Tag Archives: supper

Bowl Food | 2 Ways With Rice

Bowl Food - 2 Ways With Rice. Simply Nigella Rice Bowl Recipe via Miranda's Notebook. A superbly easy dish for a fast weeknight supper recipe.

It must be the cold weather, as I find myself cooking warming, comforting bowlfuls of food so much more: stews, curries, creamy soups, porridge and rice bowls. January 2017 has been the month of me discovering the joys of a good rice bowl, and this easy dish has fast become my go-to weeknight recipe.

Bowl Food - 2 Ways With Rice. Simply Nigella Rice Bowl Recipe via Miranda's Notebook. A superbly easy dish for a fast weeknight supper recipe.

I first discovered the basic recipe in Simply Nigella, and was instantly attracted by the bright colours of roasted pink radishes and fleshy green avocado. Nigella’s attitude towards this dish is reassuringly laid-back, stating ‘the only constant is the rice.’

You’re free to throw in pretty much whatever you have in your fridge and experiment with your own variations, which I’ve been doing. Having such a large degree of flexibility is a great way to stop a standard dish becoming boring. I’ve used different types of meat & fish, kept it vegetarian and roasted whatever vegetables I’ve had to hand (broccoli and baby aubergines are favourites). I’ve played with the flavours, sometimes swapping out the East Asian influences of soya and ginger and going for homemade Italian pesto instead.

Here, though, is the basic Simply Nigella rice bowl recipe (with my own tweaks given as well):

Easy Rice Bowl (serves 2)

3/4 cup short grain brown rice (I use a great cooking cheat here, by buying precooked brown rice from Sainsburys. All you do is pop the package in the microwave for 2 minutes, and you’re done)
1 cup cold water (not needed if you do my cheat above)
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled (Nigella clearly loves her ginger! This really depends on your taste – I only use a thin sliver per bowl, finely chopped, and find that adds enough gingery kick for me. Experiment to find your own preference!)
4-6 radishes (I usually roast more than this, as I love radishes)
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2 tsp organic raw apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup mixed seeds, such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or sesame seeds
3-4 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 small ripe avocado

1/ If you’re cooking the rice yourself, put the rice and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it’s bubbling, put on the lid, turn the heat down very low, and simmer for 25 minutes. Then turn off the heat, keeping the lid on, and let it stand for a further 5 minutes (honestly, though, just use my cheat!).

2/ While the rice is cooking (or before bunging it in the microwave), peel a small piece of ginger and cut it finely. Cut the radishes into quarters or eighths lengthways, depending on their size. Put them on a baking tray, sprinkle over some olive oil and roast in a hot (about 220 C) oven for 10 minutes or so – make sure you check on them so they don’t burn. If you’re short on time, you don’t have to roast the radishes – they’re nice raw too.

3/When the rice is cooked, spoon into a mixing bowl. Add the tamari or soy sauce and the apple cider vinegar to the bowl and toss with a fork to combine, and then do the same with the ginger, radishes, and seeds. Stir all but a little of the chopped cilantro into the rice.

4/Divide between 2 smallish bowls and top with avocado, either cut into strips or chunks. Sprinkle each with the remaining cilantro, and enjoy! I also like to top mine with some cooked ham, a fried egg, or even some white crab-meat or prawns. In the words of Gwyneth Paltrow, it’s all good!

Bowl Food - 2 Ways With Rice. Finnish Rice Porridge recipe via Miranda's Notebook. A delicious, comforting dish for a weekend brunch.

Another rice-centric dish I’ve discovered, which makes an excellent weekend breakfast, is Finnish rice porridge. Jamie Oliver has a recipe for it in his recent Christmas cookbook, but I was inspired by a Finnish instagrammer I follow, who posted a recipe for rice porridge on her account. I made a few changes myself, adding a little flavouring of rose water, which I thought was rather nice. Also, quite frankly I wasn’t so keen on the hours and hours of cooking and stirring, so I used the microwave to shortcut the process. Here’s my recipe:

Finnish Rice Porridge (serves 2)

50g pudding rice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ½ cups evaporated milk
1 cup water
¼ teaspoon rose water
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/Place all ingredients in a large glass bowl, cover with clingfilm (leaving a small gap for steam to escape) and place in microwave. Cook on full power for 8 minutes (or until boiling), then remove and stir well. Recover with clingfilm and cook on low power for 20 minutes.

2/Next, place the mixture in a cast iron saucepan over low heat and stir frequently until you get a creamy, rice-pudding consistency (approximately 20-30 minutes).

3/Spoon into two bowls and serve with whatever toppings you like: I suggest strawberry jam, fresh berries and toasted almonds and/or seeds.

Bowl Food - 2 Ways With Rice. Finnish Rice Porridge recipe via Miranda's Notebook. A delicious, comforting dish for a weekend brunch.

