SATURDAY KITCHEN

Cook BooksI love cooking.  I love finding and following new recipes, but most of all, I love inventing new recipes and creating delicious dishes.  Here, I’ll share a range of recipes each week – some old classics and some new ideas, which I hope you will enjoy.


Spinach, Mushroom and Sage Gnocchi

Spinach, Mushroom and Sage Gnocchi

This simple supper makes the most of the delicious flavours of sage and mushrooms and is really quick to make.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

<span style="color: #ff99cc;"5g dried porchini mushrooms, soaked according to packet instructions

100g spinach, chopped

100g cream cheese

10 sage leaves

Salt and pepper

350g bag fresh gnocchi

25g mild cheddar, grated

1. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the gnocchi according to packet instructions (usually only 2-3 mins).

2. Whilst the gnocchi is cooking, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms until beginning to brown.

3. Add the chopped spinach, cream cheese, sage leaves and salt and pepper and stir.

4. Drain the gnocchi and add to the frying pan. Stir through to coat and transfer to an ovenproof dish.

5. Top with grated cheese and grill for 8-10 mins, until the cheese is beginning to bubble and turn brown.

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Shakshuka

Middle Eastern Shakshuka

This spicy Middle-Eastern dish is really delicious and makes the perfect one-pan supper or tasty brunch.

Serves 2 as a light meal; double the ingredients for a more substantial dish

Ingredients

½ tsp cumin seed

4 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion

1 red pepper, cut into strips

2 tsp golden caster sugar

½ tsp mixed dried herbs

10 cherry tomatoes

100g mushrooms, chopped

1 tsp coriander paste

1 tsp tomato puree

Pinch chili flakes

Salt and pepper

100ml water

2 free range eggs

Small bunch fresh chives, finely chopped

1. Dry fry the cumin seeds in a large frying pan for 1-2 mins.

2. Add the oil, onions and peppers and fry for 5 mins until beginning to soften. Add the sugar and dried herbs and continue cooking for 5 mins.

3. Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, coriander paste, tomato puree and chili flakes and continue to cook for 10 mins, adding the water a spoonful at a time, to form a thick sauce.

4. Reduce the heat and make two wells in the tomato and pepper mix. Crack an egg into each space and cover the pan. Cook on a low heat for 10-12 mins until the eggs are just set.

5. Serve in the pan, with plenty of crusty bread to soak up all the juices.

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Chive Pancakes with Mushrooms and Asparagus

Chive Pancakes with Mushroom and Asparagus

These light pancakes with mushrooms and asparagus make a deliciously simple Spring supper!

Makes 6 pancakes

Ingredients

125g plain flour

1 egg

300ml milk (I used soya milk, but regular milk should work just as well)

Small bunch fresh chives, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

4 tbsp. olive oil

200g asparagus spears, thinly sliced

200g chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced

100g cream cheese

50g Emmental cheese, grated

1. Sift the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the egg and pour in quarter of the milk. Whisk to combine and then add the remaining milk, a quarter at a time until fully combined. Add the chives, salt and pepper and leave to rest for 20 mins.

2. Whilst the batter rests, quickly fry the mushrooms and asparagus in the olive oil, until beginning to brown.

3. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream cheese and Emmental until melted. Set to one side.

4. Heat a small amount of oil in a frying-pan and pour about two tablespoons of batter into the pan. Swirl around to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook for a few mins, until the bottom of the pancake is golden brown, then flip over and cook for another few minutes until golden brown. Repeat until you have used all the mixture (you should get about 6 pancakes).

5. Divide the mushroom and asparagus mixture between the pancakes. Spoon a line of the filling in the centre of a pancake and then roll up.

6. Serve with steamed or boiled asparagus.

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Chocolate and Ginger Squares

Chocolate and Ginger Squares

These deliciously moreish chocolatey bites were the happy result of a raid of the cupboards! Feel free to substitute the ingredients for what you have in.

