Friday, 31 October 2014

Salmon Vodka Tagliatelle

This is a perfect Friday easy meal.  Pasta off the pantry shelf, smoked salmon off-cuts and few other bits and pieces = gourmet food made at home!

There are so many variant recipes for this tasty dish with a wide range of pastas being used.  I love tagliatelle as it has a porous and rough texture which really sucks up the creamy sauce and richness of the egg yolk.  Tagliatelle is basically egg pasta - ratio 1 egg to 100g flour if you keen to make your own - and is a long flat pasta and a similar shape to that of fettuccine.  

Pasta offers great health benefits including providing glucose, a crucial fuel for the brain and muscles. It is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates which provide a slow release of energy.  Unlike simple sugars that offer a quick, and fleeting boost of energy, pasta helps sustain energy.

I generally work a 150g - 200g portion per person, which I find is more than enough, with no leftovers.

Salmon Vodka Tagliatelle 

Serves 2

  • 400 g Tagliatelle
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • ½ white onion, grated
  • 1 Tbsp good tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup vodka
  • 1 Tbsp good tomato sauce 
  • 1 cup single cream 
  • 180g smoked salmon, cut into strips 
  • Salt & pepper 
  • 1 egg yolk 
  • 2 Tbsp chives, thinly sliced
In a pot of salted water add a dash of olive oil and cook the pasta as per instructions on the packet.

In a large pan melt the butter and then add the onion and cook on medium until they have softened. Add the vodka and cook for a further 1 minute to burn off the alcohol.  Now add the tomato sauce and cream and simmer, still on a medium heat for 5 min.  Lastly, stir in the salmon slithers and season with a little salt and loads of fresh cracked black pepper.  Remove sauce from the heat.

When the pasta is ready, drain and ADD TO THE PAN - not the other way around.  Still off the heat, add the egg yolk and stir through to coat the pasta.

Return the pan and pasta to the stove and warm through on a low heat.  Serve immediately.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Butternut, Chicken & Tarragon Tart

A tart, quiche call it what you like, is seriously the easiest thing to whip up midweek for dinner. The additional bonus is ... you get to use fridge leftovers!

Seriously, yes I am sorry to bring you ANOTHER quiche recipe, although I have labelled this one a tart - which is a red herring, hoping you wouldn't notice.  Officially classified as a quiche, the 3 : 1 formula applies - that is 3 eggs to 1 cup dairy or in this case a little more dairy to make it luxe.

I always use a store-bought roasted chicken, as I don't see the point in doing it yourself midweek when the stores do a fantastic rotisserie effort for you.  You can use any leftover veg in your fridge, just think about the flavours.  Some veg are more bland than others and need a little pop of something - in this case Piri Piri as we call it in South Africa - AKA HOT CHILLI POWDER to everyone else.  

Butternut, Chicken & Tarragon Tart

Serves 4 - 6

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 cup butter melted
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

  • 100 butternut, small dice
  • 200g goat's cheese feta
  • 200g chicken, store-bought cooked and diced
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 1 tsp dried French Tarragon
  • Pinch Piri piri / Chilli powder

Heat oven to 160'C.

Add crust ingredients into a food processor and whizz for 30 seconds until pea-like crumbs are formed.  Grease a pie dish before adding the crumble.  Using the back of a spoon, press crumble in the base and up the sides firmly.  Bake as is for 10 minutes and allow to cool before adding any filling.

Microwave diced butternut for 2 minutes to get cooking process started.  Crumble feta onto cooled base, adding chicken thereafter and finally butternut.

To make custard simply mix eggs, cream cheese, mustard, milk, cream, tarragon and piri piri.  Pour over the filling in the base and bake 42 min until golden brown.  Allow to cool to room temp before serving.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

This is my kind of cake, not only is it delicious and moist, but it only has 3 ingredients.

Catching up on my Master Chef Australia series, food critic Matt Preston whipped up this little beast in a contestant Master Class.  I could not believe how it turned out and had to give it a try.

The results ... nothing but delicious, light and moist.  Not you're usual textured chocolate cake for the obvious reasons, no flour and all the typical ingredients - but more like a mousse.

The secret here is fold, fold and fold.  You need to keep the folding light as not to let all the air out of the eggs.  However, it needs to be folded well so all the Nutella is mixed, otherwise it will weigh and cook to the bottom of the cake.

