Posted in cooking

A change of direction

So my last post was almost two years ago and my goodness a lot has happened since then. The biggest change is that Mr Gem and I are now the proud owners of a bouncy, noisy 5 month old boy! He has absolutely changed our lives for all of the good reasons and only a couple of the not so good – mostly sleep! 

Adjusting to parenthood has meant that our diet has suffered a bit of a hit – although to be fair when I was pregnant I mostly ate beige carbs so it’s been a while since I dusted off the cook books. But now that the boy is in more of a routine and we are about to embark on the exciting journey of weaning it’s time to start cooking healthy tasty food that we can enjoy as a family. 

Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough for now so let’s get on with my first new dish:
Chicken with Feta and Sundried Tomatoes with Balsamic Glazed Tomatoes and Roast New Potatoes 


Perhaps a little easy, but it’s all a balancing act with getting the boy bathed and bedded whilst the low maintenance parts of the meal can be cooking – plus it’s Tuesday who eats gourmet on a Tuesday?! It was very tasty though and perfect for a busy midweek tea. 

I took inspiration for this recipe from BBC Food but I added the sundried tomatoes to go with the feta. 

To begin with halve and quarter the new potatoes, season and then coat with oil from the sundried tomato jar and give it a good mix with your fingers. Spread out on a baking tray and stick in the oven (180 degrees ish) for 30 – 45 mins. 

Season the chicken breasts and coat with oil,  put in a frying pan for 4 or 5 mins on one side. Whilst it’s frying on one side, chop feta and sundried tomatoes and mix together. Turn the chicken over and top with the feta and sundried tomato mix. Transfer to a baking tray and pop in the oven for 15 mins or so till the chicken is cooked through. 

When the chicken is in the oven season the cherry tomatoes and coat in oil and pop them in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 mins add a splash of balsamic and pop back into the oven.

And that’s, it simple but so tasty and satisfying. Enjoy with a glass of wine and celebrate another day surviving on less than 5 hours sleep, enduring the noise of soft play or getting through a trying day at the office. 

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Posted in cooking, Food, pizza

Pizza Saturdays!

Well I can’t believe its been over a month since I last posted! Time flies when you’re having fun…and writing a million wedding thank you cards.

So June was a busy old month, and I’ve put myself onto the Fast Diet to try and shed some of the post wedding podge in anticipation of our Honeymoon in September. I like the Fast Diet, it’s not for everyone but for me extreme dieting two days a week is much more palatable than restricting myself everyday. Plus it means I can have pizza!

Pizza

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It’s always a big night at Kitchen Gems when we make pizzas, I really really enjoy making them from scratch. My pizza base recipe and tomato sauce recipe both come from Jamie’s Italy

For the Dough:

Strong white flour, salt, yeast, sugar lukewarm water (what even classes as lukewarm? I have no idea – I went for something that felt neither warm nor cold if that helps)

I love making pizza dough, I like the science of the yeast changing the shape and size of the dough. Mix the yeast and sugar into the water and set it to one side for a couple of minutes. Then make a well in your dough and add the water and yeast, mixing with a fork until it all comes together. Jamie Oliver recommends doing this on a work surface but I think Mr Gem would hit the roof if I had pizza dough all over the kitchen – I do it in a glass bowl and it works fine for me.

Once the dough has come together its time to knead it. Flour a surface and off you go, really working the dough for a good ten minutes. You’ll know when its ready because it will become smooth and spring back when you prod it. Once done roll into a ball and flour it, then cover it with cling-film and set it to one side.

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For the Tomato Sauce:

Garlic, fresh basil, canned tomatoes, salt and pepper

Chop the garlic and fry in a bit of oil, add the tomatoes and basil, salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. You should squish the tomatoes a bit and let it cook for 20 mins or so.

Build your pizza! Roll the dough to the size you want and then smooth some tomato sauce over it, and start topping! When you are happy with your pizza stick them in the oven at about 250 degrees for around 10 minutes.

