Archive | January, 2013

Chermoula-Marinated Monkfish Tagine

30 Jan

What was that? Did I hear you all just begging me for another main meal recipe?

Well here I do not disappoint!

I know, I know… And the love and I have pledged to make something luxuriously sweet this weekend, but I won’t (can’t actually) apologise for the semi-predictability of late. Not here anyway, as this is special.

Although I have simplified and adapted the original recipe, it still takes a bit of work, but the flavours combine so perfectly to create a meal that is healthy and utterly worth it. It’s good mood food! I think it would be great for a dinner party or other special occasion as well, because well, monkfish is not cheap, and much of the dish can be prepared in advance, so stress-free entertaining and all that!

Of course, you could use other fish in its place, although I doubt you will find anything truly similar to monkfish. This was my first experience with it, and I’ve heard it’s meaty but I was still surprised at just how dense it actually is! I would recommend a white fish that isn’t too too delicate, like sea bass, haddock, halibut or cod.

I like to make the chermoula, prepare the pepper and parboil the potatoes when I have a minute earlier in the day – that way there is plenty of marinating time for the monkfish, and later on when you’re ready to eat it will only take about half an hour to complete 🙂

Serves 2.

For the Chermoula:

  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • good pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed, or ground cumin
  • 1/2 fresh red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp coriander and/or parsley, chopped
  1. Either bash everything together in a large pestle and mortar, or whiz in a food processor/blender!

For the Rest:

  • 400g monkfish tail
  • 250g small new potatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 green pepper, blackened, skinned and cut into strips (or use a few ready-roasted peppers from a jar!)
  • handful of black olives
  • 1/2 home-made preserved lemon (or 1 shop-bought), thinly sliced
  1. Rub most the chermoula (leaving about 1 tbsp for cooking) all over the fish, and place in a shallow dish to marinate for at least 1 hour in the fridge, though I wouldn’t leave it overnight personally. 
  2. Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, put the potatoes in a saucepan full of boiling, salted water and cook for about 10 minutes to soften them a little – you don’t want them fully cooked at this stage. Set aside.
  3. Heat a little oil in a tagine or heavy-based saucepan. Add the garlic and tomatoes, cooking over a medium heat until the garlic is browned and the tomatoes have softened a little. Add the pepper, preserved lemons, olives, potatoes and reserved chermoula, mixing everything together well.
  4. Finally, place the fish on top, pour in 100ml water, cover with a lid and steam for about 25 minutes until the fish is cooked through. You may want to serve this with couscous or good crusty bread to mop up the juices, and you may want to use less potatoes if you choose to do so – obviously personal choice!



I must finish with a cautionary tale! My first tagine had a very short life. I was so excited to use it that I neglected curing it before use. It’s not hard to do and many more tagines will have the opportunity to live fulfilling lives if this customary measure is carried out. Also, be patient when applying heat to the tagine. Don’t add hot food to a cold tagine or cold food to a hot tagine. When placing it on the hob or in the oven, start from a cool temperature and gradually increase. I feel I should start a campaign… ‘Tagine Care Awareness’? No? Okay, well this information would have helped me a few months ago anyway 🙂 enjoy!


Now the frost is thawing.

28 Jan

To date, this is the longest I have neglected my blog for! I have really hated being absent for so long, but I’ve been feeling pretty uninspired.

It’s been a gloomy start to the year, and not just for me. A huge amount of people seem to have been down in the dumps lately, and that doesn’t help the mood of somebody who is very susceptible to other people’s dispositions. The snow! The ice! The rain! The floods! The assignments! The things that go on behind closed doors! All of these things and more have had an impact on my usually (these days) contented and comfortable self.





So as a sorry result of all this, I have been less ‘gung-ho!’ in the kitchen, opting for basic meals and not taking the time to experiment with extras. Actually, the main meals I’ve been banging out have been pretty damn good if I do say so! I’ve made turkey burgers, black bean chilli, cart driver’s spaghetti, stuffed giant pasta shells and chicken stroganoff… all delicious and I will post the recipes for them at some point, but that’s pretty much all I’ve posted for what seems like forever, and I’m boring myself let alone you guys! I really wanted my next post to be a glorious sweet, but as yet, sorry – let down! So instead I thought I’d offer a bit of explanation, and a few highlights from the last week or so.





