Recipes that are delicious and that always work!

You know these recipes are delicious because if I didn't think that they weren't fabulous . . . I wouldn't be showing them to you. You can also be sure that these recipes work for the same reason! The rest is simply a matter of taste.
“She turned to the sunlight and shook her yellow head, and whispered to her neighbor . . . "Winter is dead.”
~A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Pan Sautéed Cod Loins with a Manto Chipotle Sauce

 photo SAM_3903_zps029ac841.jpg

This is my final post about the set of Balsamic Vinegars and Olive Oils from  Vom Fass that I received recently, this time showcasing the Mango Balsam Vinegar which they sent.   Produced in Germany this is a fermented vinegar made from concentrated Carabao-Mango mousse added to white wine balsam vinegar to create a fine and fruity vinegar. It has a rich and strong flavour with a good balance between acidity and sweet flavours, rich and exotic. I thought it would be the perfect match for some really nice Cod Loins which I found at the fish mongers.

 photo SAM_3902_zpseae7d747.jpg

Several years ago I was lucky enough to visit Utah and went to a Brazilian grill restaurant when I was there called Tocanos.  The food was fabulous, but my favourite dish was the Cod with Mango Sauce.  I loved it so much that 5 years later I am still thinking about it!  That's when you know something is really good!

 photo SAM_3901_zpsae729af1.jpg

As soon as I saw the Mango Balsam Vinegar from Vom Fass, I knew that I wanted to try to recreate that beautiful dish.  This came pretty close.  I am sure theirs was a cooked sauce, but mine is a raw sauce, which has fresh fruity flavours with a touch of heat from chipotle chilies.

 photo SAM_3899_zps0557aa8d.jpg

Cod is a really sweet mild fish and goes perfectly with this delicious sauce.  The cod is simply dusted with some seasoning and flour . . . and then pan fried in butter until it is just beginning to fall apart, but is still moist and succulent.  It's a sin to overcook fish.  It really is.  My timings are perfect for a piece of cod that is about one inch thick.

 photo SAM_3897_zps5e921203.jpg

The sauce is fruity with a hint of tang from the vinegar and some mild heat from the chipotles . . .  which of course you can adjust by using more or less as you wish.  Altogether this was a fabulous entrée.   It was very simple to make, and yet at the same time this is something I would not hesitate to serve to my guests.  I think you will love it.  We sure did!

 photo SAM_3896_zps1441b088.jpg 

*Pan Sautéed Cod Loins with a Mango Chipotle Sauce*
Serves 4



Meltingly tender and and sweet cod, simply seasoned and dusted with flour and then cooked in butter, served up with a fresh Mango Chipotle Sauce.   


4 thick fresh Cod loins
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
plain flour for dusting
ground sweet paprika
knob of butter
the juice of half a lemon  

For the Sauce:
1 large mango, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp chipotle chili paste (I use Discovery)
2 TBS Mango Balsam vinegar
1/4 tsp garlic paste
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp fresh lime juice
a small handful of fresh coriander leaves, washed and dried (About 1/4 Cup)
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste  



Rinse your fish and then dry it very well with some paper kitchen towelling.  Dust each loin lightly with some salt, pepper and paprika.  Roll them in the flour, patting lightly on both sides to help it adhere and shaking off any excess.  Set aside.  

To make the sauce put all of the sauce ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth.   Set aside.  


Melt a knob of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.   Once it begins to foam, add the fish, presentation side down, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on one side, until golden brown, Flip over and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes, until browned and the fish is just cooked through.  (The edges should flake easily with teased with the tines of a fork.)  Squeeze the lemon over top and remove immediately from the heat.  Swirl the pan to amalgamate the juices of the fish, lemon and butter.  Divide the fish between 4 heated plates.  Spoon some of the butter from the pan over top of each portion of fish along with a dollop of sauce.  Serve immediately.    

The Vom Fass Philosphy
"VOM FASS is a Mediterranean way of sampling and savouring premium artisanal products directly from the cask.”

Vom Fass Mission
"The VOM FASS mission is to provide our customers with a Mediterranean way of sampling and savouring the finest, premium quality artisanal products, directly from the cask – with a commitment to uncompromising levels of customer satisfaction.”

Vom Fass has been created to enhance and meet the demands of a 21st century lifestyle, housing a superb selection of exquisite oils and balsamic vinegars, selected wines, liqueurs and a huge choice of exclusive spirits.   What makes Vom Fass completely unique is that all their products are sold straight from the cask, which means everythingn can be sampled before purchase.

