Recipe: Courgette & Orange Loaf Cake

I promised a recipe for this Courgette & Orange Loaf Cake a few weeks ago (when I spoke about my favourite ways to use up a courgette glut) – and here it is. In fact this is probably perfectly timed, as courgettes are still coming through, but I have noticed them starting to be a little more bitter, more ‘woolly’ and not their best. This recipe will certainly transform below-par courgettes into something delicious.

 photo Courgette Orange Loaf Cake_zps789aalfg.jpgPacked with citrus flavours (I added lemon zest as well as orange for a real zingy hit) you’d never guess this is filled with a vegetable. I mean, it’s still not a healthy cake by any means, but it is slightly less guilt-inducing! The courgette doesn’t really impact much flavour, but what it does bring to the party is an amazing texture. The loaf cake is moist and tender, but still has a good ‘cake’ feel. It’s not mushy by any means! And it also seems to taste really well, in fact it was almost even beter after a day in the fridge (I wouldn’t usually keep cakes in the fridge, but cream cheese frosting and the UK heatwave wasn’t a combination I wanted to try out!).

 photo Courgette amp Orange Loaf Cake 5_zpsn5m9gfsz.jpg photo Courgette amp Orange Loaf Cake 18_zps8bqddjvz.jpg photo Courgette amp Orange Loaf Cake 15_zpsuhv0k6uw.jpgRecipe (makes a large 900g loaf tin- though I made mine in mini-loaf tins for ease of portioning out to various offices – based on a BBC Good Food recipe)

  • 350g courgettes
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 125ml sunflower oil
  • 3 eggs
  • grated zest 2 oranges
  • grated zest 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp orange extract (we used Dr Oetker*)
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Frosting – I wasn’t too impressed with my attempt at the frosting and so won’t give the recipe, but next time I’d try this recipe

Lightly oil and line a 900g loaf tin. Finely grate the courgettes (no need to peel unless the skin is particular though), then squeeze out as much liquid as you can with your hands. I also let the grated courgettes sit in a sieve, weighted with a bowl filled with baking beans, whilst I weighed everything else out.

Stir the courgettes with the sugar, oil, eggs, zest, and orange extract, then fold in the flour and baking powder. Like with banana bread it’s really important not to overmix or the texture will be doughy and not particularly cake-like. I found the mix was particularly dry and stiff, but don’t worry as the courgettes release a lot of water as the cake cooks.

Scrape the mixture into the tin and bake for 50 minutes at 180C, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean (mine needed an extra ten minutes). Remove from the tin after a few minutes, and the cool on a wire rack. Make sure the cake is completely cool before icing with your chosen frosting.

 photo Courgette amp Orange Loaf Cake 12_zpshmh8ruae.jpg photo Courgette amp Orange Loaf Cake 3_zpscup8eypb.jpgThis Courgette & Orange Loaf went down a storm when I took it into the office – it’s actually been my most popular bake and disappeared before lunch. I was very glad I’d left a slice at home for me to enjoy later or I wouldn’t have got a look in…

Are you a fan of vegetable cakes? Would you choose to bake with courgette?

Recipe: Chipotle Chicken Tacos with Sweetcorn & Avocado Salsa (+ 5 Favourite Ways to Use up Roast Chicken)

Bad Millennial alert, but I hated avo until a couple of months ago. Now I can’t get enough of the stuff, and this is the recipe which converted me!

 photo Chicken Tacos with Sweetcorn amp Avocado Salsa 3_zpslaqquyzd.jpgMost Sundays in our house involve a roast of some sort, even if it’s just the two of us eating. In fact, especially if it’s just the two of us eating – purely because we get yummy leftovers for a few days. A whole chicken is invariably our meat of choice, it’s generally the cheapest option and the leftovers are SO versatile. From a large bird we tend to get our Sunday dinner out of one, plus two more dinners, some stock and a couple of lunches (or another dinner) too. Bargain!