Yes, there have been highlights (thank God), and they have been fantastic! Let’s start with my new e-mail friend (whose fun and creative blog can be found at: This lovely lady has become many things, including my American food supplier! 😛 The main reason I choose to mention her here is because she has brought a delicious recipe to my attention which is far too good not to share. It can be found here: Peanut Noodles with Veggies, and without being bossy, I want you all to try your version of it as soon as you can. I made mine with almond butter, ‘normal’ soy sauce, peppers, courgette, spring onions and loads of mushrooms. It takes about 2 seconds to whip up and is about as satisfying as it gets. Kudos to you Hayley (Y)! My picture below does not do the perfection justice.


And I am extremely happy to announce that I am feeling better now 🙂 so I’m hoping that this will set the benchmark to my return to blogging (I know I’m making it sound like I’ve been away for months, haha). This is a big deal though – I feel so much better that I have taken a few massive steps forward! Wait for it… I have been clothes shopping :O and… *drum roll please* made arrangements with friends! Oh yeah, socialising AND making an effort with my appearance – two things that definitely aren’t run of the mill in my usual daily schedule! I’m so proud of my purchases that I’d like to share a few of my favourites with you 🙂




The last thing I’d like to share is about Tamatanga, an Indian restaurant the love and I went to in Nottingham. It’s been quite a while since we did anything like this, and we’d actually planned to go to Carluccio’s. But like the wazzocks we are, we didn’t think to book a table in advance, and typically it was fully booked all night. Then came the nightmare of searching for a restaurant that had spare seats available! For such a huge city, I found it really strange how few restaurants there were! It’s no wonder they were all crammed. Anyway, it worked out nicely as we found this place (one table for 2 left!) and the food was delicious. Not only that, but I got to try 2 dishes that have been on my ‘to try’ list for a very long time – butter chicken and gulab jamun. The curry was nice, but the dessert was incredible 🙂 The love had the same dessert but had Goan fish curry for his main – a favourite of mine! We also had a cocktail each, and they were perfect. Actually… we ordered two, but as the second lot came round with the desserts, our waitress decided to make some snide comment that put me off mine. I truly hate when people give their opinions in completely inappropriate circumstances. So the love drank 3 in the end… Shame, as like I said, they were perfect and it did put a slight downer on a fantastic day out. Oh! I haven’t yet mentioned the peshwari naans we had on the side. If heaven is a bread product… I could cry thinking about them :’) Great value and relaxed, comfortable atmosphere. I would recommend it for sure 🙂 but maybe vet the waiting staff first? Just an idea…


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No picture of the gulab jamun or the cocktails I’m afraid – they were eaten/drunk excitably before the camera even had a chance 😦 and I know the mains look exactly the same, couldn’t even tell you which was which, haha. Ah well…

I hope that those of you reading have had a much brighter start to your year, and if you have, I’m catching up with you now! Woop 😛

The sun is out and they’re even selling daffodils in Asda…

Oh, Oh! I’m sorry Sam! I promised to tell you all about the lovely banana bread he made 🙂 he used this recipe: healthy banana bread, and I have to say, I may even prefer it to the one I made (recipe is on here somewhere)… That’s not to say mine isn’t the bomb of course 😉 but it is more of a treaty bread, whereas the love made this virtuous yet delectable loaf! Fantastic sliced and spread with butter. Mmm… He is also responsible for the gorgeous wintery pictures at the start of this post. I’ve had lots of compliments about them but I can’t take the credit! Clearly, he’s been on fire this month!


Watch this space!

Puy Lentil Bolognese

20 Jan

For an unashamed omnivore, I post so many vegetarian recipes!

I think it’s because there is so much more variety of flavours and textures to be found in vegetarian produce – it’s exciting!

This is a new MEGA-FAVOURITE! I may even prefer it to regular bolognese sauce.

Most of the recipes that I looked at before I made this took quite a long time to cook (using dried lentils), and none of them used puy!!! Being a very passionate puy lover and impatient to eat that night, I had to put this right. It is so right!! 🙂

Serves 2-4 – (Really, it serves 4, but the love and I ate all of it. It is so right!! 😛 It’s so healthy too, it really is just something that had to be done)

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • pinch of celery salt
  • 250g ready to eat puy lentils (I used Merchant Gourmet with porcini and thyme, but I will include porcini and thyme in the ingredients list assuming you can’t find this)
  • 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • small handful of dried porcini mushrooms, crumbled into 100ml boiling water
  • Spaghetti and freshly grated parmesan, to serve
  1. Heat some olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and and the onion. Soften for about 5 minutes, then add the carrots, garlic and celery salt. Cook for a further 10 minutes until everything is softened (though I like my carrots to retain a little bit of bite). Stir in the lentils, tomatoes, tomato purée, herbs, porcini mushrooms and their soaking water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the mixture has reduced to an unctuous saucy texture (10-15 minutes). 
  2. Now season with pepper and dish up with spaghetti and grated parmesan! It’s that easy! 😀