Carefully sourced from leading producers from the Mediterranean to Austria, Vom Fass has selected it's artisan oils and vinegars for their eherapuetic health properties and as versatile cooking ingredients with real nutritional benefits.   Even the more indulgent products in the range have been created to bring something unique to shoe who also really know how to enjoy life.

Vom Fass prides itself on a vast range of high quality style conscious products, stocked by iconic store Selfridges.  Wtih an exceptional range of over 70 different glass bottles and hand inscribed labels or personal messages, Vom Fass will always represent a style choice.

For more information check out their web page.

Many thanks to Vom Fass!


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Garlic and Truffle Oven Fries


 photo SAM_3667_zps7808605d.jpg

As you all know I recently received a lovely set of Balsamic Vinegars and Olive Oils from  Vom Fass.  They came in a lovely wooden box and tied up with a pretty yellow ribbon.  


 photo images_zpseaf7ba3d.jpg  

Included in the box was a small bottle of White Truffle infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Italy.  Their White Truffle Extra Virgin Olive Oil is an elegant finishing oil, with a deep, earthy aroma, and a full taste to match. They have used a blend of white and black truffles to create a complex web of flavour, with delicate hints of garlic and mushroom.   I decided to use it to make some oven chips to go along with some steaks I was cooking the other night. 

 photo SAM_4092_zps325b5447.jpg

I guess you could call these gourmet oven chips!  Infused with the lovely flavours of garlic and truffles and black pepper  . . .

 photo SAM_4093_zpsd313250f.jpg

So simple to make too.   You will want to use a nice baking potato for these.   They are about the right size and have the perfect consistency when cooked.

 photo SAM_4094_zpsc5368022.jpg

I like to keep mine a little bit chunky and I keep the peels on, but do feel free to peel the potato if you aren't fond of the crispy goodness of deliciously moreish potato skins.   To me . . .  the skin is the best part!  I love em!

 photo SAM_4095_zpsfc13e4b9.jpg

There is just enough garlic in these to add a hint of flavour, without it being overpowering.  You want the flavour of the truffle oil to shine through.  So delicious.  Earthy, and woodsey . . . the perfect accompaniment to our delicious steaks.    Heavenly bliss.

 photo SAM_4097_zpsdbf64e7d.jpg 

*Garlic and Truffle Oven Fries*
Serves 4


Crisp, oven baked and loaded with the heavenly flavours of white truffles and roasted garlic.  


3 large baking potatoes, washed well
3 TBS white truffle flavoured olive oil
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
optional chopped fresh parsley to garnish  


Preheat the oven to 230*C/45025*F/ gas mark 7.  Line a large baking tray with baking paper.   Set aside.  

Cut the potatoes into 1/2 inch thick fries, leaving the skins on.   Toss them into a bowl, along with the oil, garlic, salt and pepper.   Coat them well with the mixture, and then spread them out onto the baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, giving them a gentle stir every now and then, until golden brown and crisp.   Serve hot, garnished or not with the chopped parsley.

The Vom Fass Philosphy
"VOM FASS is a Mediterranean way of sampling and savouring premium artisanal products directly from the cask.”

Vom Fass Mission
"The VOM FASS mission is to provide our customers with a Mediterranean way of sampling and savouring the finest, premium quality artisanal products, directly from the cask – with a commitment to uncompromising levels of customer satisfaction.”

Vom Fass has been created to enhance and meet the demands of a 21st century lifestyle, housing a superb selection of exquisite oils and balsamic vinegars, selected wines, liqueurs and a huge choice of exclusive spirits.   What makes Vom Fass completely unique is that all their products are sold straight from the cask, which means everythingn can be sampled before purchase.

Carefully sourced from leading producers from the Mediterranean to Austria, Vom Fass has selected it's artisan oils and vinegars for their eherapuetic health properties and as versatile cooking ingredients with real nutritional benefits.   Even the more indulgent products in the range have been created to bring something unique to shoe who also really know how to enjoy life.

Vom Fass prides itself on a vast range of high quality style conscious products, stocked by iconic store Selfridges.  Wtih an exceptional range of over 70 different glass bottles and hand inscribed labels or personal messages, Vom Fass will always represent a style choice.

For more information check out their web page.

Many thanks to Vom Fass!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Red Candy and Joseph Joseph

 photo SAM_4120_zps386c7664.jpg

You probably get tired of me saying this, but I DO get sent the nicest things.   Recently the people at Red Candy  sent me this lovely Joseph Joseph Gadgets Gift set, and I have been enjoying using it.  As you know I love Joseph Joseph anything!    





