Sunday, 31 May 2009

The humble garden pea

No recipe for this one but a technique. My husband and I went to the veggie market on Saturday. I love going there. It's the same market that I took the picture for my blog header. Their vegetables are so fresh and tasty and the price is right. We bought garden peas and when we got home we shelled them and I cooked them and I thought I'd share how I did them. I will never ever do them any other way.

I brought some water to a boil. Take the pot off the heat. Pour the peas in and add salt if you like at this point. Put the lid on the pot and leave them alone until you are ready to eat. If you need to (and I did) you can heat them back up when ready to serve. These peas were the best I have ever had. And I believe the reason is they were not overcooked. I think we overcook way too many of our vegetables in particular. Try it and let me know how it goes for you. And besides how easy is that?

Friday, 29 May 2009

Chicken Breast with Garlic and Balsamic Vinegar

I got this recipe from They have some good recipes there so if you get a chance check them out. We both enjoyed this chicken. It has just the right amount of balsamic vinegar to make it have a hint of tartness which works wonderful with the mushrooms and thyme. I cut this recipe in half as we only needed enough to feed two and it worked wonderful. This picture doesn't do this dish justice.
4 skinless, bonless chicken breasts
3/4 lb small to med size mushrooms sliced (I used one can of canned mushrooms)
2 tbsp flour
Salt to taste. if desired
Freshly ground pepper to taste
3 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled (I grated mine finely)
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3/4 c fresh or canned chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp butter

1.Split each chicken breast lengthwise in half. Cut away and discard any thin membranes that may remain on the flesh.

2.Rinse the mushrooms, drain and pat dry (or if using canned drain)

3.Season the flour with salt and pepper and dredge the chicken breast halves in the mixture. Shake off excess flour

4. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and cook the chicken breasts until nicely browned on one side, about 3 minutes over moderately high heat. Add the garlic cloves.

5. Turn the chicken pieces and scatter the mushrooms over all. Continue cooking, shaking the skillet and redistributing the mushrooms so that they cook evenly. Cook about 3 minutes and add the balsamic vinegar and broth. Add the bay leaf and thyme.

6. Cover closely and cook over moderately low heat for 10 minutes. Turn the pieces occasionally as they cook. ( I only did 7 mins here as it had already done 3 mins)

7. Transfer the pieces to a warm serving platter and cover with foil. Let the sauce with the mushrooms cook uncovered for about 7 mins on high heat. Swirl in the butter.

8. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Pour the mushrooms in sauce over the chicken and serve. Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Chicken stuffed with spinach and feta cheese wrapped in bacon

2 chicken breasts flattened out ( I use a rolling pin)

2 large handfuls spinach, wilted

Feta Cheese cut in pieces

1/4 tsp nutmeg

cracked black pepper (optional)

4 slices bacon

1/4 c white wine

Fresh Parsley optional

Flatten out your chicken by placing it in between a piece of cling film (saran wrap) and bash it with your rolling pin until it's about 1/4 inch thin. I just try to get it all even if I can. I then wilted my spinach by putting it in a pot and adding boiling water on top. Leave it for a couple of minutes and drain the water out completely. I didn't add any salt to this recipe as feta is salty and so is the bacon and it really doesn't need it. Take your spinach and place it on each chicken breast then sprinkle with nutmeg. I added a few sprigs of parsley, I think it goes good with spinach. Add your feta cheese as much or as little as you want. I buy mine in water and it's already cut in cubes. I added 4 cubes to each one. Take two pieces of bacon and lay them out flat. Place your chicken breast over the bacon. Starting at one end roll up and place in baking dish which has 1/4 c white wine OR broth (chicken or veg) already in it.

Bake for 20 minutes at approximately 325 deg F until bacon has begun to crisp up.

I served mine with roasted red peppers and cannellini beans.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Peanut Butter Cups

I made these and oh my, they are the best tasting things.They are sitting quietly and patiently in my freezer as I type this just waiting for me to come back. I am not a candy maker or a baker. But I just had to try this after I saw it on another food blog by ConfabulationintheKitchen
Thanks to Abby for a great recipe. The inside is just like the old peanut butter cup we all know and love in the orange wrapper. I used the full sized muffin cases and believe me you do not, I repeat, you do not want one of these things that big then again, maybe you do......hahaha. They are super delicious. My pictures don't do this recipe justice but those on the linked blog does. This recipe came from Martha Stewart, Everyday Food, March 2009, page 162

Notes: In the UK the dark chocolate is not semisweet. It's not sweet at all or at least what I got wasn't. I added 3 tbsp of sugar to mine and it worked just fine. I used pink sugar rose petals on top of mine instead of the peanuts.
Edited to add: All dark chocolate here is not unsweetened. Just the bar I had in my freezer The next time I bought some it was sweetened.

