Posted in comfort food, cooking, Food

Week 16 – Prawn and Chorizo Paella

It has to be said that new blog posts are a bit like buses on Kitchen Gems – nothing for weeks and then 2 come along at once!! However read it and weep because here is my second post of the evening! And its a goody so I’ll get right on it without any more preamble.

Prawn and Chorizo Paella

Perfect with a glass of wine!

Now I call this Paella but its more of a cross between a Paella and a Risotto because I can’t get the crispy bottom on my Paella as I don’t have the right pan…

I loosely followed a recipe from Good Food Websitebut essentially to make a good paella you need risotto or paella rice, stock, and anything to flavour it plus fish and meat. This was a great recipe though and the flavour was incredible.

I love the colours and flavours in Spanish cooking

To make the base of the paella fry the onion, garlic and chorizo over a low heat until the onions have softened. Then add the rice and stir thoroughly so the rice is coated with all the lovely flavours. Then add your stock – all in one go (which is so much easier than a risotto – no relentless stirring) and flavours and vegetables then simmer until the rice has soaked up most of the liquid and is cooked through. Just before serving add your cooked prawns just long enough for them to warm through – don’t leave them in too long or they go so hard and rubbery and not nice.

To serve squeeze a lemon wedge over the dish.

I love paella and risotto so I’m biased but I thought this recipe was simple to make, lovely to eat. Mr Gem really enjoyed this one as well so I think its a keeper!!

Posted in baking, comfort food, filling food, Food, Jamie Oliver

Week 11: Mother’s Day lunch…

Mother’s Day – a date that is emblazoned on our brains from a young age. You do NOT forget Mother’s Day. Father’s Day, you’d be forgiven for forgetting Father’s Day but not Mother’s Day.

This year it was our turn to go to Mr Gem’s family for Mother’s Day and he had the lovely idea that we should cook a meal for his mum, lovely hey? Except that by we he meant me with a bit of help from him!

However because I was cooking in a strange kitchen I didn’t take any photos – but what I can tell you is what I made and how it went down!

What you need to know about Mr Gem’s family is that the men don’t really like the type of food that I cook, i.e. Asian flavours, spice, chilli, garlic…so I had to really step outside my comfort zone to come up with a menu everybody would enjoy.

So – for starters I decided on South American Fishcakes. This was a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s website this was my little rebellion, little nods to the food that I like with strong citrus flavours. So easy to make but a little odd – you poach the fish in milk but then throw the milk away…which seems a little wasteful to me but for a special occasion I went with it. Once the fish is cooked you mix it and the mashed potatoes with all the other ingredients, divide it into balls, roll in flour and shape into patties. Simple! You’re supposed to deep fry the fishcakes but I didn’t have enough oil so i shallow fried them which meant that they stuck to the bottom of the pan a little but they tasted great – I’d make these again!

Mains. I didn’t want to make a roast, oh no that would be too easy. I decided on spare ribs, coleslaw and cornbread. Easy peasy. Except my ribs where so fatty that the fat ran out of the ribs into the sauce which didn’t thicken and I had to get Mr Gem’s mum to help me. Nevertheless the sauce was delicious – I adapted a recipe from Simon Rimmer’s recipe – cocoa cola ribs but used pork ribs rather than beef ribs. They were absolutely delicious. The cornbread was kind of stodgy but I love the flavour of it so would make it again. Mr Gem prepared the coleslaw and of course it was delicious!

Finally pudding – well for a Mother’s Day lunch I had to turn to the queen of puddings – Mary Berry. I went with a lemon tart. I’m still not great with pastry – in fact I’ve asked Mother Gem for a master class – she makes great pastry – although when I spoke to her about shrinkage when blind baking she sniffed ‘oh no – I don’t bother with blind baking, who has time?’ but in fairness she’s never produced a soggy bottomed pud! Anyway I digress, so I thought I’d go with a shop bought pastry (again) I think I’m done with shop bought, it always shrinks, as it did on this occasion. Pastry aside the lemon filling was delicious and light. I served it with strawberries and the flavours were fab!