Whether you’re roasting your own chicken or buying one of the pre-cooking rotisserie ones from the supermarket (love the garlicky ones!) you can do SO much with the leftovers. Such, have chicken sandwiches for the rest of the week, but you could also get inventive. And these chicken tacos are my all-time favourite…

The Corn & Avocado salsa recipe is based on this one from Chelsea’s Messy Apron, and it’s bladdddyyyy delish! I’ve simplified it down as I prefer to bulk out the chicken filling with onion, I’ve ditched any tomato and kept it really simple and just tossed the veggies in some lime juice and a spot of seasoning. I don’t think it needs anything else as the flavours are so light and fresh!

 photo Chicken Tacos with Sweetcorn amp Avocado Salsa 3_zpslaqquyzd.jpgRecipe – serves 2

  • 2 servings leftover roast chicken, shredded – around 2 medium handfuls
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp chipotle paste
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime (half the juice goes into the chicken, half in the salsa)
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 150g sweetcorn
  • 1 pack fresh coriander, chopped
  • 6 soft tacos
  • Soured cream and/or feta, to serve

First up, prep your sweetcorn by popping it into a dry frying pan over a high heat until it’s a little charred. We actually use frozen sweetcorn and defrost it in the pan this way – if you’re using tinned you may want to rinse it as I find the water can sometimes make the salsa over-sweet. Allow the corn to cool in the pan.

Meanwhile, take another pan and heat over a medium heat. Add a little oil and a pinch of salt, then fry the onion until beginning to soft. Add in the chipotle paste and stir to combine – you could also add in other spices such as cumin, paprika and coriander just here, or a little extra chilli. Throw in your chicken and stir-fry until piping hot, before squeezing in the juice of half a lime.

Prep your avo at the last minute, dicing it and then adding to a pop with the lime zest, remaining juice and a little salt. Toss in the cooled sweetcorn and plenty of coriander, then serve alongside the chicken with some taco wraps, soured cream and feta. And that’s it! My current favourite Monday-night supper of super-easy Chipotle Chicken Tacos with Corn and Avocado Salsa!

 photo Roast Chicken and Leftovers1_zpsrqiaohag.jpg photo Roast Chicken and Leftovers3_zps5xnu8rm4.jpg And if you don’t fancy tacos? Here are another five of my favourite ways to use up leftover roast chicken:

  • Pie, ideally one combining Chicken, Ham & Leek. I’ll be posting an updated version of this recipe soon!
  • French-style salad – heated chicken combined with lentils, green beans, salad leaves and a soft-boiled egg in a vinaigrette dressing. So, so good!
  • Pasta bakes – mushroomy if possible!
  • Stir-fries. You just can’t go wrong with adding shredded chicken into noodles.
  • Sweetcorn Bacon and Chicken Chowder. This is one of my favourite recipes, and I always like to have a tub leftover to freeze as it’s just so comforting.

Are you a fan of cooking a roast and using up the leftovers? What’s your go-to use for roast chicken?

Cooking From: Blackberry & Custard Biscuits (Sweet by Ottolenghi)

Confession time! The actual recipe in Sweet (by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh) is for Rhubarb & Custard Biscuits and, whilst I’m sure they are utterly delicious, it just isn’t the season for rhubarb. I’ll be making them for sure next spring, but for now we’re using the very much in season (and very foragable, unless you live in London!) blackberry. We actually bought blacberries in our weekly shop, expecting the first weekend of September to be cool enough for a crumble – wrong. The heatwave made a brief (albeit slightly cooler) reappearance and so biscuits it was.

 photo Blackberry Custard Biscuits_zpsox78ji5s.jpgAnd what delicious biscuits they are. Sweet custardy biscuits, made with Bird’s custard powder so that they taste of my childhood. Tart homemade blackberry jam, beaten into buttercream and used to sandwich the biscuits. It all combines beaitfully, with the vanilla-sweetness tempering down the sharpness of the berries. It tastes like a bowl of crumble and custard, but it’s far easier to eat. Almost too easy, as the batch disappeared rather quickly…

And the other recipes in this cookbook are just as good, though I confess we’ve used it very sparingly over the year. It aims to “bring the Ottolenghi hallmarks of fresh, evocative ingredients, exotic spices and complex flavourings – including fig, rose petal, saffron, aniseed, orange blossom, pistachio and cardamom – to indulgent cakes, biscuits, tarts, puddings, cheesecakes and ice cream.” It certainly delivers, and in part that’s why we’ve not used this book as much as I’d like. Quite a few recipes seem to request more unusual ingredients, or use a more time consuming method, and quite often we bake as a random, spur-of-the-moment decision. Having tried this recipe, however, I know I need to make more of an effort to thumb through and use it more.