4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped*

1. Line two 12-cup mini muffin pans with paper liners; set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine white chocolate and peanut butter. Microwave, until almost melted, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, stirring halfway through. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, place semisweet chocolate in another microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, stirring once or twice, until almost melted, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Dividing evenly, use a spoon to layer semisweet chocolate and peanut-butter mixture into liners, beginning and ending with chocolate; sprinkle with peanuts. Place muffin pans in freezer until peanut butter cups are firm, about 15 minutes. Bring to room temperature before serving

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Butterbean and Carrot Soup with bacon

I had a small bag of dried butterbeans up in my cupboard and decided I needed to finally do something with them. This soup is creamy and yummy and well it's just a nice comfort food. They're not called "butter" beans for nothing. Serve with a large piece of crusty bread. You could easily double this to feed a larger crowd.
Serves 3-4 generously

1 cup dried butterbeans, (which have been soaked overnight)
1/2 onion chopped (or use 2 large shallots)
2 tbsp oil
6 slices bacon, fried until crispy and crumbled
2 carrots chopped in small pieces
1 small handful parsley chopped
1/4 tsp celery salt or 1 stick celery chopped
1/4 tsp Thyme
2c stock or broth ( I used chicken stock)
2-3 tbsp Dry Sherry (or use water or stock)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. heavy cream (double cream) optional, could use tomato sauce

Cook butterbeans on a low simmer in water for approximately one hour until soft.
When that is almost done pan fry your bacon and set aside. Using the same pan that you cooked your bacon in add in your oil and chopped shallots and carrots and cook until the onions are lightly caramelized but not burned. Just until they turn that little bit of color and release that wonderful smell that only comes from a caramelized onion. Then add your Sherry to deglaze the pan, just scrub around with the back of your spoon or fork until you get all those "good" bits loosened up.

Add all that to your pot and the stock and stir along with the chopped parsley and thyme. Simmer for approximately 20 minutes. When this is all done take out about half the butterbeans using a slotted spoon and mash them up. Add them back to the soup to thicken it. I also added 2 tbsp thickener (cornflour, arrowroot) along with the cream. At this point you can go either direction. You can add the cream or you could add tomato paste to go that direction. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Do not eat lima beans or butterbeans raw, as they contain cyanogens, from which the poison cyanide is made. The U.S. and many other countries restrict growing limas to those with low levels. Rinse well and cook before eating

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Chargrilled Tuna with chili and lime

I made this over the weekend and it was wonderful. It came from our grocery store. They offer suggestions as to what to make and I tried this one. The key to this easy dish is don't overcook your tuna. Please cook it and leave it pink in the middle. Depending on how thick your tuna filet is anywhere from 3-4 minutes per side is usually enough. I usually do mine 4 minutes one side and 2 minutes the other as mine aren't that thick. Besides it still cooks a little even after you take it off the heat. These can be done in a griddle pan inside also. It just doesn't get any easier than this. I only used half a chili.

1 Red Chili chopped finely (I used a half of a chili)
1 Juice of Large Lime
4 tbsp finely chopped coriander
2 tbsp sesame oil
4 Prime tuna s teaks
2 tbsp olive oil
Sweet Chili Sauce to serve with Tuna

1. Rub the oil over the tuna steaks and place on the preheated grill (or griddle pan). Cook for 3-4 minutes or according to preference, turning halfway through.

2. Mix the remaining ingredients together and brush over the tuna steaks a couple of minutes before they are ready tocome off the grill. I would brush it on when you turn them over to finish that last side. Serve remaining sauce (sweet chili) as an accompaniment, adding a tablespoon of water if you want.

Bluebells of Britain

click on picture for larger image
Hi there
I know this is not food related but I just could not resist putting a picture of the bluebells we saw yesterday when we went out for a little stroll in the woods.
They are just like a carpet of blue.