Ingredients

100g milk chocolate, broken into pieces

100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

100g butter

2 tbsp golden syrup

125g ginger nut biscuits, broken into pieces

1/2 tsp dried ginger

100g dried mixed berries

1. Line a 20cm square baking tin with greaseproof paper.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a glass bowl over a pan of gently simmering water.

3. Allow to cool slightly and then stir in the remaining ingredients.

4. Tip into the prepared tin, cover with tin foil and pop in the fridge for 1-2 hours before cutting into squares and enjoying!

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Green Pesto Pasta

Green Pesto Pasta

I absolutely love pesto, even more so when it is homemade. This recipe is so simple to make, it’s surprising how something so tasty can be whipped up so quickly!

Ingredients

200g spaghetti

5 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove

25g cheddar cheese

50g spinach

handful of fresh basil leaves

25g pine nuts

salt and pepper

1. Cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions (usually 8-10 mins in salted, boiling water).

2. Put the remaining ingredients in a blender and whizz until smooth (add extra olive oil if needed)

3. Drain the pasta and return to the pan. Stir through the pesto to coat.

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Apple and Maple Syrup Cobbler

Apple and Maple Syrup Cobbler

This delicious, American inspired dessert is the perfect Winter warmer!

Ingredients

700g apples, cored and thinly sliced

100g light Muscavado sugar

2 tbsp apple juice

1 tbsp maple syrup

10 cloves

1 tsp vanilla essence

For the cobbler
100g self-raising flour

50g butter

1 tsp cinnamon

50g caster sugar

1 egg, beaten

3 tbsp milk

1. Preheat the oven to 160 ˚C.

2. Put the apples, sugar, apple juice, maple syrup, cloves and vanilla essence in a saucepan and heat gently, until the sugar dissolves. Then allow to simmer for 10 mins, until the apples begin to collapse.

3. Whilst the apples are cooking, sift the flour into a bowl with the cinnamon and rub in the butter with your fingertips. Stir in the sugar, then add the egg and milk and mix together to form a soft batter.

4. Drop tablespoons of batter over the fruit, then bake for 25-30 mins, until the topping has a golden crust.

5. Serve with single cream and maple syrup.

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Christmas Biscotti

Christmas Biscotti

I absolutely love biscotti! These delicious, crunchy, spiced biscuits are perfect with a cup of coffee to round off a delicious Christmas meal and are so simple to bake!

Ingredients

350g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground cinnamon

250g caster sugar

3 eggs, beaten

Grated zest of 1 orange

85g sultanas

85g dried orange cranberries

100g blanched almonds

1. Heat oven to 160˚C and line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.

2. Put the flour, baking powder, spices and sugar into a large bowl and stir in the eggs and zest until the mixture is beginning to stick together.

3. Use your hands to bring the dough together – this will take a few minutes.

4. Add the fruit and nuts and work in to the dough.

5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 4. Make each quarter into a sausage, about 30cm long.

6. Bake for 25-30 mins, until the dough has risen and feels firm, but is still pale.

7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, before cutting into diagonal slices about 1cm thick.

8. Lay the slices flat on the baking paper and bake for another 15 mins. Turn over and bake for a further 15 mins.

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Mushroom and Chestnut Soup

Mushroom, Chestnut and Rosemary Soup

I make a lot of soup, but this has definitely become a favourite. Rich mushrooms and creamy chestnuts combine to form a deliciously rich and smooth wintery soup. Perfect for a vegetarian Christmas dish.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

30g butter

1 red onion, chopped

1 clove garlic chopped

200g closed cup mushrooms

25g dried Porchini mushrooms, rehydrated (save the stock)

200g vacuum-packed, pre-cooked, chestnuts, chopped

1 ½ tsp dried rosemary

½ l vegetable stock

1 tsp soy sauce

Salt and pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion for 5 mins until beginning to soften.

2. Add the garlic, chopped mushrooms, Porchini mushrooms, chestnuts and rosemary and stir to coat.

3. Use the liquid from the Porchini mushrooms to make up to ½ litre vegetable stock and add to the pan with the soy sauce, salt and pepper.