There are around 100 recipes, and a lot of them are very original – you’re not going to find basic brownies. Instead there’s brownies laced with tahini and halva – and as soon as I can find some halva I’ll be making them. There might not be your usual choc-chip cookies, but there are “Chocolate O Cookies” which are said to be the ultimate homemade Oreo. There’s a coffee and cardamon pound cake which sounds delicious. There’s several cheesecake recipes, many desserts we’d prepare for a dinner party (I’ve genuinely already started planning a feast for our next New Year’s Eve dinner – despite not having any guests yet!). Whilst we’ve not really used this, I can imagine it will be a book that will become well-thumbed over the years. Now I just need to get hold of some of Ottolenghi’s savoury cookbooks…

 photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 15_zpssfwr42xd.jpg photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 12_zpsqspu1gi6.jpg photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 18_zpsonjwyria.jpgRecipe (makes around 15)

  • 175g flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 65g custard powder
  • 65g icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 170g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • For the icing: 1 small stick of rhubarb (or 2 handfuls of blackberries – roughly 70g of fruit), 65g unsalted butter, 130g icing sugar, and 1/2 tsp lemon juice

If you making the rhubarb icing: spread pieces of rhubarb on tray and roast at 180C for 30 minutes, or until soft. Remove from oven and cool, then puree in food processor before adding butter. Add icing sugar and lemon juice and continue to process for a few minutes until it thickens. Transfer to a small bowl and let sit in the fridge to firm up. To make our blackberry filling, we popped the blackberries in a small pan with a tiny splash of water and simmered until soft, pureed, passed through a sieve to remove the pips, and then added butter and continued as per the recipe.

For the cookies, cream the butter with the flour, custard powder, icing sugar and salt on low speed til the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Increase speed to medium and beat for about 30 seconds until a dough forms. Roll dough into balls about 3cm round – they should weigh about 15g. Place on lined trays about 4cm apart. Dip the back prongs of a small fork in the extra flour and then press firmly but gently into the back of each ball so that the cookie flattens. Bake at 170C on lined baking trays for about 25 minutes, let cool on trays for about 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

To assemble, spread 15g of icing on the flat side of a cookie and sandwich with the flat side of another. The forked sides should be facing out. Store in an airtight container if you manage not to eat them immediately.

 photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 8_zpsajnh5wwy.jpg photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 20_zps78yop1qu.jpgThese we found were the perfect afternoon snack for a weekend. Lovely with a cup of tea (I’m favouring Yorkshire’s Biscuit Brew at the moment), they were light, sweet and had a really comforting taste coming from the custard powder. The biscuits really melted in the mouth too! I’m looking forward to next year’s rhubarb season when I can try the full recipe…

Have you tried any of Ottolenghi’s books? Which do you recommend? 

Recipe: Cheat’s Chocolate Mousse

One of my all-time favourite desserts is a chocolate mouse. My go-to recipe involves Mars Bars, but the one I’m writing about today is super-simple, super-quick and a total cheat. There’s no separating and whisking of eggs. There’s no melting chocolate. It doesn’t have to be left to set for hours, though does benefit from a session chillin’ in the fridge.

 photo Cheats Chocolate Mousse_zpstugauofq.jpgBasically, grab a pot of cream from the corner shop and you can make an impromptu chocolate mousse providing you, like me, keep some hot chocolate powder in the house. I favour a Swiss brand, Caotina Original (this isn’t a sponsored post btw!) as it’s ridiculously chocolately and indulgent without being over rich. We bulk by it each time we visit Switzerland, or get friends who visit to grab us a pack.

 photo Cheats Chocolate Mousse 8_zpsizvmvvki.jpgRecipe – generously serves 2-3

  • 300ml double cream
  • 6 heaped tsp of hot chocolate powder, or more to taste

First up, whip your cream into soft peaks. I find the best texture is achieved by hand, but you could use a stand mixer or electric hand whisk if you want. Once whipped, sift over the hot chocolate powder and gently fold through to combine, being careful not to knock any air out. Chill until ready to serve.

And that’s it! This cheat’s chocolate mousse, made with no-eggs and just hot chocolate powder, is so ridiculously easy. In fact, it’s dangerously easy as it’s all too quick and simple to make if you fancy a treat!
 photo Cheats Chocolate Mousse 1_zpsbfx7jyi0.jpg

What’s your go-to dessert?