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Best served with a glass of Prosecco and Saturday night TV!

Posted in cooking, Food, mexican food

Fish Tacos, Guacamole and Mango Salsa

I had my hen weekend in Edinburgh back in March – it was absolutely amazing, 12 of my favourite ladies on the planet stayed in an apartment, played highland games and had prosecco served to us by a very attractive butler in the buff – it was basically the weekend dreams were made of! On the Saturday night we went out for a meal to line our stomachs before the big night out and we ate at a fabulous Mexican restaurant on The Royal Mile called Pancho Villas – honestly it was fantastic, great atmosphere, jugs of margarita, plates and plates of tapas and excellent value – I can’t recommend it enough.

However, this isn’t a restaurant review blog – for starters I’d have to remember exactly what I had eaten and quite frankly after a couple of those margaritas there is no chance of that happening. What I do remember was the fish tacos. I’d never eaten fish tacos before that meal but I certainly wanted to try them again – so I made my own!

I had no idea where to start on this recipe – none of my recipe books had any suggestions and so I spent a bit of time searching the internet and came across this recipe on another blog – Host the Toast  – I used this as a starting point and went from there.

Fish Tacos, Guacamole and Mango Salsa 

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For the fish you will need:

So using Host the Toasts (HtH) recipe as a guide I used cod fillets chopped into cm square chunks, a teaspoon each of paprika, cumin, oregano, brown sugar and chilli powder. I’m not proud of this next bit –  HtH used onion powder and garlic powder and I couldn’t find either in my local shop, so I read the back of the taco seasoning that came with the shells I bought and it had both of those ingredients in it so I added two tiny teaspoons of the premixed seasoning as well.

For the guacamole  you will need:

A ripe avocado (I had my chef moment here when my avocado was perfectly ripe and I managed to half it perfectly – normally I make a proper mess scraping around the stone), spring onion, red chilli, lime juice

For the mango salsa you will need: 

Ripe mango, more red chilli, a bit more spring onion and more lime juice 

Quick and easy to make:

This one took quite a bit of prep but the actual making of the dinner was simple. First of all cut the fish into smallish pieces – remove the skin. Mix all the spices in a bowl with a pinch of salt and the sugar and then add the fish – toss it in the spice mix until its thoroughly coated then set aside until you are ready to cook.

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For the guacamole halve your avocado – here is a really professional photo of how it’s done…!

IMG_9095Remove the stone and squeeze the flesh from the skin into a bowl, add the spring onions, chilli and lime juice and mix, mashing the avocado down as you do. Its so satisfying!

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Then prepare the mango salsa. I used about half the mango, chopped into small cubes, add to a bowl with the rest of the chilli, spring onion and another squeeze of lime juice. Set aside to let the flavours mix together.

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When you a ready to cook – heat some oil in a pan and add the fish – I actually added some baby corn to mine but its personal taste and its definitely not needed. Cook for about 5-10 mins until the fish is cooked through.

Then build your tacos!I used pre-prepared shells – because who has time to do otherwise after a long day at work and a hungry husband. I put the fish on the bottom, followed by the mango and topped with guacamole. I didn’t even add any cheese – just kept it really simple and fresh with the mango and the guacamole.

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The only thing I would change is next time I’d make my own spice mix from scratch! Mr Gem said the only thing he would change is he would have had more of them! Definitely a keeper!

Posted in cooking, filling food, Fish, Food, rice

Kedgeree – technically breakfast at dinner time!

Carbohydrates, particularly pasta and rice, have been my very good friend since I moved out of my parents home and started having to fend for myself – initially as a cheap way to fill up a poor student but then I grew to love the variety of shapes and sizes and textures – I swear pasta shells taste so much better than fusilli .

I tried so hard to ditch them in the run up to my wedding, but I’ve been more than making up for it since! I have been doing all I can to enjoy a carbfest without the side dish of guilt, so making little changes like swapping white rice for brown and to be honest you don’t really notice the difference!

