Watercress Soup

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Watercress Soup

 

This delicious soup has always been a winner in our household, whether it is served as an Amuse-bouche, a simple starter or as a hearty bowl for lunch or supper. The method of making this soup is easy as can be and is based on a recipe for lettuce soup, which I found in a Sainsbury’s Easy Meals For One & Two by Anne Page-Wood many moons ago. In fact I still use up old ends of lettuces and greens to make a soup using this recipe when I’m clearing out the fridge. Just substitute the watercress with any greens you have in store.

Watercress Soup

Prep time 50mins – 1 hr (including cooking)

Serves 4 hearty bowls plus a little extra

Ingredients

1 large onion

5 medium potatoes

2oz Butter

2 bags Watercress (85 grams or approx 3oz per bag)

1 litre of Chicken Stock

Ground  Nutmeg

Lemon or lime juice

Seasoning

Method

  1. Peel and chop onion and then peel and cube potatoes into small squares.
  2. Melt the butter in a large casserole pot on top of the hob and then add the onion and potatoes. Move the potatoes and onions around for a moment until they are coated in the butter.
  3. Add the watercress to the pot with a little seasoning and then put the lid on top. Keep on a low light for 5-10 mins until the watercress is wilted.
  4. When the watercress is wilted give the ingredients a stir and then add the Chicken Stock. Put the lid back on and leave to simmer slowly until the potatoes are soft, which will take up to  25-30 mins.
  5. When the potatoes are cooked through, either leave the soup to cool slightly and then pour in a blender, or use a hand blender directly in the pan to ensure any lumps of vegetables are completely pureed.
  6. Once the soup is blended add a teaspoon of ground nutmeg and squeeze in the Juice of half a lemon. Stir and then taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper (I prefer white pepper for this recipe) as required and taste again. If you wish to add more nutmeg and lemon juice  then do this a little at a time until you feel as though the flavour of the watercress has been enhanced to the required taste.

This soup will last up to a couple of days in the fridge and also freezes well.

 

 

Sticky Kicking Chicken with a Watermelon, Radish and Noodle Salad

Sticky Kicking Chicken with Watermelon, Radish and Noodle Salad

Sticky Kicking Chicken with Watermelon, Radish and Noodle Salad

I really enjoy cooking Jamie Oliver’s recipes, and with the kids home from university, his recipes offer a youthful approach to family cooking which seems to appeal to their tastes. Dont get me wrong, they still enjoy traditional home cooking, but they also like to try new dishes, just as much as I enjoy experimenting with new flavours, ingredients and techniques. I have used Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals Cookbook several times over the summer break and I am going to post the best three recipes to date, as voted by the family, the first dish being the delicious and extremely attractive Sticky Kicking Chicken. It took longer than 15 minutes the first time I cooked this, but when I made the same dish last weekend it was much quicker, although I have to say I did play around with the order in which I prepared things…apologies Mr Oliver.

Sticky Kicking Chicken with a Watermelon, Radish and Noodle Salad

Prep – 25 mins (unless you have everything ready and close to hand)

Serves 4

Ingredients

Salad

200g thin rice noodles

sesame oil

800g watermelon

2 little gem lettuces

1 handful of radishes

1/2 a bunch of fresh mint

1/2 bunch of fresh coriander

Chicken

8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

1 tbsp Chinese five-spice

olive oil

2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

2 tbsp sesame seeds

Dressing

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp Fish Sauce

1/2 – 1 fresh red chilli

1/2 a thumb sized piece of ginger

2 spring onions

2 limes

1 small clove of garlic

Method

Place the coriander stalks in a small processor or liquidiser along with the soy and fish sauces, peeled ginger, chilli, crushed garlic clove, prepared spring onions, a splash of water, 1 tbsp of sesame oil and the lime juice. Spritz together until the sauce is smooth and then leave to one side until you are ready to dress the salad.

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Use a large sheet of greaseproof paper and sprinkle salt, pepper and the five-spice on to it. Open out the thighs and lay them on top of the paper and sprinkle the upper side of the chicken with seasoning and then fold over the paper on top of the chicken. Using a rolling pin bash the chicken to flatten it until it is 1.5cm thick.

