Monday, 15 December 2008

My clever neice singing... well sort of!

Monday, 3 November 2008

Halloween Cupcakes
There's been a bit of an explosion in the popularity of cupcakes at the moment. Walk past any bakery worth its salt and you will see the most immaculately decorated, minuscule, cakey, bakey delights in pride of place on display. There's nothing wrong with a cupcake so much so that hundreds of the little treats have been used by some to replace a traditional wedding cake! The best part about baking cupcakes is the decorating; I could go wild if let loose with a spatula and some icing so having a theme helped hone it in a little! though you might disagree! (Pumpkins! If only I had found that orange food dye)
Makes 12
4oz/115g butter, at room temperature
4oz/115g caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
half tsp vanilla extract
4oz/115g self-raising flour Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3. Line a 12-hole cupcake tin with paper cases.
In the food processor or a tabletop mixer, beat the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth.
Turn off the motor and add the flour. With the pulse button, or brief bursts of the beater, mix the flour in, stopping as soon as it is blended.
Divide the mixture between the paper cases.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and springy to the touch.
(recipe from the Times)

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Lemon Meringue Pie
Rolo Brownies
Cup cakes

Recipes to follow!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Sticky Chicken Drumsticks with Home made Baby Potato Cajun Wedges!

What you need for the chicken:
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp tomato purée
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Mix together the wet ingredients till you get a nice thick sauce. Make 2-3 slashes on each of the drumsticks and then pour the marinade over the chicken. Coat thoroughly and then leave to marinade for 30 minutes or overnight (in the fridge).
When ready to cook preheat the oven to 200c and place the chicken into a roasting tray and cook for 35 minutes turning occasionally.
Thats the chicken, feel free to add some cloves of garlic around the roasting chicken if you like or some ginger syrup into the marinade.
For the Cajun wedges:
Baby potatoes
Pinch salt
Cajun spice mix 2 table spoons
2 Tbs olive oil (or garlic oil)
Bring a pot of water to the boil and add a pinch of salt. Boil the potatos for 10-15 minutes until tender and then drain. On a clean board cut the potatoes in to halves length ways. Put potatoes back into empty pot and pour over the oil, cover the pan and shake lighlty until all the potatos are coated then remove lid and sprinkle over the Cajun spice mix. Topple wedges on to a backing tray and bake in the oven at 200c for 30-40 minutes. Check midway between cooking and give them a light shake about.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Another family visitor; that's five down and two to go! This time I had my youngest sister (Mina) over, shes been to Aberdeen before but this time she was here for a little longer. We ate out in Aberdeen a couple of times Yatai is one of my favourite Japanese restaurants and I highly recommend it:

We also had lunch at Soul (333 Union Street, Aberdeen) a former church with original stain glass windows is a good lunch spot, thought the staff aren't great!
One night we got fish and chips from the 'famous' Hilton chipper. I dont make it a habbit to get my tea from a chipper, but if the mood ever does occour this one is the BEST!
"Hilton Road chipper just down fae the six roads is one of the best chippers around mmmmmm....fine"
"The rosehill chipper in its hey-day was suuuuperb, but the back hilton chipper gets my vote..."

"Hilton Road Chipper [was my favurite] when I used to live in Aberdeen, top stuff there"
Just some views on Chip shops from the unofficial Dons Website!

But my favourite part of the visit was our day trip to Glasgow.
We made a real crappy video diary of the day, so have a watch!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

What do you do with a few left over strawberries and a ripe banana?

