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Tropical Smoothie
Tropical Smoothie

Breakfast time can be such a rush and it’s all too easy to grab something convenient on the way to work, such as a muffin.  The Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) and Action on Sugar conducted research into blueberry muffins available on the high street. Shockingly, over 61% contained over six teaspoons of sugar. The recommended daily allowance is 30g which is about seven teaspoons!  In other words, one muffin takes uses up almost all of you your daily recommended amount of sugar.

To help combat the breakfast dash we have made a Tropical Smoothie, full of antioxidants and vitamins. The spinach in this smoothie really ramps up the nutritional benefits. Spinach is full of folate, iron, potassium, calcium and vitamins A, B2, C and K. Iron is fantastic for boosting brain power, so this recipe is great for anyone who’s revising for their exams or in a demanding job.

You can prep a weeks’ worth of smoothie and freeze them in ziplock bags. Once frozen, simply place the ingredients in your blender add the milk and water and blend before heading out. Or if you’re really pressed for time (or just want that extra few minutes in bed!) then you could even blend the smoothie the night before and keep in the fridge until morning.

 

Ingredients:

25g spinach

100ml milk of your choice

125ml water

200g pineapple or mango (frozen is fine)

½ banana sliced into chunks

1 tsp ground linseed

1 tsp honey (only use if your spinach is a little bitter)

Instructions:

  1. Place the spinach, milk, water, pineapple or mango, banana and ground linseed into your blender. Blend until smooth.

  2. Taste the smoothie, if you feel it needs the honey add it to the blender and blend again.

  3. Serve immediately and enjoy!

  4. To freeze for future use, place all the ingredients (whole not blended!) except the honey into a ziplock bag and place in the freezer. This can be kept for up to 3 months.


Food for Thought:

  • Bananas are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, folate, and vitamin B6. These all contribute to the proper functioning of your body and your health. They are also an immediate energy booster.

  • Pineapple can boost the immune system, and respiratory health, aiding digestion, strengthening bones, reducing inflammation, curing coughs and colds, and weight loss.  If you feel like a sweet treatEat pineapple chunks instead of a chocolate bar for a sweet treat.

  • Mango is full of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, A and C. They are rich in minerals like potassium, magnesium, and copper, and they are one of the best sources beta-carotene. These powerful antioxidants have the power to neutralize free radicals throughout the body fighting heart diseases, premature aging and cancers.

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Jalapeño and Cheddar Scones
While I'm a huge fan of traditional scones with jam, sometimes an unconventional twist on a classic breathes life into a dish. This time around, I made savoury scones, which are flavoured with extra mature cheddar. The heat from the jalapeños and the depth of the cheddar flavour are just perfect together. As with all scone recipes, this one is simple and the results are satisfying! They are a great accompaniment to soup but equally enjoyed on their own.

Ingredients:

250g plain flour (or wholemeal if you prefer) + 50g extra for cutting and rolling

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 tsp English mustard powder

100g cold butter, grated

150g extra mature cheddar, grated

150g jarred jalapeños, sliced

2 tbsp finely chopped chives

60ml single cream

60ml milk

1 tbsp of juice from jalapeño jar

 

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°

  2. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a mixing bowl.

  3. Add in the grated butter.

  4. Using a pastry cutter or the tips of your fingers, integrate the butter into the flour mixture. Continue until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs and there are no large lumps of butter.

  5. Add the cheese, chives and sliced jalapeño into the bowl and stir through.

  6. Mix all the liquids together and add them to the crumb mixture.

  7. Mix all the ingredients until it has come together to form a dough.

  8. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a rectangle.

  9. Sprinkle the top of the dough with some flour and roll out to about ½ inch thick, use a circular cutter of approx. 2 inches diameter and cut into rounds.

  10. Re-roll any excess dough and repeat until you have used up all the pastry.

  11. Place the scones on lined baking trays, leaving about 1 ½ inches between each scone.

  12. Brush the scones with milk and bake for 15-17 minutes until golden brown and the cheese is bubbling.

  13. Enjoy as a snack or perhaps with your favourite soup.


 

 
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Duck Filo Parcels
A delicious canape to impress dinner party guests!

Ingredients

  • 1 duck breast, skinned

  • 1 tsp oil

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning

  • 4 sheets of filo pastry

  • 25g butter, melted

  • about 8 tablespoons hoisin sauce

  • ¼ small cucumber, seeds removed and finely diced

  • 1 bunch of spring onions, finely chopped, plus extra to garnish.


Cooking Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/Fan 180ºC/Gas 6 and grease two 12-hole mini muffin tins.

  2. Heat a small frying pan until hot. Brush the duck breast with a little oil and season well. Seal into the pan until golden on both sides. Then place on a baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Leave to rest and then chop into small pieces.

  3. Meanwhile, brush two sheets of the filo pastry with melted butter and place one on top of the other. Slice 6 strips down and 4 strips across to make 24 squares. Place one square over another at an angle to make a star shape and then press this into the mini muffin tin (by now you should have four layers of pastry).

  4. Continue until all the squares have been used (this will make 12 tartlet cases)

  5. Bake the cases in the oven for about 12 minutes until lightly golden brown and crisp. Leave to cool.

  6. Mix the duck with the hoisin sauce, spring onion cucumber. Spoon the mixture into the filo parcels. Garnish with an small slice of spring onion.

  7. Serve warm and enjoy!

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Bacon, Tomato & Olive Orecchiette
We’ve partnered up with Villa Plus to celebrate their new destination in Puglia, Italy by sharing one of our favourite Italian recipes. This recipe for Bacon, olive and tomato orecchiette is simple to make, yet full of flavour and uses a selection of fresh ingredients from Italy.

Orecchiette – meaning ‘small ears’ is a type of pasta that originates from the south of Italy.

Ingredients:


4 slices of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 tbs olive oil

1 red onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

½  tbs chilli flakes

1 can chopped tomatoes

Handful of black olives

400g orecchiette pasta

Grated parmesan for serving

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Method

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook for around four minutes, or until it begins to brown.

  2. Add the chopped onion, cooking until soft for 3-5 minutes. Throw in the crushed garlic and chilli flakes, cooking for a further minute.

  3. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

  4. Bring the sauce to the boil, reducing to a simmer and cooking for a further 15 minutes or until the liquid is slightly reduced.

  5. Meanwhile, boil a large pan of water and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and return back to the empty pan.

  6. Add the sauce to the pasta, cooking over a medium heat and coating the pasta in sauce. Add olives and heat them up for a few minutes with the sauce.

  7. Serve with grated parmesan


 

Have a look at Villa plus here
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Cranberry Brownies
Do not let any leftovers from Christmas go to waste! Transform any unused cranberry sauce & chocolate into these gooey chocolate brownies!

 

Serves 8

Ingredients:

50g plain chocolate

40g plain flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 tbsp cranberry sauce

½ tsp sea salt

80g butter

100g sugar, truvia, or syrup from a sweet juice

2 eggs

 

Preparation instructions:

  1. pre heat the oven to 180 degrees gas mark 4

  2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a heavy based pan over a low heat, stir frequently until melted.

  3. Beat the sugar, eggs and cranberry sauce in a bowl with the vanilla extract, flour and salt.

  4. Pour into a 20cm square tin and bake for 15-20 minutes.

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