What types of comfort food to you like to make this time of year?

Weekday Suppers | Spelt Risotto with Beetroot and Goat Cheese

Spelt Risotto with Beetroot, Goat Cheese, Mint and Hazelnut. Click through for the full recipe and to see variations for making this dish gluten free and vegan.

Let me introduce you to one of my new very favourite recipes: spelt risotto with beetroot, goat cheese, hazelnut and mint. I first discovered this recipe in Lorraine Pascal’s Eating Well Made Easy, and since then I’ve been tweaking it and making my own variation about once a week. It’s a fantastic weekday meal, as it doesn’t take too long to pull together, the ingredients are easy to pick up and it’s a satisfying and nutritious dish. I love the sweetness of the beetroot combined with the earthiness of the grain and saltiness of the cheese: it’s a pretty sublime flavour combination!

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been trying to be a lot more organised over meal planning, and I’ve figured out a system that works well for me. Saturday mornings, I pull out some cookbooks, mark the recipes I want to make in the week with postcards, write my grocery list and place an Ocado order. I don’t have a strict day-by-day meal plan, but rather go by sell-by dates and which ingredients need to be used up first. A big shift I’ve made recently is to try to include more vegetarian dishes in my weekly meal plans (I think there’s a lot of sense in Michael Pollen’s quote ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’), and I’ve been really pleased that I’ve discovered some recipes that don’t make me miss meat at all (and I’m the biggest carnivore out there). I would find it impossible very difficult to be strictly vegetarian, but it’s both healthier and more economical to swap gradually to a greater degree of plant-based eating, so I’m pleased to be making this shift.

Spelt Risotto with Beetroot, Goat Cheese, Mint and Hazelnut. Click through for the full recipe and to see variations for making this dish gluten free and vegan.

Another easy change I’ve made to my meal-planning is to make some basic swaps with food: instead of pasta, I generally use spiralised butternut squash or courgette (which I buy already spiralised from Tesco or M&S – such a time-saver!), and instead of regular risotto rice, I use barley, spelt or short-grain brown rice. I think this recipe works especially well with pearlised spelt or pearl barley; I’ve tried it with brown rice too, but it takes much longer to absorb liquid and is less creamy. However, if you’ve only got brown rice in the house, it’s still a good option (just allow yourself extra stirring time!), and it’s worth remembering that brown rice is gluten free, whereas spelt and barley aren’t. You can also make this recipe vegan by leaving out the goat’s cheese: the cheese definitely adds a nice tang, but this would still be a delicious meal without it. Feel free to adapt this recipe to whatever you have in the house: instead of flaked hazelnuts, pine nuts are great, and sometimes I use feta instead of goat’s cheese.

Spelt Risotto with Beetroot, Goat Cheese, Mint and Hazelnut. Click through for the full recipe and to see variations for making this dish gluten free and vegan.

Weekday Suppers | Spelt Risotto with Beetroot and Goat Cheese
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
A delicious recipe that is perfect for a weeknight supper, but is still good enough to serve for a dinner party. To make this recipe Gluten Free, use short grain brown rice rather than spelt (but allow for extra stirring time - brown rice absorbs water more slowly), and to make it Vegan, leave out the goat cheese.

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 450g cooked beetroot (you can find this vac-packed in supermarkets - just make sure you don't buy the vinegared type!)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Leaves from two sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
  • 300g pearlised spelt, short grain brown rice, or barley
  • 1 litre good quality vegetable stock
  • 100g goat's cheese
  • Leaves from ½ bunch of fresh mint, loosely torn or chopped
  • 25g toasted, sliced hazelnuts or pine nuts
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a low-medium heat. Cook the onion for about 10 minutes until really soft.
  2. As the onion cooks, put the beetroot in a blender and puree until as smooth as possible. Set aside.
  3. Add the garlic and rosemary to the softened onion and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the pearlised spelt (or whichever grain you're using) and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Add a ladleful of stock and stir until is has been absorbed by the spelt. Continue to gradually add the rest of the stock, stirring and allowing time for the spelt to absorb the liquid before adding more. This generally takes about 30 minutes.
  4. When all the stock has been added, stir in the beetroot and season with salt and pepper to taste. Warm through for a couple of minutes, then spoon the risotto onto dishes and crumble over the goat's cheese. Scatter over the mint leaves and nuts and serve.
  5. Enjoy!

 

What are some of your favourite weekday suppers? Have you been making any changes to the way you eat lately?

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My Day at Le Cordon Bleu

My Day at Le Cordon Bleu | Miranda's Notebook

I was so excited to be invited by Le Cordon Bleu to attend their Creative Vegetables course on Saturday, as a chance to learn more about the famous cooking school and the current scholarship they are offering for their Diplome de Patisserie & Diploma in Culinary Management (all the wannabe bakers / chefs / cookbook writers out there, do take note!!). I’ll give more details on the scholarship below, but for now let me take you step-by-step through what a cookery class experience really is like at Le Cordon Bleu.