Containing essential cooking-companions, alongside a burst of citrus-hues, these kitchen accessories come in high-quality packaging, showing the iconic Joseph Joseph branding, making sure the lucky recipient will appreciate the unique gifts before they've even left their box!  And let me tell you, when I saw them I did feel very lucky indeed!

Made up of a Rotary Peeler™, a Catcher™ Citrus Fruit Reamer and a Rocker™ Garlic Crusher, in zesty lime-green hues, the 3-Piece Gadgets Gift Set from Joseph Joseph will bring both superior functionality and lively aesthetics to loved-ones (or your) kitchen!

 photo SAM_4121_zps1bc6e816.jpg


Keeping your creations free from citrus pips is easy, with the Catcher™ Citrus Fruit Reamer. The ergonomic handle ensures comfort when you squeeze lemons and the soft, rubber cup catches unwanted debris, allowing the fresh citrus-juice you’re after to drain through, yum!  Catching the pips is always the most annoying part of juicing a lemon!  This handy piece of kit solves that problem.





The Rotary Peeler™ boasts 3 different, stainless-steel blades in one, easy-to-grip plastic case, making it simple to switch between peeling different fruit and vegetables.   It also has a nifty potato eye remover on the side, and comes completely apart for washing.

 photo SAM_4125_zps215e5f44.jpg 

Last, but by no means least, the 3-Piece Gadgets Gift Set from Joseph Joseph is completed with the Rocker™ Garlic Crusher, another simple, yet user-friendly design, that makes food-preparation straight-forward. Breaking-up and crushing garlic is a breeze by simply pushing downward in a rocking motion, easing the garlic through the holes, where it will sit in the curved design until you’re ready to pop it into whatever you’ve got cooking!  It works a charm and is also easy to clean up afterwards.

All of them are dishwasher safe.  I just love the bright colours and unique design of these tools.

Many thanks to Red Candy for sending them to me.  

Redcandy.co.uk is a website dedicated to the celebration of red home furnishings and modern interior accessories.  Whether you use red as a subtle accent, or your love of this passionate colour sees it spread throughout your life, RedCandy.co.uk provides for all by stocking the latest, most fantastic and innovative red products & designs from across the world.

With such a large choice of modern red accessories covering collage photo frames, clocks to colanders, mugs to magazine racks, you need not venture any further in your quest to find a complement for your red themed interior, or discover the perfect gift for another that adores this colour.





Ham and Spaghetti Casserole

  photo SAM_4227_zpse46e2283.jpg  

Traditionally we have always had a roast Ham for our Easter dinner.  I have done Lamb a few times, but I always go back to Ham. It's hard to break a lifetime of tradition.    

 photo SAM_4226_zpse1b1add8.jpg  

This year we treated ourselves to a fabulous green ham (unsmoked) from Piper's Farms.  I had never done a green ham before, and they threw in a free packet of their honey and mustard glaze.  Hands down this was the most delicious baked ham I have ever eaten.  Truly magnificent.  Succulent even.  

 photo SAM_4228_zpsfb231cf5.jpg  

I decided to make a casserole with some of the leftovers today.  I used some spaghetti I had in the cupboard and I created a lovely creamy sauce to pour over it all using milk, chicken stock and single cream, adding two cheeses and a variety of seasonings.  

 photo SAM_4234_zpsb5442597.jpg  

I cut up the leftover ham into cubes, added a bit of brown sugar and caramelized it in a bit of butter.  This added an additional depth of flavour to the dish.   I topped it with more cheese . . .  cheddar and Parmesan, which I mixed with some crispy salad onions for crunch.  (They are like the french fried onions you can get in a can.)  

 photo SAM_4240_zps6fb05cf8.jpg  

I broke the spaghetti noodles into manageable lengths prior to cooking.  Todd is not fond of pasta and especially spaghetti, which I think is because he thinks it a bit sloppy to eat.   Breaking up the pasta made it better for him and he said he quite enjoyed it . . . well as far as pasta goes.  ☺  

 photo SAM_4241_zps1b8a1e1b.jpg  

I thought it was absolutely delicious myself, but then when it comes to pasta, I can't get enough of it!  I served it with some sliced and marinated fresh tomatoes.   It was a great meal.  Simple.  Easy.  Economical.  Delicious.  Using store cupboard ingredients.  You can't ask for much better than that.  

 photo SAM_4236_zps468192bb.jpg

*Ham and Spaghetti Casserole*
Serves 6 - 8 depending on appetites

 A hearty casserole with a delicious sauce.   It's a great way to use up leftover ham!