4. Allow to simmer for 10 mins, then blend and serve with a swirl of single cream.

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Savoury Brown Betty

Vegetable Savoury Betty

This delicious vegetable Brown Betty is a savoury twist on a classic dessert – perfect for a warming winter meal.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion

2 cloves of garlic

2 red peppers, chopped into chunks

1 aubergine, chopped into chunks

2 courgettes, chopped into chunks

carton of tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato puree

Salt and pepper

For the topping

100g white bread, torn into breadcrumbs

45g butter, melted

15g parmesan cheese, grated

Salt and pepper

Handful of fresh basil, torn

1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the onions until soft.

3. Add the garlic, peppers, aubergine and courgettes and stir to coat.

4. Add the tomatoes and tomato puree and allow to simmer for about 15 mins, until the sauce thickens.

5. Meanwhile, spread the breadcrumbs over a baking sheet and bake for 10 mins, until crispy and turning golden. Remove and reduce the oven to 160˚C.

6. Combine the melted butter with the grated parmesan cheese and stir in the breadcrumbs until evenly coated.

7. Spoon the vegetable mixture into an ovenproof dish and then cover with the coated breadcrumb.

8. Bake for 10 mins, or until the top is golden and serve with fresh basil leaves.

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Pumpkin and Pecan Pie

Pumpkin and Caramelised Pecan Pie

There is a lot to be thankful for at this time of year; celebrate American Thanksgiving with this scrummy pie which makes the most of Autumnal flavours.

Ingredients

250g short crust pastry

450g pumpkin flesh, diced

2 tbsp water

125g dark Muscavado sugar

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

8 cloves, crushed

1 egg

35g butter

35g dark Muscavado sugar

100g Pecan nuts, whole

1. Preheat the oven to 190˚C.

2. Roll out the pastry and line a deep 20cm flan dish.  Prick the base and cover with baking paper.  Then blind bake for 10 mins

3. Whilst the pastry is cooking, put the pumpkin, sugar, butter, water, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a deep pan and cook over a medium heat until the pumpkin is tender.

4. Blend and allow to cool.  At this point, the mixture can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or can be kept in the freezer.

5. When cool, add the egg and pour the mixture into the prepared pastry case.

6. Bake for 35-40 mins, until the filling is set.

7. Whilst the pie is in the oven, melt the butter and sugar together in a saucepan.  Add the pecans and stir to coat.

8. To serve, spread the caramelised pecans over the pie and serve with cream, ice-cream or by itself.

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Cinnamon Rice Pudding

Sultana and Cinnamon Rice Pudding with Apple Compote

Rice Pudding is classic comfort food – perfect for these chilly winter evenings.  This version is lightly spiced with cinnamon and cloves. 

Serves 2, or 4 as a small dessert.

Ingredients

100g pudding rice

1/2 l milk (I used soya milk, but ‘normal’ milk would work just as well)

100g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cinnamon stick

8 cloves

70g sultanas

½ tsp dried cinnamon to serve

For the Apple Compote

2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp water

1. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the pudding rice.  Cook for three mins, then drain and rinse with cold water.

2. Put the drained rice, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, cloves and cinnamon stick back into the pan and bring to the boil.  Then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 30 mins, stirring occasionally.

3. After 15 mins, add the sultanas to the rice mixture.

4. Whilst the rice cooks, add the apples, caster sugar and water to another pan and cook over a medium heat for about 20 mins, until the apples have collapsed.

5. When the rice is sticky and has absorbed most of the milk, turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly before serving with a dollop of the apple compote and a sprinkling of dried cinnamon.

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Spiced Orange and Chocolate Biscuits

Spiced Orange and Dark Chocolate Biscuits

These biscuits with Wintery flavours of chocolate and spices are really simple to make, but are undeniably moreish – you won’t be able to eat just one!

Ingredients

125g spreadable butter

175g caster sugar

225g plain flour

2 level tsps baking powder

8 cardamom pods, crushed

10 cloves, crushed

75g dark chocolate, chopped

Zest of two oranges

1 tbsp orange juice

1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl (melt in the microwave for 30 secs to make this easier).

