Posted in aubergine, cooking

Week 18: Lamb Chops with Ratatouille and Chocolate Souffle

Oh dear. Oh dear. I am a terrible blogger. I miss a week, then I miss two, then three and before you know it I can’t even remember what I’ve cooked. Bad Gem…must try harder.

So, embarrassingly I’m writing this from so long ago I can’t even remember what I cooked, luckily though I have my trusty photo’s and Mr Gem to help me through this marathon blogging session. Its like leaving all your homework til 8pm on a Sunday, you know its going to make Sunday evening hell, but you just can’t help but put things off.

So in Week 18 we picked up some Lamb Chops in the supermarket. I never know what to do with chops, for me there isn’t enough meat on them and too much fat, but this blog is all about trying new things so I decided to give them a whirl. I’m not really a fan of meat and two veg so I always look for alternatives, I had some courgettes and aubergines and feta so thought that it would be nice to simply grill the lamb chops and serve them with a Greek style ratatouille – by which I mean I found a recipe for Ratatouille, added some oregano and lemon juice and topped it with feta.

To make this slightly thrown together, but healthy and really quite tasty dish I rubbed the lamb chops with oil, seasoned with salt, pepper, lemon juice and oregano and popped them under the grill for about 15 minutes, if my memory serves me rightly this cooked the chops medium, nicely pink in the middle but without the blood. I’m sure other foodie bloggers out there would disagree with me but I can’t think of anything less appetizing than a hunk of meat sitting in a bloody gravy, so I cook my meat medium.

The Ratatouille of course came from Delia (where else?!) and the recipe can be found here – as I mentioned above I added some oregano and lemon juice to give it that greek twist.

I served the lamb and ratatouille sprinkled with feta cheese – Mr Gem also had a helping of cous cous but I stuck with the meat and sauce.

My verdict for this dish would be a 6.5 out of 10 – not the most glamorous of dinners but perfectly serviceable for a healthy midweek dinner that tastes good with minimal effort. Mr Gem loves anything that has lamb and/or aubergine in it so was quite happy.

My other recipe for the week was less successful unfortunately. I’ve been fancying chocolate souffle for some time, found a recipe and decided to give it a whirl. The recipe was from Delia again, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The recipe is here, it calls for 75% dark chocolate, eggs, rum, double cream and butter – but because you use such dark chocolate there was no sweetness to the souffles. I mixed all the ingredients as the recipe instructed, popped it in the oven and Bob’s your uncle. They rose perfectly but to be honest they were dry, bitter and not something I’d every make again. However, I do want to achieve the perfect souffle so I’ll be on the look out for new recipes! Any recommendations welcomed.

Ok, so now I have to go and write Week 19, 20, 21 and 22…might do a bit of a combo – it’s not cheating as long as I’ve made the food – which I have!


Posted in aubergine, baking, cupcakes, Jamie Oliver, spinach, strawberries, sweet potato chips, trout

Week 10 – Strawberry Cupcakes, Aubergine Parmigiana and Spicy Trout Fillets

Well… Week 10 is going to be a bumper post with 3 new recipes tried – and more importantly 2 new foods that I’ve never tried before.
First of all though apologies that this post is late – I usually write them on a Sunday but to be completely frank I was far to hungover yesterday to even consider writing about food. As a result I also ate some terrible things and I’m not at all hopeful about this weeks weigh in…anyway I digress.
This week I was faced with the challenge of what to do with trout fillets, a vegetable that I have never liked and therefore never cooked with and a bit of Sunday baking – so let’s jump straight in with the baking, because lets face it, cakes always go down well, whereas aubergine may not!
Strawberry Cupcakes:
A few weeks ago I made the mistake of freezing some fresh strawberries, thinking that they would last longer – however when I defrosted some to have with yoghurt for a healthy breakfast they were awful, really mushy and a bit slimy in texture – so the rest of the punnet stayed in the freezer until I could find something to do with them.
I recently treated myself to a new cookery book – Cakes, Bakes and Cupcakes (other booksellers are available!) and it is amazing – you know you’ve got a good cookbook when you could eat almost everything in it, anyway I found  recipe for strawberry cupcakes in my new book so decided to give it a whirl. I couldn’t find a link to this online so here is the recipe (or at least the ingredients – the method is just how I did it)

