Starting With A Poached Egg

Some time ago I remember visiting Bills and raving about their delicious veggie breakfast. I wanted to recreate my own version at home but life has been busy, so I’ve been avoiding breakfast or eating porridge as a quick fix for as long as I can remember.

This bank holiday weekend things are different though.

After a manic week of feeling worried about my personal life and doing overtime at work, I swore to myself that today I would relax. My boyfriend is out all day too so I’m taking things easy. There’s a little tidying up to do but if I don’t get it done I won’t beat myself up about it.

Taking things slow for me means that I sleept in, had a bubble bath and will watch and eat whatever I want.

I accidentally had all of the ingredients to recreate a version of Bill’s breakfast today so, after eating leftover pizza for breakfast I thought I’d attempt to make a poached egg for lunch. I’d tried a few times before but failed. Apparently the trick is vinegar not salt. Is this something everyone else knew apart from me?

Regardless it worked!

Maybe it was actually me anxiously waiting and watching the pot boil that made it work actually? Practice makes perfect I suppose and it was my last egg.

I paired my poached egg with some delicious bread for the Aldi deli section, chopped an avocado, mixed with garlic and paprika and spread over two thick slices of bread. To finish off I added a splash of sweet chilli sauce as well.

The only thing missing from my dish compared to Bill’s was the lack of tomato hummus or mushrooms but, I’ll be more prepared next time. Halloumi would also be a delicious addition I’m sure.

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I suppose it turns out that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, regardless of when you decide to eat it. My pizza breakfast this morning was me feeling lazy but, this was just the opposite. Getting up and making myself a little something exciting to eat has filled me with joy. I’m still lacking the motivation to clean but, I’m blogging and feeling cheerful for what feels like the first time in a long long week.

My breakfast for lunch is a small attempt at me trying to be kinder to myself. I’ve been getting carried away, wrapped up in work and exhausted. I’ve not been giving myself enough time to breathe and as a result I’ve been short with just about everyone. Relationships feel like they’re crumbling and I’m trying to hold it together.

I’ll be making this breakfast again that’s for sure and I’m already looking forward to it.

I’m trying to get my shit together and I’ve started with a poached egg.

Thai Red Curry

What’s not to love about Thai cuisine. I love the fragrance and spice that you don’t get from an Indian curry. I love Indian food too but their heat is completely different and I find it hard to replicate at home, unlike Thai I discovered recently.

Thai food has been a favourite of mine since I began cooking but I’d always cheated and used ready made pastes or curry powders. However, that all changed when my local supermarket started stocking lemon grass.

To make your curry you will need…

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 ginger
  • 1 stick of lemongrass
  • 1 whole red chilli
  • 1 tin of light coconut milk
  • soy sauce

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It’s a pretty simple recipe really.

To start, roughly chop your garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chilli and add to a blender or a pestle and mortar. If you don’t have either of these you can chop all of the ingredients finely instead to achieve a similar result. It doesn’t matter if the paste is rough, as long as it’s to a consistency that you are happy with and that the ingredients are somewhat mixed together. I chose to keep mine quite chunky as the below photo shows.

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Once you have achieved your desired consistency, heat your wok with coconut or sesame oil and add the paste. After a few minutes your mixture will begin to smell beautiful and that’s when you know it’s time to add your soy sauce and coconut milk.

Chop the veg of your choice and add to your wok, leaving to simmer for about 30 minutes in total. I chose to add white mushrooms, 1 red pepper, some spiralized sweet potato that I had in leftover in the freezer and some kale.

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If you want to add any meat to your curry such as chicken, I would recommend marinading the meat in advance with the above spices and cook in your wok for approx 10/15 minutes on a medium heat, adding at the same time as your veg.

Although, I’m a seafood lover so I chose to add some prawns to my dish and I think salmon would work pretty well too, either pan fried or again cooked in with the sauce.

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When plating up my dishes always look atrocious but, trust me this curry tasted really yummy. The portion is kind of big but it’s certainly a healthy dish in my opinion so who cares.

I was so proud that I had managed to recreate the flavours of many Thai curries I had tasted in the past all by myself. My boyfriend even said that it was the best curry he had ever tried! If that’s not a compliment I don’t know what is!

I paired my curry with a little bit of white rice and plenty of sweet chili sauce.

If you want to purchase a little blender like mine, it only cost £10 in Morrisons. It’s such a handy little gadget for all of your pastes and sauces.

Gammon & Mushroom Lasagna

The portions for this recipe are made under the assumption you are cooking for 4 people or in my case, dinner and leftovers the following day.