3. Sift in the flour, baking powder, spices, chocolate, orange zest and juice and combine to form a dough (you might need to use your hands for this).

4. Tip out onto floured board and roll to 1cm thickness.  Cut into 5cm circles and place on a lined or greased baking tray (they will expand slightly when cooking, so leave enough room between them).

5. Bake for 18-20 mins, or until golden.

6. Allow to cool for 5 mins on the baking trays and then transfer to a wire cooling rack to completely cool.

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Croque MademoiselleCroque Mademoiselle

This lovely lunch-time treat is inspired by Rachel Khoo’s Croque Madame Muffins (from ‘The Little Paris Kitchen’) and my favourite sandwich from the Bertinet Bakery, the Croque Champignon.  We’ll call this the Croque Mademoiselle.  Perfect for a late night snack, or a leisurely Sunday brunch.

Ingredients

6 slices of white bread, crusts removed

1 tbsp melted butter

80g mushrooms, sliced

6 eggs

For the béchamel sauce

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp plain flour

200ml milk

Pinch nutmeg

Salt and pepper

30g parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C.

2. Make the béchamel sauce first: melt the butter in a saucepan and then stir in the flour until it forms a paste.  Slowly add in the milk and whisk to thicken (this should take a few mins).

3. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper and allow to cool a bit before stirring in the cheese.

4. Roll the slices of bread out with a rolling pin until flat and then coat both sides with the melted butter.

5. Press each slice of bread down into a ramekin, to form small ‘bowl’.

6. Add the sliced mushrooms to each ramekin, followed by an egg and a tablespoonful of béchamel sauce.

7. Bake for 15 mins, or 20 mins if you want a firmer egg.

8. Serve with a simple green salad, such as peas and some fresh herbs – basil, mint or coriander.

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Butternut Squash and Mushroom Curry

Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Mushroom Curry

This lightly spiced Autumnal curry is deliciously warming on a miserable November evening.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 red onion

2 cloves garlic

250g sweet potato, peeled and cubed

500g butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed

Carton chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato puree

3 tbsp water

25g shitake mushrooms

150g button mushrooms, chopped into large chunks

Handful fresh coriander, chopped

1. Heat the olive oil and fry the cumin seeds and coriander seeds for 2-3 mins over a gentle heat, until beginning to brown.

2. Add the onion and fry for 3-4 mins until turning glossy.

3. Add the garlic, sweet potato and butternut squash and stir to coat.

4. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and water and allow to simmer for 15 mins until the sauce thickens.

4. Add the mushrooms and cook through for a further 5 mins.

5. Stir through with fresh coriander just before serving with rice.

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Honeycomb Cheesecake 2

Honeycomb Cheesecake

This cheesecake is deliciously indulgent and yet incredibly simple to make.  Brilliant for a party or special occasion, or if you just need a treat!

Ingredients

100g butter

200g digestive biscuits, crushed

600g cream cheese

300ml double cream, whipped

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g icing sugar

2 tbsp golden syrup

6 Crunchie bars, crushed

1. Preheat the oven to 140˚C.

2. Melt the butter and pour over the crumbled digestive biscuits.  Stir to combine until it looks like wet sand.

3. Tip into a 20cm cake tin with a loose bottom and press down.  Bake in the oven for 15 mins and then allow to cool.

4. Mix the cream cheese, double cream and vanilla extract together until smooth.  Then stir in the icing sugar, golden syrup and 4 of the Crunchie bars (smashed into small pieces) and combine.

5. When the base is cool, tip the cream cheese mixture into the cake tin and smooth the surface.  Leave to set in the fridge for 6 hours or overnight.

6. Sprinkle generously with the remaining 2 Crunchie bar pieces just before serving.

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Aubergine Spaghetti

Spicy Aubergine Spaghetti

Make the most of the last of the aubergine crop with this deliciously spicy spaghetti dish with chili and coriander.