I’ve always thought it would be marvellous to do one of Le Cordon Bleu’s day courses, but had also thought the experience would be rather intimidating! I pictured temperamental chefs barking commands and me huddled over a chopping board in terror, bleating the occasional ‘yes chef!’ Happily for me, this couldn’t be further from my experience on the Creative Vegetables course. I’d picked this course, as I’ve been steadily trying to cook healthier meals at home over the past few months (nothing too complicated or restrictive, simply incorporating more vegetables and grains into my dishes), and I felt this would be the perfect opportunity to learn how to make vegetables more exciting. I was not disappointed!

My Day at Le Cordon Bleu | Miranda's Notebook

I’d got up at 6am on Saturday, to ensure I was walking through the doors of Le Cordon Bleu at 7.40am, in time for a prompt 8am start. The school is situated near Holborn station, overlooking peaceful and leafy Bloomsbury Square. It was thrilling to be arriving at a place I’d read about so often and holds such an impressive culinary history. Founded originally in Paris in 1895, Le Cordon Bleu grew to become one of the world’s most prestigious cookery schools, attracting many of the biggest names in food history (Julia Child joined in 1950). Now the school has a network of locations all around the world, and the London campus has its own impressive lineage from when it was first founded in 1931 by two former students of Le Cordon Bleu Paris.

My Day at Le Cordon Bleu | Miranda's NotebookMy Day at Le Cordon Bleu | Miranda's NotebookMy Day at Le Cordon Bleu | Miranda's Notebook

Once I’d arrived, my group were soon whisked upstairs to be introduced to the lovely Chef Eric, who led our workshop, and to receive our Le Cordon Bleu aprons, tea-towels and recipe books that we would use for the day (and got to take home – hurrah!). After donning our aprons, we gathered in the spacious kitchen, each standing in front of our own gleaming workspaces, laid out neatly with all the equipment and ingredients we would need for the day.

I think everyone felt a little nervous at first, but Chef Eric, alongside his very friendly and encouraging assistants, Jane and Marjory, soon put everyone at ease. We were told the dishes we’d learn how to make that day: Honey Spiced Pumpkin Pastilla; Quinoa Salad with Crunchy Vegetables and Carrot and Hazelnut Vinaigrette; Egg Free Fresh Pasta with Yellow Courgette and Basil and Pistachio Pesto and finally Pearl Barley Stew with Oyster Mushrooms, Broccoli and Baby Spinach. We had a busy day ahead! Time to get cracking.

My Day at Le Cordon Bleu | Miranda's Notebook My Day at Le Cordon Bleu | Miranda's NotebookMy Day at Le Cordon Bleu | Miranda's Notebook My Day at Le Cordon Bleu | Miranda's Notebook

We started with the pumpkin and chickpea pastilla. Everything was prepared and cooked in stages: Chef Eric talked us through each step, demonstrating what we had to do, and then we went off to do it ourselves, with Jane and Marjory keeping an eye on us, like two culinary fairy godmothers (if a magic genie were to pop up and grant a wish, I would definitely ask for Marjory and Jane to be forever at my side in the kitchen). I was rather nervous at first, as I felt the other students were rather more experienced in the kitchen than me: many of them had attended cooking workshops before, and I think I was the only novice at using a pasta machine! However, I managed to keep up, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The class was still suitable for beginners, and I was thrilled with everything I produced.

My Day at Le Cordon Bleu | Miranda's Notebook My Day at Le Cordon Bleu | Miranda's Notebook^^ Chef Eric’s work of art

Mine certainly lacked some finesse (I don’t think I’ll be giving up the day job just yet!), but I was still proud of my efforts (having had zero experience in plating before), and it certainly tasted delicious:

My Day at Le Cordon Bleu | Miranda's Notebook^^ My attempt, confirming presentation has never been my strong point…

We got to enjoy a 1/2 hour break to eat our pastilla and quinoa salad for lunch, and oh my goodness, were they good! I’m sure I’ll be sharing some variation of each recipe on the blog at some point, because I can tell I’m going to be making these dishes many times over. The pastilla had the most wonderful flavours (the sweetness and spice were blended perfectly), and I loved the fabulous texture and colour the raw vegetables gave to the quinoa salad (the accompanying carrot vinaigrette truly made the dish). Chef Eric gave so many great tips and tricks during the day too: I wish I’d had time to write them all down, but the cooking kept me busy!! It was fascinating to learn some proper knife skills though, as well as how to bring extra colour and crunch to vegetables (once they’re prepared, let them soak for a bit in ice and water), and just being able to watch a true chef at work was wonderful.