Happy scoffing

~ Michelle ~ 

(serves 4 - 6)

4 eggs
240g Nutella
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 175’C
Soften Nutella over a double boiler
Beat eggs for 6 min on high in an electric mixer
Add vanilla and a ½ of Nutella to the egg and carefully fold together
Add remaining Nutella and fold, fold and fold
Make sure you take the chocolate off the bottom of the bowl and fold it in
Place in a greased baking tin
Bake for 25 min in the middle of the oven

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Mint Lamb Kofta

Inspired from one of my Greek cookery books and a little Jamie Olivier, here is an awesome quick and delicious meal for the whole family.

Koftas are sometimes made with fish or vegetables, rather than red meat, especially in India, and can be grilled, fried, steamed, poached, baked or marinated and served with a rich spicy sauce.

I personally like to saute them with a little oil in a griddle on the hob.  

I have added two 'secret ingredients' to this recipe, one being mint sauce, which fuses beautifully with the sweet lamb and the second, is some smokey paprika, which adds a punch of flavour.

I serve it up in some wholewheat pita popped in the toaster, slit in the middle and smeared with smooth cream cheese.  Add a bunch of rocket and spring onion in the bottom, then the kofta and another big dollop of cream cheese and there you have it!

(serves 4)

800g lamb mince
2 tsp smoked paprika
4 tsp mint sauce (store-bought)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp chilli oil
Olive oil
1 garlic clove, bruised
60g shelled pistachios
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 Tbsp runny honey

Using your hands, in a bowl mix mince, paprika, mint sauce, salt, pepper and chilli oil
Divide into 10 portions, using wet hands roll each portion into a fat finger
Add some oil and bruised garlic to a frying pan and allow the garlic flavour to draw for 1 min
Remove garlic
Add kofta fingers to the oil and saute on all sides until nice and brown
When done, drain excess fat
Crush pistachios in a pestle and mortar
Toss nuts, thyme and honey over kofta and swirl around the pan a few times to coat off the heat

Serve in some pita or alongside a traditional Greek salad.

~   Michelle ~

Friday, 24 October 2014

Baked Milk Tart

So when I feel home sick, this is my GO-TO recipe.  It is a traditional South African Milk Tart that can be served hot or cold. It is in essence a milk and custard tart, with loads of cinnamon and is light and fluffy and just stunning!

2 cups flour
125g butter
2 tbsp castor sugar
1 tbsp oil
1 egg
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

Preheat over to 200'c
Add all ingredients into a food processor and whizz until a ball is formed
Grease a tart dish  and evenly press the pastry along the bottom and up the sides of the dish
Bake for 15 minutes
Allow to cool

1 Tbsp + 3 cups milk
2 Tbsp castor sugar
1 Tbsp heaped flour
1 Tbsp mazina
1 Tbsp custard powder
1 Tbsp butter, melted
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs, separated
3 cups milk

Mix 1 Tbsp milk with sugar, flour, mazina, custard, butter, salt and vanilla essence to make a paste
Beat egg yolks until fluffy
Beat egg whites until stiff
Heat 3 cups milk in a pot on the stove until almost boiling
Add paste and continually stir to avoid lumps on a medium heat
Stir in egg yolks and stir until custard thickens
Off the heat, add egg whites and stir until smooth
Pour mixture into cooled pastry base
Bake in over at 200'c for 25 minutes
Remove and allow to cool
Sprinkle with a little cinnamon on top

   ~ Michelle ~

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Caramelized Bell Pepper Steak

It's all about meat tonight!  I don't think there it too much that can beat a great piece of grilled steak. It is something we enjoy at least once a week, and tonight is the night.

I tend to use rib-eye, also known as Scotch Fillet or Cowboy Cut as it is both flavourful and tender and perfect for the griddle pan or BBQ.  It is also a really great piece of meat to slow oven roast.

This marinade sounds rather strange as it has fish sauce it in, however it is just one of those things that works. Do remember that Soy sauce is salty, so I tend not to add extra salt when grilling.

Caramelizing the bell peppers is so easy and much better than buying store-bought as you can add more or less sugar (or sweetener powder if you prefer) and even a punch of fresh chilli to give it some kick.

Suitable for 2 meat lovers.