Recipe: Indulgent Cauliflower Cheese Risotto

Interestingly, when I first posted this on Instagram describing it as a Cauliflower Risotto I got lots of comments assuming I’d replaced the rice with cauliflower. Whilst that did give me the idea for my Low-Carb Mushroom Risotto, this  recipe is far from as virtuous.

 photo Cauliflower Cheese Risotto_zpsuubwk5mw.jpgInstead, this dish combines the creamy, luxurious texture of a perfectly cooked risotto, with the decadent flavours of the gooiest cauliflower cheese. It’s not low-carb, it’s far from low-fat, and it’s also my least authentic risotto recipe. But this dish is bloody delicious. The perfect comfort food on a cold night, the risotto flavour that almost replaced mushroom as my all-time favourite.

It starts off as a pretty standard risotto, albeit there is finely chopped cauliflower stalks sautéed in with the onion and celery. Cauliflower florets (alongside any smaller leaves) are roasted, then tossed in butter. Some are stirred into the risotto, others are left as a garnish. To add to the cauliflower cheese elements of this risotto, cheddar is added alongside parmesan – Italians would be horrified, but I do feel it works well here.

Cauliflower Cheese Risotto. I dreamt it up on a rainy commute home from work, but it’s become a favourite.

 photo Cauliflower Risotto 5_zpsbs1kse1p.jpgRecipe (serves 2 generously)

  • 50g butter
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or a pinch of dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf, dried or fresh
  • 1 onion
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 small cauliflower, or half a larger one – stalk finely chopped, florets broken into small-medium pieces and the smaller leaves retained
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 150g risotto rice
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • 1 handful each of parmesan and cheddar, finely grated, plus extra parmesan to serve

Melt half of the butter in a large saucepan, then fry the onion, celery and chopped cauliflower stalk along with the thyme and bay leaf over a low heat for around 10 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes, then increase the heat and add the risotto rice. Toast, stirring constantly, for 1 minute then add around 100ml of the stock. Stir continually until absorbed, add more stock – then continue adding stock gradually and stirring until the rice is cooked – around 20 minutes. You may not need all of the stock, or you may need to use a little additional hot water.

Meanwhile, toss the cauliflower florets in a little oil and lots of salt and black pepper. Spread out on a baking tray and roast at 180C for 10 minutes. Add the smaller leaves, stir and continue to roast for another 10 minutes, or until tender and golden (if some of the smaller florets and browner and crispier this is fine). Once done, toss the cauliflower with the remaining butter. Add most of the cauliflower to the cooked risotto, retaining the leaves and a few florets for garnish.

Once cooked, remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the cheddar and parmesan. Cover with a lid and leave to stand for 5 minutes, then serve with extra parmesan.

 photo Cauliflower Risotto 7_zpsvljtjfzs.jpgThat’s it, Cauliflower Cheese Risotto. It combines two of my favourite foods in the most spectacular way, resulting in an indulgent, creamy, cheesy dish. My idea of heaven.

Are you a risotto or cauliflower cheese fan?

Food: All The Courgette Recipes (including a Courgette, Mint & Feta Puff Pastry Tart)

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll probably have gotten the impression that I love courgette (or zucchini if you’re over the pond!) – and you’d be right! My all-time favourite summer veg, it’s got a weekly place on our shopping list, and I nearly bit my boss’ arm off when he offered me some homegrown in his garden. It’s the perfect vegetable to cram into risottos or pasta dishes, it’s great used to bulk out sauces, it makes delicious chutney and it’s even good in cake. What more could you want in a vegetable?!

 photo Courgette Recipes_zpswmcoregu.jpgA lot of people don’t quite understand my love for courgettes, and when quizzed they’ve only had them boiled (ick!) or roasted, with little flavour added and care taken. Treated nicely a courgette is tender, almost sweet and has the most beautiful subtle flavour. I honestly love them – and this post includes just a few of my favourite ways to use them!

 photo Courgette Fritters 1_zpsttnvfkrw.jpgCourgette Fritters

I blogged about courgette fritters a few years ago, and it’s a recipe I still use to this day. Sometimes I’ll add feta, sometimes I’ll throw in a spring onion. I love adding mint (courgette and mint goes SO well together!), sometimes I’ll spice them up a little. Yum! I also love these cold as a little lunchbox filler…

 photo Courgette Risotto 2_zpslzqwzso4.jpgCourgette Risotto

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that my all-time favourite comfort food is, without question, a risotto. I love the creaminess, the carb overload, the cheesiness. The fact that I can thrown whatever I have in the fridge in and it will always taste good. My Courgette Risotto is subtle but combines lemon and basil along with plenty of Parmesan – lush!