For the sauce:
225ml of milk (1 cup)
225ml of chicken stock (1 cup)
225ml of single cream (1 cup)
120g of grated strong cheddar cheese (1 cup)
180g of grated Parmesan cheese (1 cup)
2 TBS butter
2 TBS plain flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried basil
dash of cayenne pepper
freshly ground black pepper to taste

You will also need:
3 cups diced leftover cooked ham
1 TBS brown sugar
1 pound of uncooked spaghetti, broken into pieces
60g of additional cheddar, grated
2 TBS grated Parmesan cheese
a handful of crispy salad onions (like Durkee's french fried onions)

Preheat the oven to 189&C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Butter a large shallow casserole dish.  Set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Whisk in the flour,  and cook for about 60 seconds. Whisk in the garlic and onion powders along with the basil and cayenne.  Slowly whisk in the milk, chicken stock and cream.  Cook, whisking constantly until the mixture bubbles and thickens.   Remove from the heat and whisk in some ground black pepper and the cheeses to melt.  Taste and adjust seasoning as required. I doubt you will need any salt.  

Spray a skillet with some cooking spray, or melt a tiny bit of butter in it.   Add the cubed ham and brown sugar.  Cook and stir over medium heat until the ham is golden and the sugar has caramelized.  Set aside.

Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions and then drain well.  Put half of the spaghetti into the casserole dish.   Cover with a third of the sauce.   Top with the remaining spaghetti.  Spread the cooked ham over top of this and then pour the remaining cheese sauce over all.   Mix together the additional cheddar, Parmesan and the crispy salad onions.  Sprinkle evenly over top.

Bake in the heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.   Serve hot.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Easy Lasagne

 photo SAM_4114_zpsd9bbb5af.jpg

A good lasagne is one of those easy recipes that most cooks should have up their sleeves.   They come in ever so handy.  I can't think of the number of times that I have been invited to a pot luck/covered dish luncheon or supper and decided to make a lasagne to bring along.

 photo SAM_4113_zps3d46f874.jpg

I do this for several reasons really.   One, I always, ALWAYS have the ingredients on hand in my cupboards and freezer to make one.  I don't have to go scrambling around to find them, or send Todd to the shops for them.  I hate having to send the Toddster to the shops for anything on his own.  He tries his best, but invariably comes home with the wrong thing, bless him.

 photo SAM_4116_zps6595fe66.jpg

Have you ever noticed how many men are wandering around the grocery aisles with blank stares . . .  looking for all the world like they are in no-man's land with cell phone glued to their ears??  If you have a man who can safely navigate the grocery store without having to phone home at least once and who arrives with exactly what you wanted him to get . . . hang onto him for dear life. He is a rare animal indeed!

 photo SAM_4118_zps48ca9688.jpg

The second reason this makes a great pot luck/covered dish to bring is that  it's goes together quickly and is very easy to make (I think even Todd could make this with a few instructions)  . . .  and thirdly ( and most importantly) it's delicious!  Everyone likes it.  No bells.  No whistles.  Just plain good and simple old fashioned goodness.  Enjoy!

  photo SAM_4115_zpsa6058242.jpg

 *Easy Lasagne*
Serves 8
No need for precooking the noodles in this.  Delicious.  Simple.  Easy.

For the meat sauce:
1 pound of extra lean ground steak
a bit of oil
2 jars of your favourite marinara sauce (5 cups)
garlic salt
pepper to taste
For the cheese filling:
250ml of cottage cheese (1 cup)
1 large free range egg
90g of finely grated Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup)
1 TBS parsley flakes
freshly ground black pepper
You will also need:
180g of mixed mozzarella and cheddar cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)
2 TBS finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup of bechamel sauce
lasagne noodles, uncooked (In North American 12, in the UK you will need 12 also)  


 photo SAM_5752_zps0eb94d33.jpg

First make the meat sauce.   Scramble fry the minced steak in the oil in a large skillet until brown.   Add the marinara sauce, garlic salt and pepper to taste.   Allow to simmer slowly for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Mix the cottage cheese, egg and Parmesan together.  Stir in the parsley flakes and some black pepper
Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking dish.  Spoon a bit of the meat sauce on the bottom of the dish to lightly cover..  Add a layer of noodles.  Cover with half of the meat sauce.  Spoon the cheese mixture over top and gently spoon out to cover.   Sprinkle on half of the mozza/cheddar mixture.  Top with another layer of noodles.   Finish with the remaining meat sauce.  Cover with the remaining cheese.  Spread the bechamel sauce over top.  Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.  Cover tightly with foil and bake in a 180*C/350*F/gas mark 5 oven for 1 hour, uncovering for the last 15 to 20 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Kitchen Sink Granola

