Marsala Honey Pears with Gorgonzola - Nigella Lawson

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This recipe was taken from Nigella Lawson's book 'Nigella Express' Having made this, I would suggest using only 1 Tablespoon of oil, and not 2 as this recipe says.
You will Need:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (Not Extra Virgin)
2 Pears, Unpeeled and Uncored (uncored says Nigella - I say core those pears)!
3 Tablespoons Marsala
2 Tablespoons Honey
50g Walnut Halves
500g Gorgonzola

How to Do it:
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Meanwhile, cut the pears into eighths, leaving the skin and core on. (I cored my pears - no stalks on my plate, thank you very much)!
Fry the pears for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until softened.

Meanwhile, whisk the Marsala and honey together in a cup or small bowl.
Add the Marsala mixture to the pears and allow to bubble and become syrupy.

Transfer the pears to a large serving plate, reserving the syrupy mixture in the pan.  Add the walnuts to the same pan and stir fry them for about a minute, or until they are slightly darkened and sticky all over.

To serve, transfer the walnuts to the serving plate along with any remaining pan juices and place the gorgonzola onto the plate.

Beef Stifado - Or Not Quite!

Today I made Beef Stifado, once again I searched the net for recipes, and once again found soooooo many different versions. In the end I ended up putting in too much red wine vinegar......eeek!

So, I put in some sugar, and left it to cook. When I tasted it again it didn't seem any better, so after adding even more sugar and not getting anywhere, I put in a big dollop of good old 'Heinz' Tomato Ketchup!......Beef Stifado - Sorted!......

Thank you Peter at Kalofagas for your help regarding 'Should I Shouldn't I'? put in raisins as some recipes say to.
I must point out that the ketchup idea was NOT Peter's! I should think he's horrified to hear what I did to such a lovely Greek dish.....Sorry!

This, I'm sure must be my own recipe as I shouldn't think there is anyone else out there that has used tomato ketchup or celery in Beef Stifado before!

What I Put In:

500g Best Braising Steak, cubed
2 large onions, chopped.
1 x 400g Tin of Plumb Tomatoes, chopped
2 Tablespoons of Tomato puree
2 Teaspoons of All Spice
5cm of Cinnamon Stick
3 cloves
4 Garlic Cloves, very finely chopped
2 Sticks of Celery, sliced - I had some in the fridge and felt the need to use some.1 Sprig of Rosemary
100ml of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
600ml Red wine

1 'Knorr' Beef stock cube (I diluted one cube in 300ml of boiling water and used about 100ml).

1 TEASPOON of Red Wine Vinegar ***Please note: I am thinking 1TEASPOON would be enough as I put in 4 Tablesppons and so was in need of the tomato ketchup and 3 teaspoons of sugar!
Freshly Ground Black Pepper and Salt to taste.

***12 Shallots, a Knob of Butter and a little sugar (leave them out until a bit later in the recipe)

I probably used about 150 - 200ml of water (thanks to Peter) this along with my ketchup made the taste better

How I Did it:
I made this in a 'Le Creuset' (name dropping here)!! casserole, so it could be used for the whole lot - from frying the onions to going straight into the oven.

I fried the sliced onions in a little of the oil, until they were soft and put them to one side. I coated the beef cubes in flour. Then, in the same casserole dish, I fried the beef until it was sealed all over.

Add the beef to large frying pan or casserole dish. Place on a high heat, stirring occasionally until meat is sealed.

Add the rest of the olive oil, chopped onions, celery and garlic. Cook until the onions are soft and beginning to brown.

Add the red wine,
the all spice, cloves, bay leaves, rosemary, cinnamon stick, disolved stock cube and salt and black pepper to taste.

Add the chopped tomatoes, wine, red wine vinegar (go careful on that vinegar) and tomato paste.

The Shallots:
Now, peel the shallots and fry them in a separate pan with a little butter, sugar, salt and pepper until caramelised. When they've nicely browned, put to one side and add these to the casserole about 30 minutes before it's done.

Due to my technical problem of putting in too much wine vinegar, I kept having a taste and I added some water as needed. All in all I think it was in the oven for about 3 and a half hours on a very low heat. As all ovens are different you just need to keep checking that it doesn't get dry, or boil - you just want a nice slow simmer.
Add the caramelised shallots about half an hour before you want to serve.
Remember to discard the bay leaves, cloves, rosemary and cinnamon stick before serving.
I served it with some 'Supposed to Be' Greek Lemon Potatoes.....Another story -Don't think you'd want to know! I wasn't sure if they had oregano in or thyme, so I put in both along with lemon and garlic. Whatever, they tasted fine!
I hope I've got everything I did mentioned - I managed to fall down the stairs the other day and haven't been the same since!

Beetroot in a Sweet Chili Marinade with Halloumi Cheese

Oooh - I am quite pleased with myself today!

I've seen recipes for Beetroot and Halloumi cheese before, but I had this mad idea of cooking the beetroot and then marinading it in a little oil, white wine vinegar, some sweet chili sauce and a little bit of sugar. Anyway, it works!

If I say so myself it turned out rather nice. I just used a griddle pan to cook the cheese and the beetroot.


Crumbed Camembert - Ready to Cook!

A few years ago I discovered, in the supermarket, this 'Ready to Cook' breaded Camembert.

It comes in a box complete with cranberry sauce!
Has to be said - it is rather nice and VERY easy to cook.
Just pop the cheese onto a tray into the oven for about 14 minutes and serve with the cranberry sauce and a few salad leaves.....that's it!

I like to drizzle the salad leaves with a little lemon and black pepper dressing (also shop bought)!

Harissa Roasted Butternut Squash, with Mango, Feta and Red Onion Salad

Mmmmm YUM!
A strange combination - but it works!