Courgette Pasta

Adding courgette to pasta dishes is my go-to way of using them. I’ve added a couple of grated ones to my tomato-free Bolognese sauce (they cook down to virtually nothing, bulking out the source with even more veg and adding another subtle layer of flavour). My favourite summer pasta recipe is a copy-cat version of a Bella Italia dish, but I also love roasting courgette strips for barely five minutes, then mixing into pasta along with peas, lemon juice and feta…

My favourite courgette pasta dish though? A take on this recipe by Half Baked Harvest. I fried courgette slices for around 15 minutes over a medium heat, sloshed in some wine and garlic, mashed a little with the back of a spoon, and continued to cook (on a lower heat) whilst I boiled some pasta. Adding the pasta with a good ladle of cooking water, butter and parmesan combined it all into a thick and flavourful sauce. Finished with more cheese and some torn basil it was simple, tasty and just the kind of honest bowl of food I like to eat.

Griddled Courgette Salad

One thing I *don’t* like is raw courgette – I find it a weird texture, a tad bitter and just not that enjoyable. However, grill it, dress it, leave it to cool and then serve in a salad is something I can totally get on board with. I like to throw thin-ish slices on my George Foreman (well, fake cheapy one!), then pop into a bowl when soft. Toss with lemon, olive oil and plenty of seasoning then allow to cool (the courgettes soak up this dressing like a sponge) before tossing with salad leaves. Perfect as a side, but I’ll also add a little feta and maybe some pumpkin seeds to turn this into a lunchtime meal.

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Courgette & Orange Loaf Cake

I feel a bit mean including this one, as I’m not actually going to give you the recipe! What I will say is that courgette cake is absolutely delicious, and the recipe is worth waiting for (I’ll post it soon, I promise!). This loaf cake was like a lighter version of carrot cake, less heavily spiced with cinnamon, but zingier from the orange. I took it into work and there was only two slices left at lunchtime, which says it all!

Courgette, Feta & Mint Tart

This is probably my favourite courgette recipe of 2018 – and it’s super simple too making use of ready-rolled pastry. The mint adds such a nice and fresh flavour, but if you’re not a fan you could leave it out, or even try mixing it up with basil or dill. The key is to not arrange the courgette strips ‘prettily’ but pile them on and just ensure they are reasonably evenly distributed around the tart. Some of them will catch and lightly char in the oven, others will soften and caramelise. The feta adds seasoning, and the base of the tart is lovely and crisp. The perfect picnic treat!

 photo Courgette Feta and Mint Pastry Tart 8_zps2gt7ztlm.jpgRecipe (Serves 4 as a picnic snack or light lunch)

  • 2 small courgettes
  • 1/2 pack ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2-3 tbsp creme fraiche, I used low-fat
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • Some fresh mint, leaves only
  • Some feta, as much or as little as you like
  • Some olive oil, for drizzling

First off, simply peel thecourgettes with a veg peeler so you’ve got lots of long strips. Toss through a pinch of salt, then pop in a sieve, put a bowl on top and weigh it down with something heavy (I used a packet of rice!). Leave the courgettes for around 20 minutes, and preheat a baking tray in the oven. When the courgettes are ready, take the pastry and score an edge around 1cm from the borders. Brush the edges with a little beaten egg yolk, then mix the remaining egg yolk with the creme fraiche, spring onions and a handful of chopped mint. Spread the mixture over the middle of the pastry, and then top with the courgette strips. Sprinkle over some feta, drizzle with a little olive oil, carefully slide onto the hot tray and bake at 200C for around 25 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Serve warm or at room temperature – it’s delish!

 photo Courgette Feta and Mint Pastry Tart 5_zpsfrikxu3a.jpgI’m still going mad for different courgette recipes – next I’m hoping to try this frittata recipe to add to my list of lunchbox fillers, I also want to try adding it to a bean burger. I’ve also seen a couple of dips made from courgette around, which I HAVE to try before summer is out. I imagine it will be perfect with homemade pittas…oh, and I love them stir-fried for a few minutes, then dresses in a soy-garlic-ginger dressing. SO good, it’s a great light lunch option served with a little brown rice.