My Day at Le Cordon Bleu | Miranda's Notebook My Day at Le Cordon Bleu | Miranda's Notebook^^ Showing off some chopping skills (I was just happy I managed to keep all my fingers intact!!)

After finishing our lunch and having a little rest, it was back to the kitchen to whip up some homemade pasta. I think this dish was possibly my very favourite from the day! In the past, I’d always thought making pasta would be rather fiddly and a waste of time (you can just buy it, after all), but I absolutely loved the whole process and was surprised by how easy it really is.

We started by making a dough out of only three ingredients: 400g semolina, 40ml olive oil and 180ml water. You make a well in the middle of the semolina, add the oil and water and mix it with your hands, bringing it together to form a dough. Work the dough a little, kneading it until smooth, then wrap in clingfilm and allow to rest in the fridge for 1/2 an hour. Then, roll the dough out into a rectangle and start the process of feeding it into a pasta machine before cutting it in to tagliatelle.

My Day at Le Cordon Bleu | Miranda's Notebook My Day at Le Cordon Bleu | Miranda's Notebook^^ Some of the students made spaghetti as well as tagliatelle!

 We topped the tagliatelle with some lightly fried courgette and a truly declicious pistachio and basil pesto sauce and got to have a little taste before moving onto our final dish: barley stew.

My Day at Le Cordon Bleu | Miranda's Notebook

We didn’t dish up this plate, but instead packed it into a box to take home (along with loads of other leftovers). Mum and I thoroughly enjoyed it the next day!

I honestly had the most wonderful day at Le Cordon Bleu, and if you were considering signing up for a course, I highly recommend it! The other people on it were lovely too – I enjoyed chatting to a couple who were over from Geneva for a foodie long weekend in London and had signed up for the course as part of the fun.

Also, as promised, here are the details for the Le Cordon Bleu scholarship in London. I had more than half-seriously considered applying myself  – it’s such an amazing opportunity ( and apparently you really don’t need any culinary experience to apply – just a love of food and a willingness to learn) – but I don’t think it’s the right time in my life at the moment. However, for those who may be interested, it’s worth knowing that the application process is very simple: all you have to do is prepare a short video about the culinary delights of your county / city in the UK, post a photo on instagram of your favourite British cake or pastry with the hashtags #AlliNeedIsPassion and #lecordonbleulondons, answer a short question on why you’re an ideal candidate for Le Cordon Bleu, send in the application and voila, you’re done! If you end up being the lucky recipient, then you’ll receive free accommodation in London, a place on the Diplome de Patisserie, as well as the Diploma in Culinary Management and an internship under the widely renowned chef Clare Smyth. So if you’ve ever dreamed of pursuing a career in food, I’d say this is your chance: take it! For more information and how to apply, check out the website (please note the scholarship is only open to UK residents aged 18+).

I would absolutely love to know – have any of you ever done a Le Cordon Bleu course? Do you want to? Are you tempted to apply for the scholarship, or do you know anyone who might be keen? If you are thinking of applying, I wish you the very best of luck!

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Cheddar Cheese Risotto | The Ultimate Comfort Food

Cheddar Cheese Risotto | The Ultimate Comfort Food

Whenever I’m asked if I have a signature dish, I always say the same thing: risotto. And this cheddar cheese risotto specifically. I know cheddar cheese sounds an unlikely (and not at all Italian) ingredient, but trust me, it makes the creamiest, tastiest risotto EVER. This recipe is based on one from Nigella Lawson’s Nigelissima, but I’ve been making my own version of it for years now. Recently, I adapted it still further by adding toppings of roasted root vegetables and pieces of crispy pancetta. These additions have, in my humble opinion, made the dish even more delicious (and Dad – if you’re reading this, don’t worry – I’ll make this version next time you’re in London!).

I love this risotto because it’s so easy-going – I never measure out ingredients (although I did for the purpose of writing this recipe!), but rather judge it all by eye. I know people get nervous about making risotto, but honestly it’s not really hard at all. There’s just two tricks to it: 1. use a lot more liquid than you’ll think you’ll need and 2. don’t get impatient – just keep stirring (and pour yourself a glass of wine whilst you’re at it).

When I lived in Hampstead, I had what could definitely qualify for a world’s smallest kitchen competition. There was no oven, so I became very practiced at everything that could be made on a single hob, in confined quarters. Risotto was my favourite thing to cook, and I would regularly make up a big pot for family and friends (as you may have gathered, my Dad loves this recipe!). Now, I’m afraid it’s definitely not low on calories, but it’s the perfect meal for a cold winter’s day when you’re craving a warm bowl of carbs (and we all have to indulge sometimes).

Cheddar Cheese Risotto | The Ultimate Comfort Food

Cheddar Cheese Risotto | The Ultimate Comfort Food
Author: 
Serves: 4 as a starter or 2 hungry adults as a main
 
The ultimate comfort food dish.