1 tsp fish sauce
3 tsp Soy sauce
1 tsp brown sauce / or HP Sauce
2 x 250g thick Rib-Eye steak
Olive oil
1/2 red pepper, seeded and sliced length ways
1/2 yellow pepper, seeded and sliced length ways 
1/2 white onion, sliced length ways
1 Tbsp sugar
Salt & pepper to taste
30ml Brandy
Knob of butter
Parmesan, shaved for garnish

Mix fish sauce, soy and brown sauce in a shallow dish and add steaks
Marinade for at least 30 min at room temperature turning a few times

Pre-heat oven at 180'C
Heat 2 Tbsp oil on medium heat in a pan
Add peppers and onion and cook for about 8 min until soft
Add sugar and cook for a further 5 min to caramelize
Season with a little salt & pepper

Heat a little oil in an oven proof skillet and sear steak on each side for 3 min (no more)
Add brandy a cook alcohol off for 1 min
Place skillet in the oven and grill for a further 2 min - 3 min (pending how you like it)
Remove from oven and add a dollop of butter on each steak
Cover skillet with aluminium foil and allow to rest for 5 min
Serve with roasted peppers and shaved Parmesan 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Classic Quiche Lorraine

It's Sunday ... keeping it classic and French and what better way to celebrate than with a good old Quiche Lorraine?

This quiche is a savoury flan that originated in the area of Lorraine in France.  It's a good basic recipe that works really well with a light salad on the side.

The pastry is really easy to make - and making our own makes all the difference - trust me! It is blind baked which means it can be stored for up to a week in a airtight container.  It is best freshly made but can be frozen as well.  Not suitable to microwave ... pastry goes all soggy and horrid.

Suitable for 4 foodie lovers

1 3/4 cups flour
155g butter
1 egg yolk
2 tsp lemon juice
A little water if necessary

1 onion, finely chopped
200g smokey bacon, chopped
3 eggs
300ml cream
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp dried tarragon
1 tsp English mustard powder
3/4 cup tasty strong cheddar cheese
1/4 fresh chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 180'c
Add flour, butter, egg yolk and lemon juice to a food processor
Whizz to combine, adding a little extra water if it looks too powdery
Remove from processor, roll in a ball and cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 min
After 30 min, roll pastry on a floured surface a little larger than your flan dish
Using the rolling pin, carefully lift and place over dish, do not stretch the pastry
Roll over the top with rolling pin to cut pastry
Line with some baking paper and add rice or beans to cover
Bind bake for 10 min
Remove from oven as well as baking paper and cool

For the filling
Cook onion  and bacon in a frying pan until soft and brown
In a separate bowl mix eggs, cream , milk, mustard, tarragon and parsley with a whisk
Pour into pastry shell and cook for 35 min
Stand for 5 min before serving

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Creamy Cauliflower Smoked Bacon Soup

Fall is here .. temps have dropped overnight and a cold wind is howling.  Dinner tonight ... hearty soup with a farm-style Country Loaf and a little salted butter - YUM!

Many of you might think cauliflower is boring and pretty tasteless.  Right?  Well not in this recipe. The volume is turned up with some smokey bacon and smoked paprika.

Here are a few interesting facts on cauliflower:

  • They came into being back in the 16th century and were considered 'honourable' in the garden because of their delicacy.
  • They are available in 4 colours ... white (most common), orange (high in vitamin A and found in Canada), green (available in US and Europe and is also known as broccoflower) and finally purple (which carries an antioxidant that is also found in red cabbage and red wine).
  • They are good for you as they are low in fat, low in carbs but high in dietary fibre.
I have a policy when making soup ... make enough to freeze a whole lot. 
This recipe makes about 4 litres in total


300g smokey bacon, diced
2 large yellow onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups leeks, chopped white and green parts
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 big head of cauliflower, chopped
6 cups chicken stock (pref homemade)
Bunch of fresh thyme
2 cups cream
Salt & pepper to taste

Crisp bacon in a little oil on medium heat in a Dutch oven (pot with tight fitting lid)
Remove bacon and drain on kitchen towel
Add onions, garlic, leeks and paprika to the same pot and sweat for a few minutes in the bacon fat
Once soft, add cauliflower and turn heat up
Once cauliflower has softened add stock and thyme and bring to the boil
Lower heat and simmer for 45 min
Remove thyme stems and carefully add to a blender and whizz until smooth
Return to pot, add cream, salt & pepper and heat through

Serve with a little reserved crispy bacon on top

Friday, 10 October 2014

Green Tea Salmon

Salmon has to be one of THE most delicious and popular fresh water fish around.  Did you know it is classified as an 'oily fish' which makes it a healthy choice due to its high protein and omega 3-fatty acids - not forgetting high levels of vitamin D?