Serves 2

Ingredients

200g spaghetti

4 tbsp olive oil

1 aubergine, chopped into chunks

2 cloves garlic

Pinch dried chilli flakes

1 tsp dried cumin

40g salted roasted almonds, chopped

70g sultanas

2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped, or 1 tbsp coriander paste

Salt and pepper

1. Cook the spaghetti in salted water for 10 mins (or according to packet instructions)

2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the aubergine for about 10 mins, until soft.

3. Add the chili flakes, garlic and dried cumin and stir to coat.

4. Add the chopped almonds, sultanas, coriander, salt and pepper.

5. Drain the pasta and stir into the aubergine mix before serving.

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Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash and Cardamom Soup

The weather has definitely taken a chilly turn this week, making boots and snuggly jumpers a must.  This deliciously creamy, sweetly spiced soup will warm you up from the inside.

Serves 2 for lunch, or 4 as a starter

Ingredients

4 tbsp olive oil

10 cardamom pods

½ tsp dried chili flakes

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

½ butternut squash, peeled and cubed

130g sweet potato, peeled and cubed

800ml vegetable stock

Salt and pepper

100g bread, crusts removed and cut into squares (about 1cm)

1. Crush the cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar and remove the leaves.  Dry fry in a pan for a minute or two over a low heat, to release the oils.  Then grind in the pestle and mortar.

2. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a deep frying pan and fry the onions until soft.

3. Add the garlic, cardamom and chili flakes and fry for 2-3 mins until soft.

4.  Add the butternut squash and sweet potato and stir for 5 mins, until evenly coated.

5. Add the vegetable stock, salt and pepper and allow to simmer for 20 mins, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.

6. Whilst the soup is simmering, put the squares of bread and 2 tbsp olive oil in a plastic bag and shake to coat.  Fry in a dry pan, stirring continuously until brown.

7. Blend the soup and serve with croutons.

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Soba Noodle Salad

Soba Noodle Salad

Salads are not just for Summer!  This soba noodle salad is really healthy, with butternut squash, sweet potato and broccoli, and the addition of warming spices makes it a perfect, filling Autumnal lunch.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, whole and unpeeled

100g sweet potato, peeled and cubed

½ butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed

100g broccoli, cut into florets

160g Soba noodles

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

½ tsp dried ginger

2 tbsp mixed seeds

Pinch dried chili flakes

1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C.

2. Put the sweet potato, butternut squash and garlic cloves in a roasting tin with the olive oil and roast for 30 mins.

3. Cook the soba noodles in salted boiling water according to packet instructions (usually 3-5 mins) and drain.

4. When roasted, peel the garlic, mash and stir through the sweet potato and butternut squash.

5.  Combine the butternut squash and sweet potato in a bowl with the drained noodles and remaining ingredients and serve.

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Plum Brown Betty

Plum Brown Betty

This delicious take on a classic American dessert – the Brown Betty – uses seasonal plums and spices for a wonderfully warming Autumn pud.

 Serves 4 as a small dessert, or two as a hearty pudding!

Ingredients

For the filling

450g plums, stoned and quartered

Juice and zest of one orange

40g Demerara sugar

5 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise

For the topping

100g white bread, torn into crumbs

40g butter, melted

1 tsp ground cinnamon

50g Demerara sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C.

2. Quarter and stone the plums and add to a large saucepan with the orange juice and zest, sugar, coves, cinnamon stick and star anise.

3. Bring to the boil and stir until the sugar dissolves.  Then reduce and cover and leave for 10-15 mins until the plums have collapsed and you have a thick, sticky sauce.

4. Meanwhile, spread the breadcrumbs over a baking sheet and bake for 10 mins, until crispy and turning golden.  Remove and reduce the oven to 160˚C.

5. Combine the melted butter with the ground cinnamon and sugar and stir in the breadcrumbs until evenly coated.

6. Spoon the plum mixture into an ovenproof dish and then cover with the coated breadcrumbs [traditional Brown Bettys layer up the fruit and crumbs, but I prefer the striking contrast of colour and flavour by just topping with breadcrumbs, so adapt to your tastes].