Ingredients
  • 4 green onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 oz butter
  • 150g grated cheddar cheese
  • 250g risotto rice
  • 200g rainbow carrots (or any root vegetable of your choice)
  • ½ cup white wine.
  • 1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 litre hot vegetable stock (I use 1 vegetable stock cube and pour over boiling water)
  • 3-4 slices of pancetta, baked in oven until crispy
  • Chives to garnish (optional)
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Set the oven to 220 C. Place the rainbow carrots on a baking tray and drizzle over a small amount of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the green onions, stirring for a couple of minutes until cooked. Add the risotto rice and stir around for a few minutes until coated in the butter and onions (be careful the rice doesn't stick to the pan). Add the ½ cup white wine (or I generally fill up a wine glass ½ - ¾ full and tip that in) and cook for a few minutes. Mix in the mustard. Slowly, start to add the hot vegetable stock, 1 ladleful at a time, allowing the rice to soak up the liquid before adding more each time (just keep stirring away!).
  3. At this point, put the carrots in the oven and cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the carrots and golden and tender.
  4. When all the stock is added to the risotto, stir in the cheddar cheese until melted. Spoon the risotto into bowls and top with he vegetables, pancetta and a scattering of chopped chives if desired.
  5. Enjoy!

 

What’s your signature dish? Have you ever tried making risotto before?

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Rachel Khoo’s Provençal Roast Chicken

Rachel Khoo Provençal Roast Chicken | Miranda's Notebook

Roast chicken is one of my favourite meals. I often do a roast on a Sunday, so that I have lots of yummy leftovers to use for packed lunches throughout the week. When I saw Rachel Khoo’s recipe for Provençal roasted chicken in her latest cookbook, I knew I had to make it. The dish encompasses so many of my favourite ingredients: olives, fennel, preserved lemons and alcohol! The rich, earthy flavours transport you to the endless sunny days and hot, dusty streets of the South of France. Honestly, if you’re planning a roast on Sunday – make it this one!

Rachel Khoo Provençal Roast Chicken | Miranda's Notebook Rachel Khoo Provençal Roast Chicken | Miranda's Notebook

I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit: for instance, the original called for white wine, which I didn’t have in, so instead I used a dry sherry which worked very well. I’ve also used less fennel and a bit more onion. I like to serve this dish with a simple bean salad. Here’s my version of the recipe below:

Rachel Khoo's Provençal Roast Chicken
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A delicious chicken dish, with all the flavours of the South of France - perfect for al fresco summer dining!

Ingredients
  • 1.5kg chicken (whole range is best)
  • 2 bulbs of fennel, quartered and the tough stems removed
  • 3 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 50g sultanas
  • 100ml dry sherry
  • 100ml water
  • a knob of soft butter
  • sea salt
  • For the stuffing:
  • 100g pitted green olives
  • 5 preserved lemons, drained, halved and pips removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 15g fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C (180 C fan).
  2. In a food processor, blend the olives, preserved lemons, garlic, parsley and salt to a paste. Using your fingers, loosen the skin above the breast and legs of the chicken and push in the stuffing (making sure not to break the skin).
  3. Place the fennel and onions in a large roasting tin and scatter on the sultanas. Pour the sherry and water into the tin and then place the chicken on top of the vegetables.
  4. Rub the butter into the skin of the chicken and scatter on some sea salt. Roast breast side up for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  5. Once the chicken has cooked, remove the tin from the oven and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.
  6. To serve, spoon the roasting tin juices over the chicken and vegetables.
  7. Enjoy!

 

What are your favourite chicken recipes? Have you tried any recipes from Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook?

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Sea Bass with Mustard and Capers

sea bass with mustard and capers recipe

Like most people, I’m a huge fan of suppers that take hardly any time to make, especially on a week night. I love to eat fish, but for some reason don’t cook it as often as I’d wish at home. I’m gradually trying to incorporate more easy fish dishes into my repertoire, and this dish is one of my favourites. The tang of the mustard and the saltiness of the capers pair beautifully with the sea bass, but what’s truly wonderful about this meal is how easy (and fast!) it is to pull together. Simply steam a few new potatoes, boil some peas (add a bit of chopped mint and butter), whip up your sauce and you’re good to go! If you don’t like fish, then I’d suggest substituting boneless turkey breasts or boneless pork chops, thinned and flattened by banging between two sheets of greaseproof paper with a rolling pin.

sea bass with mustard and capers recipe sea bass with mustard and capers recipe sea bass with mustard and capers recipe

Can you recommend any easy fish recipes you think I’d enjoy? I’d love to know what your favourites are!