Are you are courgette/zucchini fan? What’s your favourite way to cook them?

Recipe: Vegan Coconut & Lime Ice-Cream

In case you haven’t heard, it’s been HOT in London over the last few days weeks months. It certainly feels like months now! The heatwave well and truly set in around June time, and it seems as though it’s here to stay. Luckily we’ve had a bit of rain and a few days of cooler weather just to remind us we are in the UK, but otherwise it’s been a solid few months of sunshine, sweaty Tube journeys and hiding in each shady spot we find. And eating ice-cream. Lots of ice-cream.

 photo Vegan Coconut IceCream_zps5tu770nn.jpgI’ve been trying to make homemade ice-cream a little more often this summer. I mean, given we have an ice-cream maker (the KitchenAid attachment) we have no excuse! We’ve found it so fun creating our favourite flavours, including an amazing brown-butter caramel drizzle (so, so good!) – but this is the first non-traditional one we’ve tried. We usually make an egg-custard base and go from there, but this is a cheat which involves no heat at all (which is wonderful, really, given it’s been too hot to consider cooking and baking recently). It’s super-simple, super-easy and only takes a few ingredients. Add in some of your time (most of it is spent waiting at the freezer until it’s ready!) and you’ve got some delicious vegan ice-cream that’s the perfect combination of indulgently creamy and refreshingly lime-y.

I’m not at all claiming that this is ‘healthy’ ice-cream, it’s still got heck of a lot of sugar and fat in it, but it does make my tummy happier than your standard dairy ice-cream whilst still being just as creamy and delicious. I also find the zingy-ness of the lime makes it super-refreshing and thirst-quenching, ideal on a hot day!

 photo Vegan Coconut and Lime Ice-Cream6_zpsnexmaszs.jpg photo Vegan Coconut and Lime Ice-Cream10_zpsddzzwabm.jpgRecipe (makes around 6 greedy servings)

  • 400ml coconut milk, shaken well
  • 2 limes, zest and juice
  • 60g sugar, caster is best here as it dissolves easier
  • Optional – some vegan yoghurt, just to increase the creaminess slightly

This recipe is really easy – simply mix all of the ingredients together, making sure the sugar is fully dissolved. Chill for thirty minutes, then churn in your ice-cream machine until frozen and ice-cream-like (around 20 minutes). Freeze until needed, and serve with extra lime zest. It’s also great served with gingerut biscuits!

If you don’t have an ice-cream maker, chill for around 3-4 hours, whisking every half an hour, then freeze until needed.

 photo Vegan Coconut and Lime Ice-Cream7_zpswdltgpal.jpgThis has become a real favourite recipe, and now I’m itching to try other coconut milk ice-creams. Next I’ll be doing a chocolate version, which I’m hoping will be like a frozen Bounty bar!

Have you tried making your own ice-cream?

Recipe: Lemon, Courgette & Kale Pasta

We all have that one dish in a restaurant that we always order, no matter what. Whilst in most places I do try to order something different each time, in Bella Italia I always, always go for the Pollo Siciliana.  Pasta tubes with chicken, courgette, and spinach in a creamy tarragon and lemon sauce, it’s zingy, indulgent and totally yummy. I always say I’ll try something else but I find it pretty irresistible!

 photo Lemon Courgette Pasta_zpsz0vx7np3.jpgIt’s also a dish I find myself craving quite often, but eating out costs pennies and this gal is saving for a wedding after all – so I made it myself. This one isn’t *quite* the same as the original, but it’s super quick to make and satisfies the craving. I’ve cut out the chicken to make it meat-free, and switched out the spinach for kale as I prefer the texture. I’ve also added peas to up the veg content. The result is a dish that’s super zingy with lemon and packed full of veg. I’ve kept the flavour intense by slowly frying garlic and dried tarragon, adding a splash of white wine and using the best quality pasta I could find. It’s relatively guilt-free too – with the cream limited to a single splash and no cheese added. The perfect mid-week meal!

 photo Green Vegetable Pasta with Lemon White Wine Sauce 5_zpsbglqmto5.jpg

 photo Green Vegetable Pasta with Lemon White Wine Sauce 5_zpsbglqmto5.jpg
Recipe (Serves 1)