But my opinion doesn’t count – the proof was in the eating and the opinion of the family, I think they liked it, the fishcakes all went, the tart all went, the ribs where a bit fatty and I think that put people off. All in all, not bad! I’m better with my spices I reckon – so next week I’ll be back to what I know!

Posted in beef, comfort food, cooking, filling food, Food, low calorie

Week 9 – Chilli Salad Bowls

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 amazingly the chilli salad bowl photo’s had backed up so happily I can update today with my own pictures!

Chilli Salad Bowls


Mr Gem and I are on something of a health kick but I really wanted something tasty and not overly salad based. I’ve been watching a lot of The Hairy Dieters so when I was looking for a new recipe I went straight to BBC food to see if I could find something tasty but healthy. And I did – these healthy chilli salad bowls are a real treat – you can find the recipe here. I loved the idea that you make an edible chilli bowl and using a tortilla – such a simple idea!

The recipe was simple to make – preheat the oven and make a ball out of tin foil to mold your tortillas around. To cook the chilli add the mince, onion, and garlic over a medium heat until the meat browns, then add the spices and cook for a couple of minutes. Finally stir in the puree and sugar and stock and then leave to simmer over a low heat.


Whilst the chilli is simmering away mold your first tortilla over the tinfoil ball and cook in the oven until its slightly crispy and holds its shape. You need to keep an eye on it as they turn really quickly. In between cooking the tortillas prepare the salad in a large bowl, mixing it all together with the lime juice and set aside.


Once the tortillas are all cooked you can layer it all together. Add a layer of salad at the bottom of the tortilla ‘bowl’ then a layer of hot chilli, then top with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese and a dollop of half fat creme fraiche! These little dishes are absolutely delicious and really filling – I had just one and it was fine for a main meal – although Mr Gem had two but he’s a growing boy!

Health wise they are around 375 calories per bowl.

I would definitely recommend giving these a try – I just love the fact that you get to eat the bowl! I also think that they’d be good party food, if you made them with little tortillas they’d be great snacks for a party or movie night.

Posted in comfort food, cooking, filling food, Food, Jamie Oliver, stew

Week 8 – Beef in Black Sheep Pie

Last year I took Mr Gem to the beautiful village of Masham in North Yorkshire for his birthday and we did a tour of the Black Sheep Brewery whilst we were there. I’m not really a big beer drinker, I don’t mind the odd one but as a general rule I’m more of a gin girl but even I found the tour incredibly interesting, I even enjoyed a half pint of Golden Sheep Ale which went down surprisingly well after all that talk of beer!

Beef in Black Sheep Pie


I’ve wanted to cook beef in beer pie for a while now, I had one bookmarked in Jamie’s Great Britain, but a proper pie needs time and attention and cold, miserable weather so that you can really appreciate how comforting a good pie is, luckily Sunday was a quiet, cold and miserable day and I got to make my pie!

The recipe for this pie can be found in Jamie’s Great Britain and here. In true Jamie style the ingredient list is pretty long but for the pie filling its worth it. I’ll be honest and admit for the second time in two weeks I used shop bought pastry, but for good reason, because Mr Gem wanted a puff pastry topping rather than shortcrust and frankly, life is too short to make puff pastry.

The recipe takes around 3 hours to make from start to finish but its worth it, plus the house gets all warm and cosy and smells amazing. Mr Gem was slightly perturbed when I started cooking tea straight after we’d cleaned up after lunch but I love a Sunday spent in the kitchen!

The first stage of the cooking is to brown the beef and onion in the herbs and a bit of oil and butter, once the beef is browned add the beer, tomato puree and stock and flour and then simmer for an hour. I used a bottle of Riggwelter from the Black Sheep Brewery – its a really dark beer that I could never drink but in a stew it has a really deep flavour which goes perfectly with the beef stock.


