Comforting Cottage Pie – serves 4

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One of my daughters likes to have this after swimming training, as it’s so warm and comforting.  It’s like a big hug in a dish. I like it served with steamed greens or peas.

500g lean minced beef
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 leek, trimmed and chopped finely
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 tbsp. tomato puree
500ml beef stock
1 ½ tsp. herbs de provence
1 tbsp. sweet chilli sauce
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
800g potatoes, peeled+ 2tbsp milk

  • Preheat the oven to 220C/Fan 200C/Gas 7.
  • Place the mince, onion, leeks and carrots into a large non stick pan and cook until lightly coloured, breaking up the mince with a wooden spoon to ensure it is well combined.
  • Add the tomato puree, beef stock, herbs and sweet chilli sauce and season with salt and plenty of black pepper.
  • Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Boil the potatoes in salted water until they are soft.  Drain and then pass them through a potato ricer.
  • Return the potato to the pan and then adding the milk stir briskly until fluffy.  Season with black pepper.
  • When the beef is cooked pour it into a baking dish, top with the mashed potatoes and bake for 25- 30 minutes until the top is golden and the filling is bubbling.
  •  Let the pie stand for 5 minutes or so, to cool a little before eating!

Cheats Cucumber and Mint Raita

Greek Yogurt

Cucumber, cut into small cubes
Mint Sauce

  • For this recipe you need to make your own judgments about quantity.  Just mix the ingredients together, tasting as you go, until it tastes perfect.  Don’t worry if you make too much, it keeps in the fridge for a couple of days.  It goes well with all spicy food.

Spicy Stuffed Peppers- Serves 6

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I have boxes of recipes that I have torn out of magazines over the years, probably enough to wallpaper my entire house and more!  This dish is inspired by one of those recipes.  It is by Vicky Bhogal, but I’m not sure which magazine it originates from.

It makes a very easy and economical supper. 

6 Yellow, orange or red peppers
4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into small chunks
75ml sunflower oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 onions, chopped finely
1 ½ tsp. chilli flakes
1 tsp. grated rot ginger
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
Handful fresh coriander, chopped

  • Gluten free naan bread and cucumber raita to serve.
  • Preheat oven 200C, fan180C or gas 6.
  • Boil the potatoes until soft (around 10 minutes), then drain.
  • Heat the oil in a large pan with the cumin seeds, 
  • When they are sizzling, add onions and fry gently until soft
  • Add chilli flakes, ginger, salt, garam masala, lemon zest and potatoes. Mix well.
  • Turn off the heat and mash roughly in the pan.
  • Add the coriander and mash again. Set aside.
  • Slice a small slither from the bottom of each pepper so that it will stand up right in a baking tray.
  • Cut the tops off the peppers and gently scoop out the membrane and seeds.  To get any stubborn seeds out, tap the peppers on the palm of your hand, cut side down.
  • Do not discard the stalks.
  • Stuff the peppers with the potato mixture, using your fingers to press in as much as possible. 
  • When they are full, pop the tops back on, so that they look like a whole pepper again.
  • Stand them upright in a baking tray or dish and drizzle with oil.
  • Bake for 40 minutes.

Serve with gluten free naan bread and cucumber and mint raita.

American Style Pancakes

Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday and while everyone else was enjoying pancakes, I thought I would only be able to spectate, as I hadn’t found a good gluten free substitute. I came across this recipe for gluten free American Pancakes just in the nick of time.  I also don’t have a frying pan at the moment so had to improvise with a cast iron flat casserole, which meant that there was more washing up than usual, but it really was worth the effort! I served the pancakes with Vanilla Ice Cream and fruit, oh, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Delicious!

The recipe serves 5, but that all depends on how much you can trust yourself not to eat the whole lot!

125g gluten free plain flour
1 tsp. gluten free baking powder
1/2tsp xanthan gum

½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. caster sugar
150ml milk (I used semi-skimmed)
2 medium eggs
15g melted butter

Vegetable oil for frying
Toppings of your choice

  • Mix the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum salt and sugar in a large bowl and mix well to combine.
  •  In a jug, beat together the eggs and milk.
  • Add to the dry ingredients, followed by the butter.
  • Beat until smooth and lump free, until it has a dropping consistency
  •  Heat a few drops of oil in a non-stick frying pan.
  • Using a dessertspoon, drop 3 rounds of batter into the pan (if your pan isn’t large enough do 2 rounds), so they spread to about 9cm in diameter. Reduce the heat.
  • After 2 minutes turn the pancake over with a spatula and cook the other side until golden brown and puffed up to about 1cm thick.
  • Layer the pancakes in greaseproof paper and wrap in a tea towel to keep warm. Make more pancakes until all the mixture is used up.
  • Top with whatever ingredients take your fancy.

Cheese and Onion Muffins- Makes 10

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I’ve never made savoury muffins before, but I wanted to try something different to go with soup.  I’m definitely a ‘convert’ now.  They smell wonderful and tasted even better!

They could also be served with some homemade chutney.