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Using a large frying pan (I used two pans) add a little olive oil before placing the chicken in the pan. Turn each piece of chicken after 3-4 minutes of cooking and keep repeating this process until the chicken looks charred and is cooked through.

Whilst the chicken is cooking, prepare the salad. I used fresh thin rice noodles for this dish so I simply poured over boiling water to heat them through and then drained them. Drizzle the sesame oil onto a serving platter and toss the noodles in the oil. Slice the watermelon and cut into chunks (these do not need to be uniformed pieces) and add to the platter. Cut the lettuce into wedges, halve the radishes, finely chop the mint and most of the leafy coriander, and scatter over the platter.

Once the chicken is ready, remove the pieces and arrange on a platter or board. Pour away any excess fat, put the pan back on the heat then pour in the sweet chilli sauce and toss with some sesame seeds. Pour the dressing made at the start of this recipe over the salad and toss through the salad and noodles gently, until everything is well coated. Pour the chilli sesame sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with coriander leaves.

This dish is a real crowd pleaser, but for those who do not like chilli you can omit this and use honey for a glaze instead, which my chilli phobic daughter prefers.

Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée

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Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée

Yet again my husband gets a mention and I’m beginning to realise that much of what I cook is dictated by his own likes and dislikes. He believes he is a connoisseur of the french classic, Crème Brûlée and will weigh up the quality of this dessert in restaurants compared to my own meagre offering. He still claims my version is the piece de resistance, but what he doesn’t know is that my recipe is a cheat version, as it is not cooked in a bain marieI’m not sure why he likes my recipe so much, but I think it is a combination of the crack of the caramelised sugar, the thick, but not quite set custard of the brûlée and the taste of fresh raspberries at the bottom.

We had some friends for supper last night and yet again he requested Crème Brûlée as his choice of dessert. I agreed, but decided to add my own twist by introducing Passion Fruit instead of raspberries. I recently visited a local restaurant (The Green) for lunch as part of a work related event and for pudding I ordered a Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée. Whilst I didn’t ask the chef for the recipe I thought that the combination worked really well. So with my age-old cheat recipe from a Cooking for Two Sainsburys cookbook committed to memory, (I don’t even have this recipe any more) I began to shake up my life some what by introducing a little passion (fruit) into the situation!

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Turbot alla Livornese

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Turbot alla Livornese

My husband loves fish so when I have the time to really cook something different, I try to ensure I source the freshest fish possible and that usually means heading to our local fish stall on a Saturday morning. I wasn’t sure what type of fish to choose when I visited yesterday, but I knew I wanted to make a Livornese sauce to accompany whichever fish I selected. I have only recently learnt about this sauce after watching one of the Masterchef contestants, under the guidance of the wonderful Massimo Bottura, create the most beautiful fish dish with a Livornese sauce. This sauce originates from Livorno in Tuscany and whilst it is a relatively simple recipe the flavours are heavenly. The taste of the sea, ripe tomatoes and hint of garlic immediately transport you to the world of mediterranean cuisine. The dish feels healthy yet at the same time, indulgent and the colour of the sauce looks stunning on the plate.

For this recipe I chose a very large and quite expensive Turbot, which my friendly fish man filleted for me. Traditionally a Livornese sauce is served with Red Mullet, but after a little research I found that other fish such a sole or turbot also work well with this recipe. Whatever fish you choose to buy to accompany your Livornese sauce, be sure to ask your fishmonger for some fish bones and possibly some large raw, king prawns to help you make the base for the sauce. I also purchased a small bag of clams, to add to the dish just before serving. The result was delicious and I made so much sauce that I have been able to freeze some for another day.

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Crab Crostini

Canapé Recipe - Crab Crostini

Canapé Recipe – Crab Crostini

Over the next few months I aim to post a variety of recipe ideas for canapés, so I’m starting by sharing my favourite nibble. Crab Crostini is one of the quickest and easiest recipes I know and the visual impact is very pleasing. This is primarily because when the green and chilli is added to the crab meat it gives the canapé a jewelled effect. However if the look doesn’t tempt you then I guarantee that the taste will, as the freshness of the flavours makes your taste buds come alive.

This recipes is from Nigella Lawson’s book Nigella Christmas, but the recipe can also be found on numerous sites on the internet.

If anyone wishes to share a canapé recipe idea with me, please send it through and I will give it a whirl and let you know how I get on.

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