Recently I decided to rustle up a simple but delicious Lasagna recipe using a small joint of gammon. Instead of making the traditional tomato based recipe with beef, I chose to layer Bechamel sauce, mushrooms, gammon and spinach with a Parmesan crust.

The recipe is incredibly easy although, I did slightly cheat a little…

I started by adding a little olive oil to my pan, chopping one small white onion with three cloves of garlic, a little bit of pepper and some mixed herbs.

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Once all softened and the smell of garlic begins to fill the room, finely chop your white mushrooms and chestnut mushrooms (approx 1 box each). Chuck them in the pan, generously stirring all together and cooking on a low heat.

Once all of the mushrooms have started to turn a darker brown and have reduced in size, it’s time to add your spinach (250g) and your Bechamel sauce. If you’d like you create your own Bechamel sauce I would recommend following the BBC Food recipe however, I did cheat (I feel guilty) because the M&S sauce is really tasty and unfortunately was the more convenient option on the day. Next time, I’ll be a little braver and create the entire recipe from scratch but in the meantime, please accept my apologies.

Moving on back to the recipe itself…

I had cooked gammon in advance using my slow cooker, placing on high for about 5/6 hours, adding a little bit of water and some garlic. One all cooked, I sliced into thick pieces and stirred into my sauce. I left to simmer for at least 5 minutes before assembling my Lasagna.

I made 3 layers in total, adding parmesan and a little leftover mozzarella to the top sheets of pasta, placed in the oven for a further 30 minutes at 200 and left to stand for 10 once taken out of the oven.

This dish isn’t on my healthy eating list but is a real treat. It’s the perfect comfort food on a cold winters day and fills you with all kinds of joy whilst eating.

If you have any leftover gammon, I usually tend to put it in sandwiches the following day for work or you could always freeze it and defrost at a later date.

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Mushroom & Ham Pie

Happy British Pie Week to all!

In celebration I had to make a pie (for the first time) and share the adventure with you all.

I was toying with the idea of making a sweet cherry or apple pie but, I thought it would be more practical for me to make a savory meal that we could eat as leftovers the next day. Therefore, I decided that chicken and mushroom was the way to go.

Once I had a rough idea in mind of the ingredients I needed, I ventured out to my local supermarket. Upon arrival I quickly realised that Storm Emma had caused food shortages still and as a result there were no chickens in sight! I didn’t want to change my recipe completely because of this, so decided that ham would make a good alternative.

My main ingredients for the filling were…

  • 2 cloves of garlic (one smoked, one unsmoked)
  • 1 white onion
  • olive oil
  • 1tbs of tarragon
  • 1tbs of mixed herbs
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • vegetable stock
  • black pepper
  • 1 leak
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 box of diced white mushrooms
  • 1/2 box of diced chestnut mushrooms
  • milk
  • 3tbs of Light Philadelphia

I started off by chopping one white onion and my two cloves of garlic together, adding to a pan with a little olive oil. Once the onions had began to soften I added my black pepper, tarragon and mixed herbs, slowly pouring a large glass of white in and a vegetable stock cube just after. Then, I simply added my chopped leaks, carrots and mushrooms, stirred together and left for about 1 hour on a low heat.

Whilst my sauce was simmering away, I had my gammon cooking in the oven for about half an hour. I used gammon steaks because I didn’t have time to slow cook an entire joint and I wanted my pie to be more about the vegetables than anything else. When the two steaks were cooked through I diced them into chunky pieces and stirred them into the pan with the rest of my filling.

Once the sauce had reduced quite significantly and the flavors absorbed it was time to add the milk. It’s important to make sure the sauce didn’t split and the milk didn’t curdle, so I kept my pan on a low heat and left for a further 10 mins approximately. To finish, I added 3 large tbs of Light Philadelphia to the sauce (an alternative to cream) and set aside to cool down.

For the pastry itself I decided to use Just Rol short crust pastry ready made. Somewhat cheating but I was totally daunted by the thought of making my own.

My plan was just to make a pastry lid but, I changed my mind last minute because I wanted to cook something spectacular and beautiful to share with you all.

This led me to blind baking without beans. I did some Googling once more and managed to find an article about using rice as an alternative, and it actually worked pretty well I must admit.

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I was impressed in terms of its baking but, the presentation was a mess. I trimmed the edges of my pastry before baking instead of after stupidly, so the edges didn’t reach the top of my baking tin once cooked. I powered through anyway and when the pastry had cooled down I added my pie filling and assembled my lid.