Kedgeree is something I’ve never tried, certainly not in the true traditional sense as a breakfast, I’m a delicate sole (that was a genuine typo, but I do enjoy a good pun so it’s staying put) and smoked fish and curried rice in the morning is more than my stomach can handle.

As a quick midweek dinner after a long day at work though…lets give it a whirl!

Smoked Haddock Kedgeree 

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You will need:

Smoked fish – I used haddock but I think any smoked white fish would work, rice, onions, green chilli, cardamom pods, curry powder, boiled eggs, lemon, butter and something green to have on the side if you like a variation in colour on your plate – otherwise it is very yellow.

So easy to make:

I followed the basic steps from this recipe on Guardian Food but reading around it does seem quite an intuitive process and really if you can cook rice and fish you don’t really need a recipe.

So cook the rice according to the instructions on the packet and leave to one side with the lid sealed on. In the meantime pop the fish in a shallow pan, skin side up covered with water, over a low heat and leave for 10 minutes. When its done, remove from the water and pop on kitchen towel to cool.

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Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the onion, fry until soft and add the chilli, cook for a couple of minutes and then crush two cardamom pods and add to the onion and chilli along with a tablespoon of curry powder.

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Flake the fish from the skin, and add the rice to the curried onions and mix well. Then stir through the fish and serve with two halves of boiled egg on top, a wedge of lemon to squeeze over and greens of your choice.

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It was absolutely delicious – still not convinced about having it as a breakfast though.

 

Posted in cooking

Week 9 – Chilli Salad Bowls

A Sunday evening of ‘blogmin’ and I happened across this old post from about 2 years ago.

This is up there with one of my favourite midweek recipes, so easy to make and such a lovely twist on a salad. With summer coming up and warmee nights you don’t always feel like a stodgy pasta dish, so it’s a perfect recipe to revisit!

Definitely one for this weeks shopping list!

Kitchen Gems

So I begin this weeks post with a wistful sigh – I do not have a picture to share this week – you will have to be content with looking at an image I have shamefully stolen from the world wide web. I lost my phone in the back of a taxi over the weekend and haven’t seen it since. Luckily its insured but whilst I’m waiting for the cheque to clear I feel utterly bereft. Everyone keeps telling me ‘after a couple of days you’ll feel liberated’ but I genuinely believe that I’m not that enlightened as a person – I need my phone. Anyway, I did have some great pics of this weeks dinner but as I said we’ll just have to do without – next time I make it I’ll reblog this with my own pics!

Update 11/3/13 – I just plugged in my new phone and…

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Posted in cooking

The Prodigal Blogger

I really am so bad at this blogging thing. I’ve just struggled to find the time to write recently it tends to take up a lot of time planning a wedding! And to be fair I haven’t really been eating much interesting food, having to stand up in front of all your friends and family in a fabulous white dress tends to put the kibosh on delicious food, and sends you down a road of salad and reduced carbs, which I imagine is even less interesting to read about than it is to eat.

However – it’s now May, the deed is done, I am officially Mrs Gem, which is crazy – but we had an absolutely amazing day, celebrating with all our family and friends

Mr and Mrs Gem
Mr and Mrs Gem
So we had a minimoon in the Lake District where we ate some of the most incredible food which got me more inspired than I have been in a long while to start cooking again. One thing that we tried for the first time in the Lake District was fried Polenta and this is the inspiration for my first dish back on the blog.

Beef and Ricotta Burger with sun-dried tomato relish and beaded Polenta fries 

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This meal was really inspired by the Polenta canapés we had on our Minimoon, they were served deep-fried with truffle mayonnaise. I wanted to create a Friday night dinner so nothing too posh, but still a bit of a treat after a long first week back at work after the wedding and minimoon.