7.  Bake for 20 mins, or until the top is golden.

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Spinach and Sweet Potato Curry

Spinach and Sweet Potato curry

This delicious curry is both really tasty and really healthy, as spinach are sweet potatoes are full of immune-boosting Vitamin C – essential at this time of year as the Autumn colds begin to set in.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tbsp curry pase (I used Patak’s Tikka Massala paste)

1 sweet potato, cubed

1 potato, cubed

500g carton chopped tomatoes

400g tin chickpeas in water (240g drained weight)

1 tbsp tomato puree

250g spinach

1. Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan and fry the onions until soft.

2. Add the garlic and curry paste and stir until evenly coated.

3. Add the potato, sweet potato, chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and allow to simmer until the sauce thickens.

5. Add the chickpeas and cook for a few minutes.

6. Add the spinach and stir through briefly before serving with pilau rice and a handful of spinach leaves.

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Mushroom And Hazelnut Risotto

Mushroom and Roasted Hazelnut Risotto

This Autumnal risotto has a deep, earthy flavour thanks to the mushrooms and roasted hazelnuts.  Perfect for a starter at a dinner party or as a satisfying September supper.

Serves 6 as a starter or 3 as a main meal

Ingredients

50g butter

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

1 red onion, finely chopped

200g chestnut mushrooms, peeled and chopped

20g dried shitake mushrooms, soaked and chopped

15g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked and chopped

1l vegetable stock (use the mushroom soaking liquid to make up to the 1l)

15ml Scotch whisky

2 tbsp soy sauce

100g roasted chopped hazelnuts

Salt and pepper

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and when foaming, add the garlic and onion and fry gently until soft.

2. Add the rice and stir to coat for 5 mins.

3. Add the whisky and stir until evaporated.

4. Then slowly add the stock, 100ml at a time and stir until absorbed.

5. After adding 500ml of stock, add the mushrooms and continue to stir.

6. When all of the stock is absorbed (after about 20 mins of stirring), add the soy sauce, roasted hazelnuts, salt and pepper and stir through before serving.

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Pea and Pesto Soup

Pea and Pesto Soup with Garlic Croutons

When I was little, I used to love afternoons spent shelling peas with my Granny.  There is something beautifully simple and satisfying about breaking open the pods to see all of the tiny peas lined up neatly.  You can use frozen peas in this recipe, but why not make the most of the last of the harvest with this deliciously deep soup.

Serves 2 for lunch or 4 as a starter

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

200g potato, peeled and diced

300g peas (frozen or shelled)

800ml vegetable stock

3 tbsp green pesto

Small bunch of fresh basil leaves (14/15 leaves)

Salt and pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the garlic for 5 mins until beginning to soften.

2. Add the vegetable stock and peas and cook for another 5 mins.

3. Add the pesto, basil leaves, salt and pepper and blend until smooth.

4. Serve with garlic croutons and fresh basil leaves.

Garlic croutons

2 slices white bread, crusts removed and cubed (use scissors for really neat edges)

1 clove garlic, mashed

3 tbsp olive oil

1. Combine all ingredients in a plastic sandwich bag and shake vigorously to evenly coat the bread.

2. Heat a large frying pan and empty the bag, stirring until the croutons turn golden brown.

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Apricot Flapjacks

Apricot, Almond and White Chocolate Flapjacks

Flapjacks are one of my favourite things to bake – they are so simple and you can add pretty much anything to them.  Plus, the mixture is great straight from the bowl!  These summery flapjacks make the most of the light and delicate flavours of apricots, almonds and white chocolate.

Makes 16-20 smallish squares (depending on how much you ‘tidy up’ the edges before cutting!)

Ingredients

75g butter

100g golden syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

150g porridge oats

200g dried chopped apricots (I like to soak mine in boiling water for 10 mins before cooking, to prevent them drying out)

100g flaked almonds, roughly chopped

100g white chocolate

1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C and line a deep baking tray with greaseproof paper.