Strawberry's. Banana chopped. Brown sugar. Double cream. Milk. Whizz. Vanilla ice cream.
Strawberry milkshake done!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Pan fried chicken pasta with feta

I wasn't even going to put this recipe on the blog but have just put my fork down and reconsidered!
Its really good, perfect combination and so simple. Though I reckon you could play about with it a little; I might add juicy sun-blush to this next time.

for 1-2
cooking oil
2 garlic cloves
chicken breast
rock salt
salad onion x2
red chili chopped
good hand full mange-tout (or runner beans)
hand full of salad leaves (rocket and water cress)
whole grain Mezze Maniche pasta (big penne)
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
cubed feta cheese
olives marinated in parsley oil (optional)
Cook pasta according to pack instructions.
Heat some cooking oil in a pan on a medium-low heat and infuse the garlic in the oil for a few minutes. Season the chicken breast lightly and then fry for 5-6 minutes then turn over and cook on the other side for 5-6 minutes. You can make a slit through the breast if it is very thick to check for pinkness. Towards the end of the cooking time add a few nobs of butter to the pan, basting the meat with the oil and butter. Remove from the pan when golden in colour.
Adding a little more butter to the pan if needed fry they salad onions the chopped chili rosemary and mange-tout. Stir fry quickly on a medium high heat for 3-4 minutes, until the beans are tender.
Drain the pasta and drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the top and then add to the pan with the beans. Season with a little rock salt and pepper. Cut the chicken into little pieces and add them to the pan as well. Toss and combine together before carefully mixing in the salad leaves. Turning the heat right down cover the pan for about 3-4 minutes letting the salad wilt a little.
Remove the covering and toss-in the feta cheese and olives if using. Serve in warm bowls.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Nasi Goreng
What's the different between prawns and shrimps? There's apparently an international debate on this point:

What ever you want to call them I brought a pack of our curly pink friends, a big pack of the small variety not normally known to produce as spectacular a result as their much bigger full-bodied cousines/friends/brothers/sisters? But they were perfect for this very quick and no-fuss recipe.

This Indonesian meal is traditionally eaten at breakfast in the far east. I wont be giving up my Cheerios just yet; I love to eat this dish served with some pickled beet root and a variety of chilly sauces!
 Edit *Nasi Goreng paste of a good standard is available in most regular supermarkets now. Substitute it with the red Thai curry paste if you like and then also miss out the Oyster sauce using 2 teaspoons of fish sauce instead.* 

cooking oil
2 eggs (whisked)
2 salad onions chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 chicken breast sliced thinly 
small courgette -chopped into fingers 
pepper chopped
small pack -mange tout
half Cucumber chopped into 1 inch pieces 
red Thai curry paste 2-4 table spoons (brought or your own)
small cooked prawns 200-250g
juice from half lime + wedges to serve
2/3 table spoons fresh coriander
Left over boiled rice (I cooked my rice with peas)
2 table spoons soy sauce
1 table spoon oyster sauce 
2 teaspoons sesame oil

1) Heat some oil in a large non stick pan and add the whisked egg. swirl around the pan so you get a thin layer of the egg, cook until just set then flip over for 30 seconds. Remove from the pan roll up and chop into ribbons.
2) Add a little more oil to the pan and when hot fry the chicken until just sealed. Add the chopped spring onions and garlic, after a few minutes of frying on a medium high heat add the curry paste, frying for a few seconds before adding the courgette and pepper pieces. Stir fry on a medium high heat until the vegetables are just nearly cooked (4-5 min) then add the mange tout, the prawns and the rice to the pan; shake and stir the pan until everything in mixed.
3) Pour in the soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame seed oil and squeeze in the lime juice. Scatter on the coriander and cucumber pieces.
Serve in big bowls with the ribbons of omelet strewn on top and a slice of lime.  

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Peppered Tuna stake with Mash and Oriental vegetables.
I really enjoy tuna steaks, firm, meaty and very easy to cook. A very sensible choice for the rushed cook, tune steaks cook well on a griddle or simply fry in a pan with a little oil just searing the outside so that you don't dry the fish out.
For this recipe:
First drop two large, skinned and chopped potatoes into a pan of salted boiling water and cook until soft (12-15 minuted).
Grind pepper corns on to a plate until it is lightly covered, then place the tuna steaks (brushed with a little light olive oil), on to the ground pepper until they are covered also sprinkle over a pinch of ground salt. Place a pan with a little oil in it on a medium high flame and add the steaks when the oil is heated. Cook this way for 2-3 minutes each side until the pink flesh has just disappeared.