After the first hour of cooking is done stir in the barley and simmer for another hour (honestly this recipe is more about the waiting than actually cooking – I watched an entire Harry Potter film whilst this cooked!)

Once the second hour is done stir in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce and cheese – go easy on the mustard though, I was a bit heavy handed and it was a touch overpowering. Give the dish a good stir and then ladle into your pie dish and top with the pastry. Give the pastry a brush over with milk or egg and whack the whole dish in the oven for another hour or so.


Once the pastry is golden brown serve with green veggies – you wouldn’t need any potato with this because the pastry and barley make it pretty stodgy. It was absolutely amazing, stodgy, warm, comforting, filling…I literally ate half a plate full and was stuffed.


Perfect comfort food for a cold and dreary Sunday.

Posted in comfort food, cooking, filling food, Food

Week 7: Leek and Caerphilly Crumble

Hello and welcome to week 7! This weeks recipe was partially inspired by a lovely savoury crumble recipe posted by the lovely Johnny – which you can read all about here – who got me thinking that a savoury crumble would be the sort of comfort food I would love to eat. It was also partially inspired by a fridge full of leeks purchased on a hung over shopping trip. I should learn not to shop when I’m tired hungover probably still drunk, but I found a recipe which allowed me to turn an abundance of leeks into, and I quote, “The best Monday night tea I have ever had” according to Mr Gem anyway.

Leek and Caerphilly Crumble


As I said I had an abundance of leeks and a distinct lack of funds so this recipe suited me down to the ground, I found it on the Good Food Website – it was so simple to make (I used shop bought pastry as it was a school night but I’d make it with home-made pastry in future as I think it tastes better).

The recipe was easy to make, chop the leeks and fry them in butter then leave to cool. I added garlic to the leeks. I also cooked some leftover bacon under the grill until it was crispy to add the sauce. Whilst the leek and bacon are cooling beat the eggs, mustard, seasoning and cheese together, I also added the bacon chopped into strips to the egg and cheese mix. Line the leeks on the bottom of the blind baked pastry case then pour the cheese and egg mixture over and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Whilst the pie is in the oven mix the breadcrumbs, cheese and nuts together, after 20 minutes take the cooked pie out of the oven, top with the crumble and add back to the oven for 10 mins until its golden brown and crusty.


I served with a side salad in a weak attempt to offset the pastry, cheese diet killer! Calorie count aside this was a delicious midweek dinner and the leftovers at lunch the next day were even better. I forget how much I enjoy a good pie, I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for another pie recipe soon. And of course thanks to Johnny for the inspiration!

Posted in comfort food, cooking, filling food, Food

Week 6: Chicken and Cider Casserole

Week 6 already! I can’t believe how quickly the weeks are flying by. We’re already partway through February but it feels like Christmas was only a couple of weeks ago. It is still quite wintery and cold outside though – especially today with a (hopefully) final dumping of snow here so it feels fitting that this week’s recipe is of the hearty and warming variety.

This recipe is also quite fitting because I’m going through a phase at the minute with proper cider (none of the sweet mass-produced rubbish thanks very much) so when Mr Gem emailed me a link to this recipe and I saw that cider was a key ingredient I knew I needed to try it!

Chicken Braised in Cider with Celeriac Mash


This recipe was an absolute treat, it contains most of my favourite things, chicken, cider, chorizo, celeriac, cream… you can find the full recipe on the BBC Food Website and I genuinely would recommend anyone to give it a whirl.


I substituted the chicken legs for boneless chicken thighs – I know that meat on the bone retains its flavour and moisture but I can’t eat chicken from the bone, I also added in some garlic that I had left over but other than I kept to the original ingredients list.