Seabass with Mustard and Capers
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A quick, tasty fish dish that's perfect for a weeknight supper.
Ingredients
  • 4 (8-ounce) sea bass fillets
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces creme fraiche
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 2 teaspoons drained capers
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 220° C.
  2. Line a baking dish with parchment paper. Place the fish fillets skin side down on the dish. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Combine the creme fraiche, both mustards, dill, capers, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure the fish is completely covered.
  4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until it's barely done. (The fish will flake easily at the thickest part when it's done.) Be sure not to overcook it!
  5. Serve hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned over the top.

 

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The Healthy Pizza Bake Off

Healthy Pizza Recipes | Miranda's Notebook

Having recently purchased Deliciously Ella and A Modern Way to Eat, I’ve been very much enjoying browsing through both cookbooks (am I the only under 30 year old who considers flicking through cookbooks whilst taking a relaxing hot bath the ultimate weeknight treat? I think I know the answer to that…). My interest was sparked when I noticed each cookbook contained a recipe for a ‘healthy’ pizza, i.e. one that wasn’t made with traditional pizza dough, but instead used some kind of substitute for a bread base. In A Modern Way to Eat, the ‘dough’ was made using cauliflower, oats and eggs, whereas Deliciously Ella’s base was made from quinoa.

Now, I love pizza, but I have to admit I tend to eat it only as a fairly occasional treat. For one thing, delicious as homemade pizza is, it’s not a dish you can pull together in under an hour, and it’s not too kind on the waistline either. I was excited to learn of not just one, but two, healthy, less-time consuming versions of a favourite meal, so I thought I’d give them both a try and see which I liked the best.

Healthy Pizza Recipes | Miranda's Notebook

First up was Anna Jones’ version. I have to say that initially this recipe appealed to me the most, as I loved the idea of using cauliflower as the main ingredient for the pizza ‘dough.’ I’m always keen to get as many veggies as possible into a dish! I adapted Anna’s recipe to suit what I had in my larder and fridge. Here’s my version:

Anna Jones’ Pizza

Ingredients:

For the Pizza Base:
1 medium cauliflower, cut into big chunks
100g ground almonds
100g oats
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon herbes de provence
salt and pepper
2 eggs, beaten
olive oil for greasing paper

For the Topping:
200g tomato sauce
large bunch of fresh basil
1 ball of fresh mozzarella
1/2 a bag of rocket leaves
100g black pitted olives
parmesan cheese, for grating over top

1/ Preheat oven to 220°C / fan 200° C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Oil the paper with olive oil.

2/ Put the chopped cauliflower in the food processor and blend until it has a fine, rice-like quality.

3/ Put the cauliflower in a mixing bowl and add the ground almonds, oats, oregano, herbes de provence, salt and pepper and mix with your hands.

4/ Make a well in the middle and add the eggs. Mix it all together, then use your hands to form a ball (the mixture will be a lot wetter and less firm than traditional pizza dough).

5/ Put the dough in the middle of the oiled baking paper and use your hands to press it down and out to fit the size of the tray. It should be about 0.5cm thick (slightly thicker at the edges).

6/ Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until just golden.

7/ Remove the pizza from the oven once cooked and turn oven up to 240°C / fan 220°C. Add the toppings: spread on tomato sauce, and top with mozzarella, rocket and basil (leaving some basil aside to scatter on at end). Drizzle with a little more olive oil and put the pizza back in the oven to cook for another 8 minutes, or until toppings are cooked.

8/ Once cooked, finish the pizza with the remaining basil leaves and a good grating of parmesan.

Healthy Pizza Recipes | Miranda's Notebook

A Modern Way to Eat Recipe Pros:

1/ The recipe was super speedy to pull together and required no previous preparation.

2/ The strong cauliflower taste of the base took a little getting used to at first, but when I did I liked it a lot.

3/ The recipe made a generous amount, enough for 4 people. I used up the leftovers by having slices of it cold with salad for my packed lunches during the week.

A Modern Way to Eat Recipe Cons:

1/ Although surprisingly tasty, I had a hard time convincing myself this dish in anyway resembled pizza. The texture of the base was just too different.

2/ The base was very crumbly and difficult to slice (it also stuck a lot to the paper, even though I’d greased it as required). It cut a lot better when it was cold, and in fact in many ways I preferred it cold, crumbled a little over a salad.

3/ Because of the eggs used in the ‘dough,’ I wouldn’t be able to serve this dish to vegan friends.

Healthy Pizza Recipes | Miranda's Notebook

After mixed feelings over this pizza, I was curious to compare the Deliciously Ella one. Again, I tweaked her recipe to suit what I had in my cupboards, and in the interests of a straight-forward comparison, I kept the toppings almost the same as in the previous pizza recipe (minus the basil, as I’d run out!). Here’s my version:

Deliciously Ella’s Pizza

Ingredients:

For the Pizza Base:
3/4 mug (195g) quinoa
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon herbes de provence
salt
olive oil, for greasing

For the Topping:
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
handful of pitted black olives
1/2 ball fresh mozzarella
handful of fresh rocket.