Prepare the mash; Drain the potatoes when soft, snip into the pan two spring onions and some salt and pepper. Next add about 25g of butter and a little milk. Mash.
I made a little oriental style dressing to drip over the asparagus that I served with the tuna (you could use broccoli or green beans instead), by stirring together a little soy sauce, oyster sauce and garlic olive oil.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Monday, 9 June 2008

Super Salad

Taking Control 
Dinner today was a delicious salad - made at break neck speed and with very little thought required.
After coming home exhausted from work I switched the 'Telly box' on and fell onto a couch. “A taste of my life” was on BBC2 with Sue Johnston who's comfort food of choice is a fish finger sandwich, the thought of this childhood favourite (doused liberally in mayo and tomato ketchup) really got me hungry. I knew then that if I wasn't quickly inspired by something else the chances were that I would be having fish fingers for my tea - not something I would usually advocate. No, I'm not against the occasional drop in standards in favour of an 'easier options' or in this case a 'comfort food' or treat but I don't like the idea of this becoming the norm.
Yes, little self control goes a long way, but when lacking and hungry I'm saved by the fact that I know that I can have something equally as tasty easily on hand in a matter of minutes.
I don't know if too many other people share my sentiment on this matter and in fact I am now forewarned by some of my work colleagues to "turn away now, Ballal" when discussing their dinner plans; "Chips AGAIN!??!?".
Ah yes, there are a few people that I would love to make a good salad for - A save from yet another ready meal/takeaway/general stodge - I could wear a green cape with the Letter S on my chest - but I'm beginning to think that if I acted on this nutritional mission I would probably be feeding half the office and lots of my friends. That's a lot of lettuce.
But you don't need super powers to make a 'super salad'; so do it yourself (you know who you are).

I cooked a small chicken (breast) on a griddle pan after brushing it with a little olive oil and rubbing on a Moroccan herb mix  (go which ever way you like with flavour - but try and be consistent - unlike me).
The meat is very quickly done this way. I chopped it up and dropped it into a big bowl where your other ingredients will follow.
Your protein element could be prawns (ready cooked so even quicker) or squid or any other fish or meat.
I griddled some pepper strips and they too went in. Now all the 'cooking' part is over, anything remotely salad like can be thrown in. I used a can of mixed beans, pickled beetroot, sweetcorn, handful of cress leaves and stalk, cubed feta and bread croutons (instead of bread try grilling Pitta bread that has been slit in half (to get two full sized thin pieces) and when crisp, breaking into shards and adding to your salad). You could also use boiled baby potatoes for your 'carbs' .
Because my salad looked moist I didn't go to the effort of making a vinaigrette and instead just gave it a good glug of garlic olive oil over the top, a squeeze of lemon, a teaspoon of Harissa paste as well as a good sprinkle of coarsely ground salt and pepper.
This is about the most effort needed for a winning work day salad. So next time you're doing your weekly shop plan for a couple of salads and finally rid your world of those villainous cravings and bad eating habits.

If you do just love fish finger sandwiches join the Facebook group :)
This draw needs emptying...

Saturday, 24 May 2008

I mentioned that I would be cooking for some friends a while back, well it was a great success. I made my curry recipe that I posted a while back, every one said it was good, I served it with chapatis, yogurt mint rita, mango pickle and saffron rice. Mhairi had also brought some home made brochette which whilst feeling quite unsure about how my curry would turn out I felt quite reassured was there!
The trip was great fun, Martin and Linseys holiday home was amazing, I only wish I had more time to explore the surrounding country. I did take the opportunity to visit Loch Ness, which was absolutely beautiful in the spring time sun.
My kitchen for the weekend:
View from the house, notice the snow still on the surrounding mountains, apparently it was a good skiing year in Scotland:

Loch Ness visitors centre: (not much going on here...)

And if you like that sort of thing you'll probably like (Brave Heart):

There is a ridiculous entry fee to see the Urquhart castle ruin but the unrestricted views of Loch Ness are definitely worth it. The visitors centre also has very interesting displays and facts about the castle (which dates back to the year 1230 or further) as well as the mandatory, extortionate gift shop and cafe:

There's a poor guy in a prison (as if being a ginger wasn't bad enough!):

View of Loch:
Castle, Loch...