140g Mature Cheddar, grated
240ml Semi-Skimmed Milk
2 Eggs, beaten
75g Melted butter, cooled
280g Gluten free self-raising flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
5 spring onions chopped
½ tsp. Herbs de Provence
Salt and Pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 190c.
  • Line a muffin tin with 10 muffin cases.
  • Put the flour and xanthan gum into a bowl.
  • Mix the milk, eggs and butter together and mix well.
    (If the butter is added before it is cool enough it will began solidify. It happened to me-I was too impatient! If it does happen, don’t panic!  Heat very gently on the hob until it liquifies again. Not too much incase you make scrambled eggs!)
  • Pour the mixture into the flour and mix until just combined.
  • Stir in the cheese, spring onions, herbs and salt and pepper.
  • Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases (an ice cream scoop is about the right size).
  • Bake in the oven until risen and golden brown – around 15 minutes.
  • Serve warm. 

          They can be reheated for 5 minutes in the oven.

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Creamy Tomato Soup-serves 4

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1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
150g carrots chopped
250g potatoes, peeled and diced
2 bay leaves
2 ½ tbsp. tomato puree
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
250g passata (freeze the leftovers)
Pinch of chilli flakes
1 ½ gluten free stock cubes
500ml boiling water
200ml whole milk
Salt and pepper to season

  • Put the oil, onions, carrots, celery, potatoes and bay leaves in a large pan.
  • Cook gently until the onions have softened.
  • Stir in the tomato puree, sugar, vinegar, chopped tomatoes and passata, chilli flakes then crumble in the stock cubes.
  • Add the boiling water and bring the soup to the boil.
  • Simmer for 25 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Cook for a further 10 minutes if it needs its so it purees properly.
  • Remove bay leaves and cool slightly. Puree with as stick blender or in a food processor until it is very smooth, and pop it in a clean pan.
  • Add the milk, being careful not to boil it. (If you are not going to use it straight away don’t add the milk at this point, add it when you are reheating it prior to serving)
  • Season to taste, adding another pinch of sugar if it needs it.

 

This soup is best made the day before it is needed to allow the flavours to develop.

It can also be frozen for up to 3 months. (Add the milk when reheating)

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies- makes about 30

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I made these delicious cookies, by adapting a recipe from Food for Living, by Rachel Allen, so that they were gluten free. They lasted long enough to take the photos- and then they were gone!

100g crunchy peanut butter
100g butter, softened
125g light muscovado sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
125g plain chocolate, chopped
175g gluten free plain flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt

  • Preheat the oven to 180c
  • Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  • In a large bowl beat the peanut butter, softened butter, sugar and vanilla extract until soft and creamy.
  • Gradually beat in the egg and then add the chocolate.
  • Stir in the flour, xanthan gum bicarbonate of soda and salt until well mixed.
  • Using wet hands roll the mixture into balls about the size of a walnut, and then place them spaced well apart on a baking tray.
  • Bake for 12-16 minutes until lightly golden.
  • Carefully place the cookies on a wire rack to cool.
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Chicken with Lemon and Honey- Serves 4

cut-themustard:

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Like a lot of food lovers, I have a large collection of recipe books lining my bookshelves (bedside table, desk, kitchen shelves, coffee table- you get the picture!)

I tend to use favourite recipes over and over again and unless I’m entertaining, those recipe books remain on the shelves.  I recently vowed to look at all of my books, as I’m sure that there are some recipes that are worthy of joining the favourites list!

I found a book called ‘Food for Living’ by Rachel Allen on my shelves, and thought that I should try some of her recipes instead of just looking at the pictures (in the same kind of way that I ‘watch’ exercise DVD’s!)

I often adapt recipes to either make them gluten free or to use the ingredients I already have.  However some recipes shouldn’t be changed and certainly can’t be improved and Lemon Honey Chicken is one of those.  Not only does it look delicious, it smells wonderful as it is cooking!

4 chicken legs
2 lemons, juiced, save the lemons
2 tbsp. honey
Salt and pepper to taste
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Place the chicken pieces in a baking dish, skin side up.
  • Mix the lemon juice with the honey and pour over the chicken.  Place the remaining lemon in the baking dish with the chicken.
  • Season with salt and pepper and tuck the rosemary sprigs in between the chicken legs.
  • Bake in the oven for 40 minutes until golden.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven discarding the lemons.
  • Serve with rice or roast potatoes and green beans.

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Carrot and Coriander Soup- Serves 4

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This is a very delicious soup and is very simple to make. Perfect for a cold winter lunch, eaten in front of a roaring fire. Why would you want to buy ready-made?

25g butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
550g Carrots

450g roughly chopped
110g coarsely grated

1 litre vegetable stock
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1 tbsp. fresh coriander, chopped
100ml single cream

Salt and pepper to season (I use My Secret Kitchen Lemon & Chipotle 
Spiced Sea Salt, instead of salt

http://www.mysecretkitchen.co.uk/products/lemon-chipotle-spiced-salt.html)

Pinch of chilli flakes (if you like it spicy, otherwise leave them out, it still tastes good!)

To garnish: Natural yogurt 2tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

  • Melt the butter and cook the garlic and onion very gently until soft, but not coloured in a covered pan (about 10 minutes, but do check regularly).
  • Add the chopped carrots, stock and nutmeg.
  • Bring to the boil and cover pan.
  • Simmer gently for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Cool a little and then blend until smooth.  Return the soup to a clean saucepan with the chilli flakes, if using.
  • Stir in the grated carrots, coriander and cream. Season to taste.
  • Garnish with a swirl of yogurt (don’t worry if it sinks like mine did- add a little water to the yogurt, to thin it, and then it should stay on the top in a pretty pattern!).
  • Sprinkle with the coriander.
  • Serve in warmed bowls.