1/ Soak the quinoa overnight (or for about 8 hours) in cold water by placing the quinoa in a large bowl and covering it with a few centimetres of water. Leave to one side.

2/ When ready to make the pizza,preheat oven to 210°C / fan 190° C and line the bottom of a shallow 20cm pizza pan or cake tin with olive oil.

3/ Drain off any water left in the quinoa bowl, then put the quinoa in a food processor, along with the apple cider vinegar, herbs and salt. Blend for several minutes until a smooth batter forms – it should look a bit like pancake batter.

4/ Pour the mix into the 20cm pan, then bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the base is firm.

5/ Remove from the oven and add the tomato sauce, mozzarella and olives. Place back into the oven for a few minutes until the cheese melts, then remove and add a large handful of fresh rocket. 

Healthy Pizza Recipes | Miranda's Notebook

 Deliciously Ella Recipe Pros:

1/ This recipe was a lot more convincing as a dish resembling pizza. The quinoa base was surprisingly reminiscent of pizza dough and was easy to slice.

2/ Although the quinoa base didn’t have a lot of flavour, I actually preferred it that way as I felt it made it a better vehicle for the pizza toppings as it didn’t detract from their flavour.

3/ Discounting the time for the quinoa to soak, this recipe was very quick to pull together.

4/ It would be easy to adapt this recipe for vegan friends – simply leave off any cheese toppings and opt for more veggies instead.

Deliciously Ella Recipe Cons:

1/ You do have to remember to soak the quinoa overnight, which means this can’t be a ‘spur of the moment’ dish, but at least the preparation is minimal!

2/ I would say the recipe is really only enough for 1 person. You would definitely need to double it for two. It does, though, have the cute factor as small, round pizzas do look very pretty!

To sum up, then, although I enjoyed both recipes, I thought the Deliciously Ella version won out! The results surprised me, as, like I said at the beginning, I’d been especially keen to try Anna Jones’ recipe. Much as I enjoyed it though, I felt the cauliflower base was too crumbly and its strong flavour would clash with many different toppings. I felt the milder taste of the Deliciously Ella base made it more versatile, and I liked the way it cut so easily and had more of a ‘bready’ texture.

Have you tried either of these recipes? Or another variant of a ‘healthy’ pizza dough? I’d love to know what you thought if so!

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Crab Chili Risotto

crabrisotto1

Whether in a relationship or single, I always find one of the nicest ways to enjoy Valentine’s Day is to celebrate at home over a lovely meal. Even though  I’m currently single, I’m really looking forward to cooking this Crab Chili Risotto with a friend on Saturday. Risotto is always a favourite dish of mine to make, and this version with crab makes it perfect for a special evening. It’s also a great meal to cook with someone else, as the process of gently stirring the rice in the pan is much more enjoyable when you can chat to someone else and sip some wine together.

I’ve adapted this recipe from one in Nigella Lawson’s Nigellissima; one of the alterations I’ve made is I’ve included samphire (a sea vegetable similar to asparagus) which I love and feel goes especially well with crab, but of course you could leave this out if you wish.

 Crab Chili Risotto (Serves 2)

Ingredients:

1 litre light chicken stock (made up to half strength)
1/4 teaspoon saffron strands
2 x 15ml olive oil
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 fresh red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 glove garlic crushed
200g risotto rice
75ml dry white wine
100g brown crabmeat
100g white crabmeat
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon, plus 1/2 lemon to serve
salt and pepper to taste
good handful of samphire
2 handfuls of rocket (plus a little extra for garnish)

1/ Make up the stock, adding the strands of saffron, and put in a saucepan over a low heat to keep hot.

2/ Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based pan with a lid, and when warm add the spring onion, chili and garlic. Cook over a low heat for a minute or so (take care not to let the garlic burn).

3/ Turn the heat up and add the rice, stirring it into the chili and onions.

4/ Add the white wine and let this bubble up and be absorbed into the rice. Now add a ladleful of the hot, tinted stock and cook, stirring all the while, until it too is absorbed.

5/ Turn the heat down and add a ladleful of stock at a time, stirring (whilst sipping on wine and chatting) until each ladleful at a time is absorbed by the rice. Don’t rush this part – it will probably take about 20 minutes.

6/ Take the pan off the heat, add the crabmeat and the lemon zest and juice and stir, then taste for seasoning. Now, stir in the samphire and rocket leaves, put the lid on and, with the pan still off the heat, let it stand for a few minutes until the leaves have wilted.

7/ Divide the risotto into 2 bowls, garnish with a few more rocket leaves and a quarter of lemon each (squeeze this over just before eating), pour yourselves some wine (I like something pink and sparkly with this) and enjoy!