  • 50g good quality pasta
  • 1 medium courgette
  • 2 handfuls kale, thick stems trimmed and discarded
  • 1 handful frozen peas
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
  • Pinch dried chilli flakes
  • Splash of white wine
  • Splash of cream (double or single works fine – as does creme fraiche, mascapone etc)

First up, slice the courgette thinly (around the thickness of a £1 coin). Fry in a little olive oil with some black pepper until starting to soften, then set aside. In the same pan add a little more olive oil, turn the heat down as low as possible and add the crushed garlic clove, the tarragon and the chilli. Allow to cook slowly for around 10 minutes, adding the lemon zest halfway through, whilst you boil the pasta and steam the kale.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and reserve a mug of the pasta water. Turn the heat up on the garlic and add the wine, before allowing to almost fully evaporate. Add in the pasta, steamed kale, peas and courgette, along with the lemon juice and plenty of black pepper. Toss together until the peas and defrosted and warmed through, adding pasta water if necessary to loosen. Stir through a splash of cream, and serve immediately. Ideally with a glass of wine and your favourite TV series.

 photo Green Vegetable Pasta with Lemon White Wine Sauce 2_zpsynlmk1na.jpg

 photo Green Vegetable Pasta with Lemon White Wine Sauce 4_zps88jc76na.jpgCourgettes are one of my favourite summer vegetables, and this is a great way of using them up. Next on my list is this recipe from Half Baked Harvest.

Do you have a go-to meal when eating out, or do you prefer to try something new?

Recipe: White Chocolate & Pretzel Cookies

These were dreamed up early on a Saturday morning. W was snoozing in bed, I was flicking through recipe books. I wanted to back, but I didn’t know what I wanted to bake. It had to be portable, as it was being dragged halfway across London to a BBQ. It needed to be quick and fairly easy, as I’m impatient. It needed to involve minimum baking time, as it’s far too hot in the UK right now to have your oven on for hours on end.

 photo White Choc amp Pretzel Cookies_zpsbyvwl3aj.jpg photo White Chocolate and Pretzel Cookies 25_zpsut9uyxfd.jpgCookies seemed like the obvious choice. But we *always* make cookies. And sure our cookies are delicious, but I wanted something new. Something different. Something a little unusual.

And so White Chocolate & Pretzel Cookies were born. A combination of creamy sweet white chocolate with a crunchy and salty hit from the pretzels, they skyrocketed straight into my top-cookie-spot. The sweet and salty flavours together go so well in the chewy cookie base, with the pretzels adding an amazing texture. I clearly wasn’t the only person who was a massive fan, as the 28 we took to the BBQ disappeared far too quickly, leaving only two left for us to enjoy the next day. Whoops. Basically, make a big batch.

 photo White Chocolate and Pretzel Cookies 21_zpsskyfiraa.jpg photo White Chocolate and Pretzel Cookies 23_zpswcscdcpf.jpgRecipe, makes roughly 30 large cookies (we used the same base recipe as we do for all of our cookies, it just works so well!)

  • 250g butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 250g soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 415g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp hot water (plus a little more if needed)
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 250g white chocolate – chopped into big chunks
  • 150g pretzels – roughly crushed, plus some whole ones for the top

Beat the butter slightly until soft, them cream together with the two types of sugar. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and gradually beat into the butter/sugar mix. Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the warm water, before adding to the mix along with the salt. Stir in the flour, followed by the chocolate and pretzels. Drop large spoonfuls (we used tablespoons) of the mix onto lined baking trays and roughly roll into a ball. Top each with a pretzel, pressing down lightly (don’t flatten). These cookies spread quite a lot, so avoid putting more than 5 or so on a tray.

Bake for around for 10 minutes at 180C, and allow to cool a little before transferring to a white rack to cool as much as you can bear before eating. I find these are perfect served with a glass of ice cold milk – cliched as it may be, but I do love milk and cookies!
 photo White Chocolate and Pretzel Cookies 14_zps3tttriaa.jpg

Are you a fan of sweet and salted foods?