I had envisioned this neatly baked pie, gold all over with fork marks around the edges but, that’s not what happened at all. I think I over filled my pie for one and, in order for the lid to fit against the base I needed to stretch the pastry in places. The bake just wasn’t even. Also, I was in such a panic that I totally forgot to add an egg wash, which is why the colour is still pale once cooked for approx 30 mins at 180.

To sum up, I’m proud that I managed to make a pie and celebrate British Pie Week but, am sorely disappointed in myself for ruining the pastry. The pie itself actually tasted pretty yummy but the presentation sucks! I found myself flustered at many points whilst cooking this meal and finally understand a little bit of the pressure the contestants on Great British Bake Off must feel.

If you’re looking for a similar pie recipe to create at home I would recommend BBC Foods chicken pie recipe, which I had based my version on. 

 

Haddock & Spinach Melt

Usually on Sundays I make a roast dinner or sausage and mash for me and my partner to enjoy but, last Sunday I wanted to try something a little different.

I had purchased some haddock earlier in the week with the plan to poach it and make a creamy white wine sauce. However I thought I’d get a little experimental and decided to google other recipe ideas. I quickly found a haddock and spinach cheese melt on the BBC Good Food website and slightly adapted the recipe to make my own version.

Their dish is low in fat so I was trying to come up with something healthy to pair with it. After a few minutes of thinking,  I chose to recreate the same thick cut wedges I had previously made when cooking my steak recipe. They are relatively easy to make and it’s safe to say I’ll never be buying oven chips ever again. Seriously!

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To make your own simply cut 4 large potatoes into thick wedges, leaving the skin on and par boiling for only 5 minutes. Once complete drain the chips, place on a baking tray and spray fry light on each one. Cook for 15 minutes, flip the chips over on to their other side and spray with fry light once again. In total they should take between 30/40 minutes to cook.

Meanwhile, you can start cooking the cheese sauce. I chopped two shallots and two cloves of garlic, frying until golden brown with olive oil and a little bit of pepper. I then added almost an entire bag of spinach (250g) and mixed through until wilted.  Following from that, I then added about 90g of light Philidelphia and sprinkled in some Parmesan shavings. Finally, I took the sauce off of the heat and added to a small baking dish, sitting the haddock on top.

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I followed the BBC guidelines in terms of baking and decided to cook my fish for only 15 minutes in total. You definitely want to get the chips going first, so I put this all in the oven after rotating the chips over.

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You will notice that the BBC recipe includes adding chopped tomatoes on top of the haddock but, I’m not too fond of roasted tomatoes so chose not to include them. I also used smoked haddock unlike their recipe too. I knew this wouldn’t take away from the flavours and would still work to create something super tasty.

This dish is so simple and easy to cook, I’d highly recommend if you are looking for something light for dinner. It looks pretty impressive I think too or at least my boyfriend thought so but, causes minimal kitchen stress for you. It only took about 40 minutes in total to prepare and I think it could be a real crowd pleaser, so I’ll definitely be cooking again.

If you don’t like the idea of cooking chips you could always make buttery new potatoes too or even mash! The cheese sauce could work with salmon or cod if you’d prefer and even chicken if fish isn’t your thing.

Steak & Chips

It was Valentines Day on the 14th and a great excuse for me to try out a new dish at home. I think I might have mentioned in a previous post reviewing Bill’s Diner that I wanted to try steak and really enjoyed theirs. So, I thought it was about time I tried to recreate my own version at home and to be honest, I think it might have been just as good, if not better!

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I cooked my version of healthy chips by cutting my potatoes in to thick wedges, par boiling them for 5 minutes before sticking them in the oven with a spray of fry light on each. I rotated them after 15 minutes and sprayed more fry light on the other sides. I think in total I baked them for 30/40 mins at 200 until golden brown.

For the steak, I was aiming to cook it to medium. I again used more fry light, I sprinkled a little pepper on each side, and cooked on each side for 3 minutes. I used the BBC Food guidlines to help me on how to cook the perfect steak. I ignored the recipe but half way down the page they note the following…

  • Blue: About 1½ mins each side
  • Rare: About 2¼ mins each side
  • Medium-rare: About 3¼ mins each side
  • Medium: About 4½ mins each side

I paired my steak and chips with fancy long stemmed broccoli and a peppercorn sauce. Unfortunately I didn’t cook the sauce myself, as I totally forgot to buy the ingredients but, I will definitely attempt to next time because there will be a next time! I know it’s an easy dish to some but I’d never made either of the main components before and I was so so pleased with the results, as was my boyfriend.

This exert is taken from a post I wrote earlier this year about my food journey.