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I’ll be sharing a recipe for my ideal Valentine dessert in couple of days too, so do check back for that! I’m curious to know – what are your plans for Valentine’s Day this year? Are you a fan of going out, or do you too prefer to stay in and keep it casual? Whatever the case, I hope you all have a lovely day!

Quick and Easy Weekday Supper

easypasta

Monday evening is especially busy for me, and I’m always grateful for a quick and easy weekday supper recipe that can be pulled together practically before I’ve taken my coat off, but still tastes delicious. This pasta bake recipe is perfect for nights when you’ve had a long day and don’t want to think too much about supper. Happily, too, it can be made primarily from pantry staples, so there’s no need to stop by the grocery store on your way home. You really can be flexible with the ingredients for this and can adapt it to whatever suits you best.

Quick and Easy Pasta Bake (serves 4)

Ingredients

I red (or white) onion, finely chopped
2 gloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 red chili pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons chopped flat parsley (or whatever herb you happen to have to hand)
400g can artichoke hearts, drained, well-rinsed and roughly chopped
410g can evaporated milk
125g cream cheese
75g parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup of dry breadcrumbs

1/ Butter an approx. 30 x 20 cm casserole dish and preheat oven to 180° fan.

2/ Bring generous saucepan of salted water to boil. Add 1/2 packet (250g) amori spiral pasta or macaroni.Cook for 10 minutes, or until al dente.

3/ Whilst the pasta is cooking, melt butter and olive oil together in a cast iron pot, then add in the onion, garlic, celery, pepper and chili and fry until soft.

4/ Add chopped artichokes and allow to cook for another 2 minutes.

5/ Then add the can of evaporated milk and cream cheese and bring to boil, stirring so no lumps of cream cheese are left. Leaving aside a handful of the parmesan, add the rest to the pot mixture, along with the parsley. Stir until well combined, then add the cooked and drained pasta.

6/ Pour everything into the buttered casserole dish. Mix the remaining handful of parmesan with the bread crumbs and scatter overtop. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbling.

Do you have any weeknight recipe standbys?

Cheese, Ham and Leek Crêpes

crepes2

Much as January is generally Diet Time, sometimes you still just have to have a meal that falls under the Comfort Food category. It is still winter, after all, and it’s cold out there! At times when I feel very gloomy indeed at the thought of eating yet another lettuce leaf, this recipe for cheese, ham and leek crêpes reminds me that life isn’t so bad.

My Mum has been making this dish ever since I can remember, but I only recently asked her for the recipe. For me, this really is the ultimate comfort food, as it reminds me of my childhood when I would get inordinately excited whenever I knew crêpes were on the cards for supper. I’ve never much liked sweet crêpes (if I’m going to have pancakes, I only like American style ones), but savoury ones are a different thing altogether. Crisp and bubbling on the outside, and filled with an oozing, cheesy interior, these are absolutely delicious. And if you want to give a nod towards your healthy eating goals, you can serve a salad alongside.

 Cheese, Ham and Leek Crêpes

Number of Servings: 3-4

For the crêpes (makes about 7):

2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
2 tbsp melted butter

For the filling:

1 leek, finely chopped
6 oz ham, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
3 oz grated cheddar to scatter over top

For the cheese sauce:

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk, heated
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
A pinch of nutmeg
6 oz grated cheddar cheese

1/ Butter a casserole dish approx. 20 x 30. Preheat oven to 170°.

2/ Make the crêpes: beat the eggs well, add in remainder of the ingredients and whisk until smooth, then let stand for 30 minutes

3/ Heat a 8-9″ pan filmed with butter, pour in 1/2 cup of batter and tilt the pan so the batter is spread thin. Flip the crepe over so it cooks on both sides, until lightly brown. Continue until all the crepes are made, then set them to one side. Note: the crepes can be made in advance and frozen sealed in a plastic bag.

4/ Fry the leeks in the 2 tablespoons of butter until soft, then add the ham and let cook over a low heat for 15 minutes.

5/ Make the cheese sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit (about 2 minutes – don’t let it brown). Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as sauce thickens. Bring to the boil, add Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes more. Add the cheese and stir in until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little.

6/ Using 1/4 of the cheese sauce, put a film of the sauce at the bottom of the buttered casserole dish. Reserving 3/4 cup of sauce for the top, mix the remaining cup with the leeks and ham. Spoon approx. 2 tbsps onto the bottom of each crêpe and roll up. Place filled crepes into baking dish. Spoon reserved cheese sauce in two rows over top and scatter with grated cheddar.

7/ Cover dish with foil and bake for 30 mins. Then remove the foil and bake for another 5-10 mins until the top is browned and the dish is bubbling nicely.

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Enjoy! Do please let me know –  do you prefer sweet or savoury crêpes? What are your favourite comfort food recipes?