Polenta Fries

You will need:

Ready made Polenta (or you can make it from scratch but for a Polenta virgin this was easy to use), 1 whisked egg, fine bread crumbs,

Dead easy to make:

Simply cut the Polenta into fries (as chunky or skinny as you like – I went chunky), dunk each fry in the egg and then coat with bread crumbs.

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When they are all breaded, shallow fry in olive oil for 2-3 minutes on each side until they are golden brown and a bit crispy.

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They are mega yummy! I did not attempt my own truffle mayo – but they are really really good dipped in Aioli.

Ricotta Burgers

You will need:

Minced beef, ricotta, spring onion, salt and pepper to taste

Again dead easy to make:

Mix the mince with the ricotta – you want roughly half the amount of ricotta as you have beef, and add the spring onions and salt and pepper.

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Shape into generous burger patties and stick in the fridge until you are ready to use them.

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To cook simply fry in a little olive oil for 6-8 minutes on both side. The ricotta goes a little bit caramelised and you get a fabulous, moist (apologies if that word makes you wince, I hate it too but its late and I can’t think of another word that means the same thing) burger.

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Sun-dried Tomato Relish

You will need:

Sun-dried tomatoes, some form of wine vinegar – the recipe called for sherry vinegar but I didn’t have any so I used white wine vinegar and it tasted just fine, salt and pepper

Literally the most easy thing to make:

Chop the sun-dried tomatoes, mix with a bit of the oil from the tomato jar, add white wine vinegar and season to taste.

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Serve on top of your burger

The recipe for the burgers and relish comes from Nigel Slater’s Eat – which is probably one of the favourite books on my cook book shelf at the moment. I love it because unlike some cookbooks you don’t need an ingredients list that’s as long as your arm, you don’t need to make a trip to a specialist supermarket and you don’t need to spend an awful lot of money. It’s all about simplicity, a few great ingredients, a few simple instructions that even Mr Gem could follow and a delicious end product – what more could you ask for?!

And that is it, a simple start to ease myself back in, but delicious all the same.

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Posted in cooking

Lovely Lamb Souvlaki

I am still on the healthy eating track at the minute and exciting recipes are few and far between, so please excuse the lack of content – I’m sure no one really wants to read about grilled salmon and salad though do they?!

I must admit it’s very hard to stay healthy on a weekend when there is an abundance of opportunities to eat lovely food. For example just yesterday Mr Gem and I went wedding cake tasting! How is a girl supposed to count the calories when she is offered free cake? It was very good though, excited to taste the real thing in 11 weeks (eek!)

Anyway I have been trying where possible to avoid naughty treats by filling up on healthy but tasty meals, so this weeks recipe is my take on Lamb Souvlaki, Greek kebabs. I love Greek food, so much flavour and it just transports me to summer holidays! I hope you enjoy it.

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To make this recipe you will need:
Diced lamb (stewing or leg steak), lemon juice, garlic, dried mint and oregano – simple!

I chopped the lamb steaks into 2cm strips and added into a bowl with the lemon juice, garlic and herbs, gave it a good mix to ensure the lamb was coated and then left it to marinate for an hour or so.

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In the meantime I made up a greek salad using cherry tomatoes, lettuce, red onion, cucumber and feta cheese (reduced fat for me!) I made a dressing from olive oil and white wine vinegar and tossed though the salad and stuck it to one side. I always make salad slightly ahead of time, I hate fridge cold lettuce and tomato, I like it to come up to room temperature a bit.

Once the lamb was marinated I threaded it on skewers with some onions and mushrooms and popped under the grill for about 15 mins, turning and basting with the marinade every few minutes when I remembered.

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We had these kebabs with flatbreads, hummus and tazatziki with the salad and they were absolutely delicious!! The meat was tender from the marinade and the lemon and herbs came through nicely. The salad and dips just finished it off nicely.

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Calorie wise all in was around 600, but you could remove the flatbread to make it less if you wish, but sometimes, you need a bit of bread!

Happy cooking!!