This is a really simple and easy recipe.  It is all about soft flavours that come from the green tea meeting the lovely smoky taste of the paprika.  This is a definite winner at any dinner party.

I usually work on 200g per person as the fish is rich, especially if you serve it with some oriental noodles or lemon and coconut milk rice on the side.

Suitable for 4 foodie lovers

400g salmon fillet, skin on
Olive oil
2 lemon green tea, tea bags
1 pinch smoked paprika (optional)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Remove salmon from packing and pat dry with some kitchen  town
Cut open tea bags and mix tea with paprika, salt and pepper and mix well
Drizzle a little oil over the fish to coat
Add 1 tsp of herb mix to each fillet, flesh side and lightly rub to coat
Stand salmon at room temperature for at least 1/2 hour to draw
Pre heat oven to 180'c
Heat a skillet on the stove to hot
Add fish, meat side down and cook for 1 minute
Carefully flip and cook on the other side for 1 min
Pop into the pre heated oven and cook for a further 3 - 4 minutes - no longer!
Remove from oven, cover with aluminium foil and stand for 5 min before serving

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Chunky Avocado Dip

Guacamole originated in Mexico and is basically an avocado-based dip.  It is perfect when you are needing to cater for vegetarians and it works well when served with a few corn chips on the side.

Here are 4 tips to remember when making this party favourite.

  1. Start ripe - you need ripe avocado.  When buying, always make sure that the 'button' or brown stem piece is still in the avo as this acts as a seal against letting air into it.  Also when the bulbous end gives way to firm pressure, then it is ready to use.
  2. Go chunky - apart from being preferred to that of  baby food, it looks like the real deal being home-made.
  3. Punch flavour - start with a good base and then add what takes your fancy ... 
  4. Stay green - you cannot stop guacamole from turning brown but you can slow it down.  Always add lemon or lime juice as soon as you have removed the flesh from its shell.  Also keep it cold until the very end when serving.

Suitable for 4 foodies lovers

2 ripe avocados
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
8 dashes hot sauce
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 med garlic glove, minced
2 tbsp dill, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped

Cut avos in half.
Remove pip and take flesh out of the skin.
Immediately add lemon juice, hot sauce, mustard, onion, garlic, dill, salt and pepper.
Using a sharp pairing knife, slice through avo making chunks.
Add tomatoes and mix well.
Adjust seasoning.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Creamed Zucchini Soup

The weather has really turned today in the UK and I am nursing my hubby who has a little 'man flu". What better time to whip up a little hearty soup, served with a country fresh loaf to get rid of the sniffles.

Zucchini is one of those vegetables that never seems to make it to centre stage ... until now.  This soup is really great hot or cold and is low in calories approx. 15 calories per 100g,  It also has healthy levels of folate for us ladies, potassium and vitamin A. 

Zucchini or courgette, is a summer squash and in a culinary context is treated as a vegetable and is usually presented in a savoury dish or accompaniment, however botanically, it is a fruit.

The piece de resistance to this soup is the floating fresh herb crostini.  You do need to use fresh herbs and just before serving, float the crostini on top of the soup. Any herbs can be used,  I really like parsley, tarragon and chives.  

This is suitable for 4 foodie lovers

1 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 zucchini, sliced
4 cups chicken stock (home-made pref.)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp butter
4 tbsp cream

Heat oil in a pot over high heat

Add onions, garlic and saute for 4 min
Add zucchini, stock. salt and paprika and bring to the boil
Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 min until zucchini is very tender
Stand for 5 minutes
Whizz in a blender until smooth
Add butter and cream and stir through
Keep warm until serving

Bread and herbs:
8 slices french bread (inch thick sliced)
Cooking spray
1 clove garlic, halved
1/2 cup fresh parsley, rough chop
1/1/2 tbsp fresh tarragon, rough chop
1/1/2 tbsp chives, chopped
2 tsp Parmesan, grated
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Pinch salt
Pinch pepper

Preheat oven to 200'C
Place bread, single layer on a baking sheet
Coat bread with cooking spray and bake for 5 min
Rub bread with pieces of cut garlic
Mix parsley, tarragon, chives and Parmesan with 1 tsp oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper

Spread herb mix over slices of bread and float on top of each bowl of soup.  Serve immediately