...and loo:

The weather began to look a little moody so we didn't stay too long, but I would recommend a visit here:

Sunday, 18 May 2008

King scallops, fresh muscles, fish, in a warm spicy coconut milk sauce... You cant really go wrong with ingredients like that, can you?

This is something I made when I had a surplus of good seafood in the fridge that needed to be used fast. (there arnt many quantities in this recipe-sorry)

First of all boil some noodles and then set them aside, in a large pot heat some oil and then fry half a chopped onion or a few shallots, on a low heat until soft then add some crushed garlic. when the pan is very hot chuck in the mussels and a little liquid (stock) cover the pan with a lid and cook the mussels for about 4 minutes, when done remove the mussels from the pan and discard any that failed to open. Add half a can of crushed tomatoes and as much of the juice as possible also add fish stock about 400ml and half a can of coconut milk(250ml). To this mixture I added 1 tbs of red Thai curry paste 1 tbs of white wine vinegar, 2 tbs fish sauce, juice of 1 lime, and 1/2 tbs of sugar. Mix the soup so all ingredients are combined then place some white fish fillets into the broth bring to the boil over medium-high heat. lift some of th efish out to check for done-ness, and when its nearly ready add the scallops and prawns (and calamari if using) to the pot. Cook for a further two minutes. Season, then garnish with some chopped corriander squeez a little more lime juice in if needed. Divide noodles among however many bowls, and top with broth and seafood.

Thursday, 8 May 2008


(This is an energy drink...)

Thursday, 24 April 2008

I've been meaning to write this entry for a while now; let me introduce you to my niece, Nusaiba (Nu, Nu Nu, Say say, See see, Baa Baa)! She's ace! Sadly though I don't get to see her as often as I would like, but this is a picture of her from when I was in London last: Cute right? But actually this was the worst trip to the park that you can imagine, she was NOT happy! I think me and my brother-in-law disturbed her during 'nap time' hoping she would amuse us at the park. But she was sleepy:Two beautiful people captivated by the mirror:UMMM good choice cookie monster:

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Butter Chicken This is a pretty good recipe, probably not the healthiest but the good ones rarely are! The cooking method used in this recipe creates an almost roasted flavour without the need of heating up an oven! I used 6 drumsticks for this recipe.
Heat a large, heavy-based lidded pan over a moderate heat. Add some olive oil and about 25g of butter. Generously season drumsticks with salt and pepper and when the butter is foaming, drop in the drumsticks, and fry until lightly browned all over.Cover the pan with a lid and leave the drumsticks to fry gently for 20-25 minutes, turning or shaking the pan regularly. At the end of the cooking time remove the lid and add a further 15/20g of butter, along with some minced garlic (2-3 cloves), a handful of chopped parsley and the juice of half a large lemon. Take the casserole off the heat and leave the flavours to infuse for a few minutes before serving.
I serve these drumsticks with sweet potato mash or couscous using the juices from the pan to top either.

Friday, 18 April 2008

This is the first time I'm making paella, though Ive ordered it many times at restaurants. I was at the fish counter in my local supermarkets this afternoon, I thought I would get some Squid, but unfortunately the lady before me brought the last lot, but this didn't put me off making my paella I got a few king scallop pieces, some live mussels and some interesting looking Tilapia fillets, unlike the scallops these were incredibly cheap I brought two sizable fillets for under a pound! (perfect for my trial paella)
The other ingredients that I purchased were a box of prawns (medium sized- but the bigger you get the better), an onion, yellow or red pepper, one lemon, bunch flat leaf parsley, paella rice, saffron,
You should also have seasoning, butter, olive oil, sweet paprika, 4x garlic cloves, fish stock, white wine vinegar, 2x tomatoes, frozen peas,

Chop the onion finely and the pepper in strips fry in some olive oil till soft but not darkened (about 10 minutes).
You can prepare your mussels whilst the onions are cooking by washing and cleaning them and discarding any that remain open after a light tap. Heat some butter or oil in a pan with a lid and fry one of the garlic cloves, add one table spoon of white wine vinegar and then the mussels and finlay about 75ml of hot stock. Bring to the boil and cook on high heat for about 4 minutes shaking the pan often to make sure every thing is cooked evenly. When the cooking time is over check the mussels and discard any that have failed to open. Drain and reserve the cooking juices and keep the cooked muscles in the pan covered.
Try not to eat them all before the Paella is ready!

