Thursday, December 26, 2013

Blue Cheese, Parmesan and Green Olive Bread Sticks

My mum asked me to make a starter for Christmas dinner and I was faced with a problem. Between the six people who would be there, dislikes included: salmon, prawns, pate, salad.... I decided I would be safe with cheese. I also knew it had to be something I could prepare the day before and transport down to my parents, and that my mum wouldn't have a lot of space in her kitchen for preparation or oven for cooking. So the easiest thing, and something I thought we would all enjoy, was baked camembert. You simply buy a whole round camembert (or two, in this case), and put them in the oven for about ten minutes for them to melt. Then you dip bread or veggies into the cheese and enjoy. You could do these if you are having people over on new year's eve, though they are good at any time!

I did want to make something though so I decided to do homemade bread sticks. I'd never made them before, and hardly ever make bread, so I was pleasantly surprised to see how easy these were, and how well they turned out.

I used this recipe from BBC Food but adapted it slightly.

To serve about 8, you need:

one 7g packet dried yeast

1 tsp sugar

500g strong white bread flour,. plus extra for the worktop

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

5 tbsp grated parmesan

2 tbsp blue cheese

3 tsp herbes de Provence

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tbsp green olives from a jar, chopped

For the rub:

1 egg

2 tsp piri piri seasoning

2 tsp herbes de provence

50g grated parmesan

Add the yeast and sugar to 280ml warm water in a large bowl. Add 75g of the flour, whisk and leave for ten minutes for the yeast to activate.

Add the oil, remaining flour, parmesan and blue cheese, herbes de Provence and garlic and mix well to form a dough.

Chop the olives then add to the mixture and combine

Knead for about 5 minutes then cover the bowl with cling film and leave for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 190C. Mix the parmesan, herbes de Provence and piri piri seasoning for the rub in a small bowl.

Roll out the dough to a long rectangle and brush with beaten egg yolk, then sprinkle over the rub. You only need to do this on one side.

Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut strips of the dough. Gently twist each one, and stretch a little as you do so, and place on a lined baking sheet.

Bake for about 12 minutes until golden brown.

I did these in three batches and by the end had a pile of 16 bread sticks. They were quite large - both longer and thicker than the ones you buy in the shops - so I think you would only need 2 per person.

Here are the breadsticks ready to dip into the baked camembert:

I'm sending this to Four Seasons Food, the blogging challenge hosted by Anneli at Delicieux and Louisa at Eat Your Veg as their theme this month is festive party food.

I am also sending this to Cheese Please, hosted by Fromage Homage, as the challenge this month is to make festive nibbles using cheese. These bread sticks contain two types of cheese and are designed to be dunked into cheese, so you can't get more cheesy than that!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Meal Planning 2013 - Week 52

I'm really pleased that I lost 2.5 pounds last week given it is so close to Christmas! I am going to make more of an effort with Slimming World next year but this week I will be staying with family and friends so won't have as much control over meals.

Monday I've got the day off today though my boyfriend is at work. Today I'm going to make the dessert that I'm taking to my parents on Christmas day (assuming I can fit everything in my boyfriend's car, which has a tiny boot and no back seats!)

Breakfast cereal

Lunch broccoli and stilton soup

Dinner seeing my boyfriend's parents - I think we are having takeaway at his mum's house

Tuesday -Christmas Eve

Breakfast cereal or yogurt

Lunch either leftover soup from yesterday or a baked potato

Dinner We are going to see my boyfriend's family this afternoon, I don't know if we will still be there for dinner or not. If we are back home I will cook fishfingers and chips as it's quick and easy.

Wednesday - Christmas Day

Breakfast With my boyfriend at our house - but we won't have much time as we need to leave to drive to my parents by 9am, and I'd like to open some presents before we go!

Lunch With my parents - turkey and all the trimmings

Dinner with my parents - probably a turkey sandwich and some sausage rolls


Boxing Day- still at my parents' so don't know what I will be having


- still at my parents' so don't know what I will be having


- at my parents then with friends for the rest of the day so don't know what we are having


- I will be leaving my friend's house at some point and coming back to London so the only meal I can really plan is dinner and it will need to be something quick and easy that my boyfriend also likes, e.g. fishfingers and chips

Meal Planning 2013 - week 51

I put on a little weight last week which really doesn't surprise me. Since my last weigh in I had: lunch and drinks with friends on Sunday; dinner and drinks with a friend on Monday; lunch and drinks with work colleagues on Wednesday; the work Christmas party (with a free bar) on Thursday, and a takeaway with my boyfriend on Friday! Though the way it has turned out means I have no social events or plans at all this week, so I am going to try hard to shift the weight I just put on.