 

Food: 5 Frittatas for Lunchboxes

One of my go-to lunchbox fillers is a frittata. High in protein from the eggs, they are super filling and can be completely adjusted to your tastes. Whether you want them to be lightened up and full of healthier ingredients, or go all out indulgent with plenty of cheese and potato, a frittata works well! They can also be pretty budget friendly, using up all the odds and ends in your fridge – although of course you could make the mother of all frittatas and add in some spendy ingredients such as smoked salmon…

I tend to have my go-to ‘base’ recipe for making a frittata, honed after far too many that were burnt on the botton, too solid, too liquidy, frittatas that were solid enough to use as a weapon, frittatas that fell apart before they even got to the office. You’ll need an oven-proof frying pan (mine is around 21 cm) for these recipes, though you could possibly oven-bake the whole thing in a dish.

Base Recipe (I usually cut the frittata into 3, unless it’s particularly carb/cheese heavy)

  • 1 tbsp butter (around 15g) or 1 tbsp oil
  • 6 eggs
  • 50ml milk

Generally, I’ll fry all my filling ingredients lightly in the oil/butter, before beating together the eggs, milk and parmesan with plenty of pepper and adding to the pan. I’ll keep on the hob for around 5 minutes on a low heat, then oven cook at 200C for 8-12 minutes or until cooked.

Potato, Shallot & Mozzarella

This is comfort food at it’s finest, and it’s blimmin’ delish! It’s from a fairly recent edition of Delicious Magazine so I can’t link it, but essentially sliced potatoes are fried until golden (around 20 minutes) with some sliced shallots and garlic added for the final few minutes. Eggs and milk are then added with parmesan mixed in, then mozzarella is nestled on top. Before oven-cooking a little more parmesan is sprinkled on top. Best served with a big salad as this one is super hearty!

Kale, Red Onion & Feta

This is my go-to low carb option, inspired by this BBCGoodFood recipe. Simply fry 2 red onions in a little oil until soft (I sometimes add a pinch on dried thyme), before adding around 3 handfuls of shredded kale. Stir fry for a couple of minutes, then add 2tbsp of balsamic and plenty of seasoning. Add your egg/milk mixture (I usually add 8 eggs for this one), then allow to cook on the hob for 5 minutes. Sprinkle generously with some crumbled feta, then bake for around 10 minutes.

Chorizo, Potato, Red Pepper & Feta

This is perfect picnic food, and my favourite way of using up leftover new potatoes (I always cook too many!). Simply fry some cubed chorizo in a dry pan until it releases its oils. Add some sliced cooked new potatoes, and try until starting to crisp slightly. Throw some roasted red pepper in, stir to combine, then add in your egg/milk mixture with some paprika (around 1/4 tsp). Cook for 5 minutes on the hob, then sprinkle with plenty of feta and bake for around 10 minutes. It’s also cook spiced up with some chopped chilli…

You can find my full recipe here.

Onion Bhaji

This one is the only one which I don’t think lasts quite as long – the others will happily sit in the fridge for 3 or 4 days, but this one does tend to go a bit grey after the second day. I’m thinking about making individual muffins instead so I can halve the recipe, but it’s not quite working out… Follow the recipe here, but I reduce the potato a little and add 1/2 tsp each of ground cumin, coriander, and turmeric as well as the curry powder.

Spaghetti, Spinach, Courgette & Pesto

This is my new favourite – so yum! It’s super filling so I usually only manage a quarter of it in my lunchbox with some extra salad, which makes it pretty thrifty. It’s slightly more mess-making than the others as it involves a couple of stages, but it’s well worth it.

First off, cook 150g spaghetti until just al dente (around 8 minutes). Drain and run under the cold tap to cool before setting aside. Blanch some spinach (I use 3 handfuls) by placing in a sieve and pouring over boiling water. Run under the cold tap to cool, then squeeze out the excess liquid and add to the spaghetti. Coarsely grate 2 medium courgettes, and squeeze out the excess water. Fry for 5 minutes with a little olive oil and 1 sliced garlic clove. Discard the garlic and add the courgette to the spaghetti/spinach along with 2 tsp of pesto. Stir together well. Meanwhile beat together the 6 eggs and 50ml milk with plenty of black pepper and 50g parmesan. Add this to the spaghetti and vegetables and use your hands to mix well. Melt a little butter in an oven proof frying pan, then add the egg-pasta mixture. Cook for 5 or so minutes until set on bottom, sprinkle with extra parmesan, then back until cooked. Yum!

What’s your go-to lunchbox filler?

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