To cook this I browned the chicken in a frying pan but added everything into an oven proof dish to cook because I don/t have a pan or dish that is both oven and hob safe, this does mean more washing up, but until I can afford my dream casserole pot Mr Gem will just have to deal with it! All the ingredients for the casserole went into the pot and in the oven for around an hour., Whilst the chicken cooked I commenced battle with the celeriac.

I love celeriac, it has a lovely flavour and texture but I hate preparing it! I ended up peeling it with a carving knife because no other implement in my kitchen would work (please don’t try this at home!) Once I had finally peeled and chopped the celeriac I popped it in a pan with lemon juice and covered with water to boil until it was soft enough to mash with butter and a bit of double cream.

In the time it took to deal with the celeriac, the chicken was almost finished in the oven. At this stage I added a bit of cream and a tiny bit of cornflour paste to thicken the sauce a bit and popped it back in the oven whilst I cooked some greens.


I served the casserole over the mash with sugar snap peas and it was delicious – the cider and chorizo and chicken went so well with the celeriac mash, hands down it was my favourite dish of 2013…so far!


Posted in comfort food, cooking, filling food, Food

Week 14: Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding

Hello and welcome to my incredibly late week 14 post. All I can say is the easter weekend completely threw me out of sync and I didn’t get to do any cooking! I did manage quite a lot of drinking though, so it’s probably for the best that the only time I spent in the kitchen this weekend was to get another glass of wine from the fridge. It’s no wonder I was too tired and emotional to post on Monday!

So, because of the Easter weekend I have only managed to rustle up a measly one dish to blog about this week (apart from an ill-advised roasted vegetable strudel that made me feel quite unwell so I won’t be recommending that!) but what a dish it was!

Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding

I know its pretty unbelievable that for two weeks in a row I have made a roast dinner as my new dish of the week. But its true, I’m not a big roaster! I have made roast beef before but I attempted Yorkshire puddings from scratch! For something as traditional as yorkshire puddings I went straight for Delia’s How to Cook book, you don’t want to do anything fancy with a Yorkshire pud.

But before we get to the yorkshire puddings I need to talk about the beef. It was delicious!

I’m not very confident with cooking roasts, purely because I never really cook them, so I browsed a few of my cook books to find a recipe and eventually settled on the instructions from my Good Housekeeping book. I rolled the beef joint in a mixture of flour, salt and pepper and mustard powder to give it a bit of a flavoured crust and placed it in a roasting dish with a bit of olive oil and an onion for the gravy.  The beef went in the oven for 15 minutes on a high heat, then I turned it down and cooked it  20 minutes per pound and an extra 15 minutes at the end. It came out tender and pink in the middle and after a 20 minutes rest it sliced beautifully – I reckon my dad would be proud of that joint of meat when it came out of the oven!

Veggie wise I boiled sweet potatoes and mashed them, par boiled carrots and then roasted in honey and finally I steamed broccoli and cauliflower and served them with a cheese sauce – I love cauliflower cheese normally, but for some reason my cheese didn’t melt into the white sauce and it was a bit lumpy but tasty!

And finally the Yorkshire’s…I will definitely make them again! In the past I have used an oven ready brand such as Aunt Bessie’s, but honestly, mine were much better and nearly as easy to make as the Aunt Bessie’s versions! I mixed the batter (flour, milk, egg, baking powder), and heated sunflower oil in a pudding tray in the oven until it was really hot, once the oil was smoking I ladled the batter into the oil and put it straight back in the oven for about 20 minutes – in hindsight I could have left them in a little longer but everything else was ready so they were a little pale. Little aside here to add that I have literally never been so excited to see them rising, I was like a little girl watching my first cake in the oven and it was so worth it, I think that out of all the things I’ve made this year, yorkshire puddings could be the most satisfying thing I’ve made so far!

Mr Gem was incredibly impressed with me for making my own puddings, I may have made a rod for my own back here – no more short cuts for me on my roast dinners!

I enjoyed it so much I thought I’d post a second photo of it with gravy!

So a slightly shorter post this week but hopefully no less enjoyable!