I peeled and cubed one butternut squash then put it in a roasting tin and mixed in some oil and Rose Harissa paste (a good dollop). Anyone in the UK you can buy this in Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose.
I then gave it a good mix to coat the squash, then roasted it in the oven at 200C/400F for about 30 minutes, basting with the Harissa oil every now and then, until it was nicely cooked though.
If a knife will insert easily, then it's done.......
Actually, though, I just got a cube out and ate it! That's the way to tell if somethings cooked - unless of course, it happens to be chicken, then......eek! Nooooo don't do it!

Anyway, I then left it to cool while I peeled and sliced one mango. I then sliced some red onion and cubed some feta. I piled the lot on top of some rocket and other salad leaves and drizzled with a little olive oil......Very Yummy indeedy!

PS: Anyone in the UK - The mangoes were £1.59 in Sainsbury's and 'Buy one get one free' lol


Foil Baked Salmon with Feta Topping

This picture was taken just as it was ready to go into the oven.

Paul's mum and dad came for dinner last night and we had a great time!
For our starter I made a marinade of olive oil, dark soy sauce, honey, a little bit of sugar and some chili sauce.
Problem is I have no idea how much of anything I used to make this marinade as I didn't know I was going to make it until I did!
I had been speaking to my friend Jean who was also having a dinner party and was cooking salmon for starter too! She was doing hers in a rather yummy sounding ginger, honey and soy marinade.
So, once I'd put the phone down I made a similar marinade without the ginger.
It was about 1tbs olive oil, 2tbs soy, 1tbs honey, a teaspoon of sugar and a dollop of chili sauce.

After marinading the salmon for about an hour, I wrapped each piece of salmon in it's own foil parcel and sliced some red onion, a piece of lemon and added some chopped parsley.
Then I topped with cubed feta and spooned about 1 teaspoon of the marinade over and baked in the oven for about 15 minutes before opening the foil and cooking for about 5 minutes more.

When it came out of the oven it looked like this:

I then served it with some tabbouleh but I didn't put any mint in the tabbouleh coz I don't like it!


Harissa and Lemon-roasted Carrots

A piece of trivia for you!
Cooked Carrots contain more beta-carotene (an essential antioxidant) than raw.

I used Chanteney carrots as they are small and really sweet in flavour.

What you need:

600g Carrots
1 Lemon, quartered
2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon of Honey
2 Teaspoons of Rose Harissa

How to do it:

Place the carrots into a dish that can go into the oven. Squeeze each lemon quarter over the carrots and then add the lemons to the dish too.
Now mix together the rest of the ingredients and pour over the carrots and lemon giving it all a good stir.

Put into the oven at about 180C/350F/Gas 4
For about 40 minutes, basting every now and then.


Lime and Mascarpone Sorbet

Okay - yesterday I must have been tired as I called this lemon sorbet but it is in fact lime, I know this because I used 5 of them!

Well, it's very sad but I don't possess an ice cream scoop. Anyway, whatever this sorbet really is limey, zesty and all in all very, very nice. Every time I stirred it I had to try it - as you do to make sure it was going to be okay!!

Here's what you need:

750ml of Water

350g Golden Caster Sugar

Juice and zest of 5 limes

250g Mascarpone Cheese

How to do it:

Put the water and sugar in a pan and bring to the boil. Stir in the lime zest and leave to cool completely.

Now stir in the mascarpone and pour into a plastic container (big enough to enable you to mix with a blender a bit later on) and put in the freezer.

Fear not, that this looks really horrid at this stage as the cheese doesn't seem to mix in very well and sits in globs looking altogether quite nasty!

After two hours remove from the freezer and give it a good stir bringing the more frozen bits to the center. Now give it a good whiz with a hand blender - you will find by now the mascarpone will mix in and it will look much more like it ought to.

After a further hour repeat the stirring and mixing bit again.

At this stage, you must transfer it to a plastic container with a lid so it can be stored in your freezer until you need to. If you leave it much longer it will have frozen and you won't be able to transfer it without it becoming messy looking.

When it's well on the way to being frozen give it one last stir, no need to bother with the hand blender bit this time.

When you need to serve it just remove it from the freezer and put into the fridge for about 5 to 10 mins beforehand.

Da da!! Yummy, yummy lime sorbet!


Chicken Skewers with Halloumi Cheese and Pineapple

I wondered earlier if these would be okay, or if they'd be horrid, because I made these up while I was ironing.......As you do!

Well, if I say so myself these turned out really good.

What I did:

2 Large Chicken Breast Fillets cut into chunks, then I made a marinade from the following ingredients.

1 Tablespoon of Cornflour
2 Tablespoons of Dark Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon of Vegetable Oil
1 Tablespoon of Sesame Oil
2 Cloves of Garlic - Finely Chopped
Half an inch cube of Ginger - Finely Grated
Pinch of Sugar
A 'Dollop' of Honey - which was probably about a Tablespoon

Marinate the chicken cubes in the above mixture for about 40 minutes.

Then I cut half a fresh pineapple into chunks along with some yellow pepper and red pepper (or what ever colour you happen to have, I'm sure will be fine).

Also you will need some Halloumi cheese - cut into chunks.

I used 4 skewers and threaded chicken, cheese, peppers alternatively.
Then I placed the skewers onto an electric grill (the type that closes down so it does both sides at one time) and cooked for about 15 minutes - whatever, just make sure the chicken is cooked through!

I served them with some long grain and wild rice.......
Mainly because I like the look of the wild rice!
I then drizzled with a little sweet chilli sauce.

PS: The pineapple cost me 50 wholesome pence from work!! A BARGAIN or what?!
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