Pink ‘Scrambled Eggs’

18 Jan

I am going to start by promising you that this meal tastes 1000% better than it looks! All of the flavours and textures work so well together, it really doesn’t matter that it is a very-failed frittata. I had the idea for this flavour combination, and immediately set to it, using the same method for frittata I always use (which always works!!), but clearly I need to work out a new method for this meal to look as beautiful as it tastes. I don’t care though – I’m too busy being femininely thrilled by the pinkness of the whole ordeal to be disappointed by any other aspect of it’s appearance 🙂

You may not be convinced, but would you consider the fact that it may just not photograph well? Up close and personal it is actually expertly crafted and presented?


Serves 4

  • 500g new potatoes, thickly sliced
  • 8 large eggs
  • 200g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 vacuum-packed beetroot, ready to eat, roughly diced
  • 4 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • large handful of dill, chopped
  1. First, bring a pan of salted water to the boil, and cook the potatoes until tender (about 10 minutes). 
  2. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a large bowl. Season well, then add the feta, beetroot, spring onions and dill. Mix well.
  3. When the potatoes are done, drain then from the water with a sieve, then rinse under cold water to cool them down. Add to the egg mixture and stir in well to incorporate.
  4. Add enough oil to cover a large non-stick frying pan in a thin layer. Place over a medium-low heat, then add the egg mixture. *(see below!)
  5. Using a spatula, lift parts of the mixture as they start to cook and scramble the ingredients until the eggs are set to your liking (5-10 minutes). You are now ready to serve up!

*(Now, usually at this stage in the frittata-making process, I would shake the pan a little to encourage setting and even distribution of ingredients. Then I would poke round the sides with a spatula until I was able to lift underneath the obediently-setting frittata. This doesn’t work for me here, so I become impatient and, well, see step 5. I believe a method that would work would be to cook the frittata for about 10 minutes, and then put a plate on top of it, inverting the frittata onto it. Slide it back into the pan and cook for 5 minutes more to finish the underside).


Roast Veg Biryani

15 Jan

I’ve been a poorly panda lately, which has meant a lot of lazily put together meals – invariably pasta.

Good, but not worth posting about.

This is also pretty easily assembled, but there is something very special about it. Despite the majority of ingredients being fairly humble, the addition of saffron and Madras curry paste lift it to another level, and it is one of my favourite things to eat.

The original recipe was one I found in a BBC Good Food magazine (as are many meals that peak my interest – honestly they should sponsor me!), but due to a series of rubbish shops where I somehow forget a third of the ingredients I need for whatever I want to make, this turned out to be a new version! I love it, perhaps even a little bit more 🙂 I use the same method as they suggest however, because it is faultless. The best way to cook rice.


Serves 2

  • 200-250g cauliflower (about 1/2 small cauliflower, trimmed and broken into florets)
  • 1/2 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 500ml hot vegetable stock
  • 1-2 tbsp Madras curry paste
  • pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • pinch of saffron strands
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 130g uncooked basmati rice
  • handful of cherry tomatoes
  • handful of frozen peas
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • handful of cashew nuts (salted if you like!) and raita, to serve
  1. Preheat the oven to 220°c. Pour some vegetable or sunflower oil into a roasting tin and put in the oven to heat up. Add all of the vegetables except the peas and tomatoes (yes I know tomatoes are a fruit, grr), and stir to coat with the oil. Season and put back in the oven for 15 minutes, or until starting to brown.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the stock with the curry paste, chilli flakes, saffron and mustard seeds.
  3. Remove the tin from the oven and lower the temperature to 190°c. Add the rice, peas and tomatoes to the tin, then pour over the stock mixture. Cover with foil, then bake for 30 minutes until the rice is cooked and all of the liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice, check the seasoning and scatter over the cashew nuts. You may also want to add some chopped coriander. Serve with raita 🙂


Raita and cashews not pictured here as the ones I took with them in were rubbish!


Caramelized Fennel Pizza

11 Jan

Sometimes I get hooked on certain ingredients. Generally, I will hear about them and because I haven’t a clue what they are like to eat, it becomes my mission to eat them. I eat them in one guise and I’m not quite sure… It’s not bad at all, but I have a feeling this isn’t the best it could possibly taste.