When the onions and peppers have been cooking for 10 minutes or so, add the remaining garlic (chopped finely) and the tomato's. Fry for a further minute and then add the paella rice 80g per person (you will need double the volume of rice used for the stock), mix the rice in well and fry for a few minutes. Pour in the fish stock (about 800g also add the reserved cooking juices from the mussels) and a good pinch of saffron, the stock should completely cover the rice, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat so you have a gentle simmer.Now add one teaspoon of salt and a good pinch of pepper to the pan, next add one table level tablespoon of sweet paprika and gently mix into the rice. I used one of my fish fillets and chopped it into small (1 inch) pieces and pushed them into the rice I also halved a couple of my scallops and added them in to the pan as well. Simmer the paella for up to 30 minutes, don't be afraid to add a little more stock if you feel it is being absorbed too quickly, also don't be tempted to stir the rice too much, instead move your pan slightly about the fire to make sure you have an even cook.
20 minutes or so into the cooking time you can add some peas to your paella, I also covered my rice with the prawns and gently pushed them down a little. Unfortunately I only had small prawns (though they were quite plum and meaty) but use large shelled prawns if available.
When the cooking time is over cover the paella with some baking paper and then lay a lid on top, until you are ready to serve, and when you do be sure to squeeze plenty of lemon over the dish and a handful of chopped parsley. I also gave my rice a good drizzle of olive oil and served with the 'garlicky' muscles on top.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Red SaladOh no! I went and brought a Delia cheat ingredient, but without knowing it, of course I shouldn't have (we're only encouraging her on this new path). 
I had wanted to make a chicken salad last night, just something very quick after a very large lunch. So I made a quick trip to Sainsbury's for a bag of salad, my new found and much loved marinated baby beetroot and a jar of roasted whole peppers (the latter was the incriminating item- complete with an unnoticed "Delia Cheats" sticker). 
It was when I returned home from the supermarket that I realised - not only had I indirectly advocated frozen mash but that also I only had Beef mince in the fridge and not the chicken breast I needed!
Determined to atone for my mistakes (and to find a better home for the 'Delia Cheat' ingredient than it had anticipated) I persisted with creating a salad and it turned out great!

I mixed into the mince (about 400g) one egg salt and pepper about a table spoon each of cumin and coriander powder and a teaspoon of bright red smoked paprika. With wet hands I made about 27 little meatballs. After heating up some olive oil I placed the meat balls into the pan to fry, turning occasionally for about 10-15 minutes. In the mean time I assembled the salad in a large bowl; cherry tomatoes halved, chopped red onions and the little beetroot balls, the the whole roasted peppers chopped into large chunks and lastly the leaves. I also made some croutons rubbed with garlic and herbs. When the meatballs were cooked through I picked them from the pan and let them cool on a plate before adding them to the bowl of salad too. To the remaining juices in the pan I added some lemon juice, salt and pepper a little rose Harrisa and a teaspoon of chopped capers. I then drizzled this over the salad and garnished with some coriander leaves. A great 'meaty' salad, served alone or with some home made wedges and dip. 

                                                 No canned mince allowed!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

At least I had the Maa Days
A small pictorial tribute to a day during my sisters visit:
Me and Maa outside Haddo House

The house

The Dead Dogs

Robin Climbs a tree

Maa climbs a tree

How many people in the trees

Me and Ma on the leaning tree... which was leaning over the pond before Maarya got on it!

More tree.. ahh the tree time!

Looking for sheep MA



The front of the house

Maarya in the kitchen...

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