200g Fresh Strawberries
200g Caster Sugar
150g Unsalted Butte
3 eggs
200g self raising flours 1/2 tsp baking powder
50 ml Butter milk (I used coconut milk as I didn’t have buttermilk)
Put the strawberries and 50g sugar in a bowl, sealed with cling film and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water.
Then make the cakes up mixing the the remaining ingredients together. Separate into cake cases and bake in the oven at 190 degrees for 20 minutes. Meanwhile the strawberries should be melting into a syrup with the sugar.
When the cakes come out of the oven, prick them with a cocktail stick and then drizzle the syrup over them so it soaks through. When the cakes have fully cooled, top them with a butter cream topping – I added some strawberry syrup to my frosting to make it a bit flavoured and give it a bit of colour.
The cakes were so delicious I will definitely be making these again although I may try a few other recipes out of my book first! 
The only thing I would change is the fact that I slipped a bit when adding the syrup to the butter cream and when I tried to ice them it went a bit flat…but I’ll know for next time. Definitely a treat for a birthday party – or just a Sunday!

Aubergine Parmigiana:
In last weeks post I mentioned that I had bought an aubergine from the supermarket and was a bit concerned that I neither like aubergine nor know what to do with one… luckily for me, my good friend Amy read my post and suggested I try Aubergine Parmigiana as an easy dish for an aubergine virgin. 
I had a quick look through my books and found a recipe in Jamie’s Itay – there is a similar version here. I really enjoyed the process of making this recipe not only because I was using an ingredient I have never used before but the griddling of the aubergine until it was charred felt very Mediterranean and a bit cheffy! 
It’s a really simple meal to make, all you need to do is griddle the aubergines until they are charred on both sides, layer it up in an oven dish with the tomato sauce and Parmesan, top with breadcrumbs and bake in the oven, I also popped a few slices of sliced fresh mozzarella on the top whilst it baked. 

I have to admit when I sat down to eat it I was a bit dubious about whether I would like it – but after the first forkful I was converted. The aubergine was lovely and the whole meal was delicious and really filling – so thank you to Amy for the recommendation, I will definitely be making this again – its the perfect midweek meal and so satisfying. 
Mr Gem really enjoyed this meal, you can tell when he really enjoys it as he doesn’t say a great deal whilst he’s eating it! 
Spiced Trout with Sweet Potato Chips:
My final new dish for this week was spiced trout, this was another random ingredient chosen under the slight haze of a hungover visit to the supermarket.
I have never cooked or eaten trout before so I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it, I didn’t really want to put it in a stew or a pie or anything as I wanted to actually taste the flavour of the trout. 
I found the recipe on BBC Good Food and whilst it looked simple it looked very tasty – plus it included sweet potato chips, I love sweet potato – I think I’d rather have sweet potato than normal potato most of the time.
To cook the trout I mixed flour with Cajun spices and then coated the fish in the spiced flour. Then I chopped sweet potatoes into chips, coated in olive oil and baked in the oven for 30 minutes until they were just getting a little charred on the edges. When the chips were almost done I fried the trout in hot oil whilst I steamed some spinach. 
The trout was lovely, really crispy skin and with just a hint of the spices which went well with the sweet chips. Mr Gem is a big big fan of crispy skin so he was particularly happy with this meal. 
I’d definitely cook trout again, I quite like trying different fish – especially since we’re often told not to have too much cod and salmon due to over fishing and trout is a really nice flavoured fish. 

Anyway – that’s all for Week 10 – see you in Week 11!