2. Gently melt the butter and golden syrup together over  a low heat.

3. Add in the vanilla extract and stir in the porridge oats, apricots and almonds until evenly coated.

4. Tip into the baking tray and press down evenly.

5. Bake for 15-20 mins, until golden brown on top.

6. Allow to cool on a wire rack and, whilst cooling, melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.

7. Drizzle or pipe the melted chocolate over the flapjacks and spread with a palette knife.

8. When cool and the chocolate has set, cut into squares.

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Summer Fruit Crunch

Summer Fruit Crunch

This really easy dessert is not only delicious but can literally be whipped up in just a few minutes.  What’s more, all of the ingredients are things you probably already have in the fridge, freezer or cupboard – and if you don’t, this is a great excuse to always have them in stock!

Serves 2

Ingredients

4-6 crumbled biscuits, depending on size (60-90g) (I used Hellema Peanut cookies)

100g frozen mixed berries, allowed to thaw for about an hour, but still cold (I used Sainsbury’s Basics mixed berries, but you could play around with the combinations for different flavours)

150ml double cream, whipped

2 tbsp clear honey

1. Simply layer up the berries, whipped cream and crumbled biscuits in pretty bowls or ice cream dishes (I try and do at least two layers of each for a range of colours, textures and flavours) and drizzle with honey – it’s that simple!

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Spicy Sweetcorn Soup

Spicy Sweetcorn and Kidney Bean Soup

With the weather feeling more like Autumn than August this week, warm up with this deliciously spicy sweetcorn soup. It takes just a few minutes to make and most of the ingredients are things that you probably have in the store-cupboard already.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

1 red onion

1 red chili or 2 tsp red chili paste

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

½ tsp cinnamon

500g carton chopped tomatoes

600ml vegetable stock

2 tbsp tomato puree

100g sweetcorn

420g tin red kidney beans

salt and pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan and fry the onions until soft.

2. Add the garlic, chili, cumin, paprika and cinnamon and stir to coat.

3. Add the chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock, tomato puree, sweetcorn and red kidney beans and allow to simmer for 5 mins.

4. Blend half of the soup (or all if you prefer a smooth texture) and serve immediately.

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Miso Soup

Super Simple Miso Soup

This super simple soup makes a lovely refreshing Summer lunch. It’s really healthy too!

Serves 4 as a light lunch

Ingredients

2 tbsp miso paste (I used Sainsbury’s own brand)

1 tsp chili paste or 1 fresh chili (I used Gourmet Garden Hot Chili paste)

396g tofu, cubed (I used Cauldron Foods Tofu)

3 spring onions, finely sliced

100g frozen peas

100g mushrooms, finely sliced

10g shitake mushrooms, finely sliced (if you use dried mushrooms, you will need to soak them first in boiling water for 30 mins)

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1. Gently heat the miso paste, chili paste and stock together in a large saucepan.

2. Add the tofu, spring onions, mushrooms and frozen peas and cook through for 3-4 mins.

3. Remove from the heat and drizzle with soy sauce and sesame oil before serving.

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Quorn Korma

Quorn Korma

This deliciously creamy and lightly spiced korma is really quick to make and much healthier than a microwave meal.  I’ve used Quorn pieces, but you could easily use chicken instead.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tbsp curry pase (I used Patak’s Tikka Massala paste)

250ml carton coconut milk (I used Blue Dragon)

300g bag of Quorn Chicken style pieces

50g sultanas

5 cloves (discard the stalks and crumble the heads)

pinch of nutmeg

Handful of flaked almonds

1. Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan and fry the onions until soft.

2. Add the garlic and curry paste and stir until evenly coated.

3. Add the Quorn pieces, coconut milk, nutmeg and cloves and allow to simmer until thick.

4. While the curry is simmering, dry fry the flaked almonds (heat in a frying pan with no oil and stir until golden brown).

5. Stir in the sultanas and flaked almonds and serve with pilau rice and green salad.

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