the dough has doubled in size, remove the cling film and punch the dough down. Remove from the bowl and knead again until smooth. Shape into whatever size or shape you want, a big rectangle works well in my oven, I can normally get 2 out of a ball of dough. Oh and use a bit of flour to stop the dough sticking.

Now for the topping…..

Getting Saucy.

I make my own tomato sauce but a shop bought one is just fine, or just use passatta straight form the carton with some torn basil.

On top. (sorry for the innuendo)

  • Mozzarella, mushrooms and smoked ham. I really recommend Lidl mozzarella its way cheaper than other shops and great quality, I also love the Serrano ham they stock and the German Black Forest smoked ham is awesome.
  • Goats cheese, roast squash and red chilli. Chop your squash into small cubes, cover in olive oil and roast in a hot oven for 25mins, add some garlic cloves for some pep! Once roasted scatter on top of your pizza with some goats cheese (a mild one is best) and a chopped red chilli. This is an awesome pizza, I love it my husband hates it.
  • Tuna, red onion and black olive. This looks really pretty and the tastes go really well together, it’s incredibly cheap to make.

I really cant express how much fun pizza night is and it’s so good cold the next day. Im going to try and find a local cheese to use on my pizza so I will keep you informed if I find such a thing!