 photo SAM_4191_zps652fd94f.jpg

I love granola.  I have loved it since my hippy dippy days back in the early 1970's.  I loved granola way before it became cool and I have always enjoyed making my own!  I think home-made is always infinitely better than anything shop bought.

 photo SAM_4192_zpsdfb57637.jpg

I love cookies too and one of my favourite cookies has always been kitchen sink cookies . . . you know the kind I mean.   I don't think I've ever put my recipe on it, but basically they are a basic peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookie that has all sorts in it . . . coconut, raisins, etc.  Pretty much everything but the kitchen sink, hence the name!

 photo SAM_4196_zpsad9f655e.jpg

Anyways, today I got to thinking . . . what if I made a granola that was based on my favourite kitchen sink cookies . . . one that was filled with all that I love about those cookies, but was still relatively low in fat and this is what I came up with.   The only fat in this is . . . . tada!  The Peanut Butter and with only 130g of it (1/2 cup) in the whole recipe, which makes a pretty decent six cups . . . that means there is only a fraction of fat per serving.  Win!

 photo SAM_4197_zpsb212a49f.jpg

And it's filled with lots of goodies like peanuts, sultanas . . . coconut.  Okay so perhaps the chocolate chips are a bit naughty . . . but you know . . .  all fun and no play . . .

 photo SAM_4199_zps3b2f4b44.jpg

Can be dull and kind of boring, and this granola is definitely not that!  I think you're going to love this.  It's great!

 photo SAM_4198_zps497542cb.jpg

*Kitchen Sink Granola*
Makes about 6 cups
One of my favourite cookies is Kitchen Sink cookies, stogged full of peanut butter, rolled oats, raisins, peanuts, chocolate chips, and coconut.  I decided to create a breakfast granola based on the same idea.  This is not too sweet.  Just right and very delicious.   


300g old fashioned rolled oats (3 cups)
150g salted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped (1 cup)
70g savory seed mixture (with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, etc.) 1/2 cup
40g flaked coconut (1/2 cup)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
130g smooth peanut butter (1/2 cup)
115 ml of pure maple syrup (1/2 cup)
60g light muscovado sugar (1/4 cup packed)
1 tsp vanilla
2 TBS water 

To finish:
225g of semi sweet chocolate chips (1 1/4 cups)
150g of sultana raisins (1 cup)
(You can use more. It's a matter of taste)
Preheat the oven to 165*C/325*F/ gas mark 3.   Lightly butter a large baking tray.   Set aside.

Mix the oat peanuts, seed mixture, flaked coconut, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.  Place the peanut butter, maple syrup, sugar, vanilla and water into a small saucepan.   Cook over low heat, whisking constantly until the peanut butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.   Don't let it boil.  Remove it from the heat and pour it over the oat mixture.  Mix well together.   Spread it out in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.   



Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, stirring it from the edges every 10 minutes.  It should be golden brown when done.  Remove it from the oven and sprinkle 45g (1/4 cup) of chocolate chips over top.   When they soften lightly stir them in a bit.  Allow to cool completely and then stir in the remaining chocolate chips and raisins.   Store in a large airtight container at room temperature.  It will keep for several months, but I doubt that you hae it that long. It's really tasty!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Not food . . . but bathrooms . . .


 photo Original_Small-Bathroom-Storage-Sarah-Barnard-Prindle_s3x4_al_zpsec91d19e.jpg


I just fell in love with these bathroom pictures. There is just  something about them. I love marble. I love pretty wallpaper.


 photo imagesCAJFQU4O_zps7d54f223.jpg

I love modern shapes mixed with traditional things.

 photo download_zps27e48b33.jpg

I love furniture chests used as sink counters.

But looking at these pictures now, I don't know that I could live with any of them  A bit too fussy perhaps??  I guess I really  just want something simple and clean - that doesn't look like it would take two hours to clean. What do you think? Too fussy? Or glam and fabulous?

There's no doubt about it however that mirrored furniture can make any bath look larger and more fabulous.  Mirrors just have a way of opening up a room like nothing else can.