Fennel is one of these ingredients. I first tried it raw in a few recipes, and I was beginning to think I wasn’t too fond until I saw a recipe for caramelized fennel and onions. Anything tastes better caramelized right? But fennel doesn’t just taste better, it tastes AMAZING.

I have always been a huge fan of anything aniseed or liquorice, and this is just what fennel tastes like when it has been caramelized. That said though, the love does not like liquorice, and he does like this, so. Not sure what’s going on there.

Anyway! I searched Google a little, mashed up a few ideas and came up with this recipe for one of my all-time favourite pizzas!


Serves 2.

For the Dough

  • 200g strong white bread flour
  • 7g packet fast-action dried yeast
  • a little salt
  • 125ml warm water

For the Tomato Sauce (or just use passata)

  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil or mint

For the Topping

  • 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 ball mozzarella cheese, sliced (store the rest in a tub of water for a day or two)
  • handful of pitted black olives, roughly chopped
  1. To make the base, put the flour and about 1/4 tsp salt into a large bowl. Add the yeast to the opposite side of the bowl to the salt. (If placed directly on top of each other, the salt will kill the yeast). Gradually add the water and mix it into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon. When it is starting to come together, knead the dough with your hands until it is smooth and springy (about 10 minutes for me). Shape it into a ball, then cover the bowl (with the dough still inside!) with oiled cling-film, and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until doubled in size.
  2. Meanwhile, heat some oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, herbs and a little salt and black pepper. Cook for around 20 minutes  or until softened and golden.
  3. Heat some oil in another pan over medium heat, and add the garlic. Fry until fragrant, then add the tomatoes and basil or mint. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until reduced to a spreadable consistency. Preheat the oven to 220°c.
  4. Dust a clean work surface with flour, then take the dough from the bowl and place it on there. Knock back the dough by briefly kneading it to push out the air. Divide the dough into two and roll them into whatever shape of pizza your heart desires, pinching the dough around the sides to make a little wall :3 (just to stop anything dripping off the base – it forms a good ‘crusty bit’). 
  5. Spread the tomato sauce up to the ‘crusty bit’, then top with the fennel mixture, followed by the mozzarella and olives.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until crispy and browned. ENJOY!!!


Banana Bread with Macadamias and Coconut

7 Jan

To me, banana bread has the headiest, most irresistible scent in the world of cooking and baking. It might even overtake rosemary… but that would be a close call.

This is my first go at making it, but it definitely won’t be the last as I am overwhelmed by variations of the recipe that I want to try! Plus, it is so, so easy and cheap to make.

Here are some of my ideas:

  • Banoffee bread
  • Pineapple topping (dried)
  • Chocolate (although I do usually believe that chocolate and fruit should stay away from each other. Once you think Nutella your mind plays tricks on you to make it happen)
  • Fresh strawberries or blueberries in the Summer
  • Butterscotch chips
  • Coffee
  • Pumpkin
  • Apple juice to add moisture and make a healthier loaf…

The sorry thing is that I could go on!

Anyway, this in no way means that the ingredients I have chosen for this particular banana bread are not heavenly and delectable. Using macadamia nuts and coconut was at the top of my ideas list, but now of course it has been crossed off! Substitute whatever nuts you like, though I would suggest macadamias or brazils for a slightly tropical feel like this one has. I chose sweetened flaked coconut and scattered it over the top of the loaf before baking, to give an ‘almost icing’. I also didn’t want to confuse the textures in the main body of the bread.


Cuts into 8 (as marked by banana chips!)

  • 3 ripe bananas, peeled
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 140g butter, softened
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 100g halved macadamias (bashed or whizzed into smaller pieces, if you like)
  • sweetened coconut flakes, to scatter
  • 8 dried banana chips, to mark portions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment. 
  2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas and the sugar with a potato masher. And the eggs and mix well to incorporate fully, then add the butter and do the same. Add the flour and baking powder and again, mix until everything is well combined. Tip in the macadamias and mix once more before pouring it into the loaf tin. Shake over some sweetened coconut flakes for a lovely texture, and mark 8 portions, each with a dried banana chip.
  3. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and a half (mine took 1 hour 10 minutes) until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack.


Leftovers will keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container 🙂

A final word is that, when searching for banana bread recipes, I noticed wide variations in the amounts of ingredients used. Some people used 2 bananas and no sugar, while others used 4 bananas and 250g! It is all about taste, so go by how much your sweet tooth nags you. I found 150g to be just fine. And I ate mine with butter. Mmm!!!