Breakfast skipped breakfast as I left early and had a Slimming World hi-fi bar later

Lunch leftover pasta from Sunday

Dinner My other half is out this evening so I can cook something he won't like; I'm thinking salmon with lemon rice.


Breakfast yogurt

Lunch burrito with leftover gammon and rice

Dinner spaghetti bolognese


Breakfast yogurt or toast

Lunch leftover spaghetti bolognese

Dinner Slimming World stuffed lemon chicken - All in One book p30


Breakfast yogurt

Lunch sandwich

Dinner fish in breadcrumbs and chips for me, chicken in breadcrumbs for the OH


Breakfast yogurt

Lunch baked potato or sandwich

Dinner My boyfriend also has the day off today but I am at work. I have promised my boyfriend a takeaway pizza at some point before Christmas (it was actually behind one of the windows of his homemade advent calendar!) so tonight seems a good a night as any.


Brunch It's our Christmas party at Slimming World and they are cooking us bacon sandwiches

Lunch I'll also do a bacon sandwich for my boyfriend

Dinner individual roasted poussin for me, chicken breast for the other half, with roast potatoes.


Breakfast waffles

Lunch baked potatoes with beans/cheese/tuna

Dinner Slimming World lamb shank casserole for me, sausage casserole and mash for the other half

Best Blog Award- Capricorn Challenge

I was thrilled to be chosen as "best food blog" for the month of October by Capricorn Goat's Cheese. I had a lovely email from Ethel the Goat telling me they had picked me and that my prize was a year's supply of goat's cheese! The reason that I am only mentioning this now is because I was waiting until my prize arrived to discover how much they reckon a year's supply is! Rather than fill my fridge with a ton of cheese at once, they very kindly sent me 24 vouchers for a 100g packet of Capricorn goat's cheese. So that's 2.4kg of cheese altogether - a decent amount for a year, I think!

Having said that, I doubt I will keep the vouchers all to myself. You will undoubtedly see some recipes using goat's cheese on my blog over the coming year however! I'd be interested to know if anyone has any suggestions or a favourite recipe using goat's cheese; if so please let me know in the comment box below!

"X- Rated" Cookies (Bonking Biscuits!)

If you are easily offended then look away now... these are a little bit naughty! And I don't mean in terms of calories.... I have done my best to make the photographs 'artistic' and indeed not too revealing. I was given these cookie cutters last year by a friend and wanted to hang on to them until Alphabakes came up with the letter X - there are not many things I can bake beginning with X so I think these X-rated cookies are just the thing!

Here you can see the top of the box from the cookie cutters

I used a straightforward biscuit recipe and added some allspice as I thought it was quite appropriate that I made these biscuits spicy! Allspice apparently combines the flavours of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

You need:

100g butter, softened

100g caster sugar

200g plain flour

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla flavouring

2 tsp ground allspice

Cream the butter and sugar and mix in the flour

I used this Madagascan vanilla from Dr. Oetker, which had a really good flavour. Add the vanilla, egg and allspice and mix well.

Roll out the dough and cut into shapes with the cookie cutters.You can see here I am being quite careful with my photography!

Bake in a preheated oven at 170C for about 10 minutes until browned but still slightly soft.

Transfer to a rack to cool.

I would recommend decorating these with royal icing or a tube of writing icing. I didn't have much time and was only making these for me and my boyfriend so I used an edible ink pen to draw on faces and arms (and nothing else - just arms, ok?!). I have to say I think these cookie cutters would be good for hen nights and parties! They are also quite large and make very substantial cookies, I broke most of them in half and just ate a piece at a time.

I'm sending these X-rated cookies to Alphabakes, which Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker is hosting this month.

Meal Planning 2013 - Week 50


Breakfast yogurt or cereal

Lunch I was meant to be doing a cookery class for lunch today but it got cancelled at the last minute so instead I will probably make a sandwich

Dinner I'm going to see Rick Stein Live at the Palladium with a foodie friend and we are going to an Italian restaurant for a quick dinner beforehand.


Breakfast yogurt

Lunch sandwich or cous cous

Dinner Chicken kiev and chips for the Other Half, salmon for me - though I think I might take Tuesday off work as I have a lot to do at home in which case I will make something else that I can spend a little longer over.


Breakfast yogurt

Lunch I've got my work Christmas lunch today, we are going to Brasserie Blanc

Dinner spaghetti and cheese-stuffed meatballs


Breakfast yogurt

Lunch sandwich

Dinner It's the work Christmas party tonight so I will be eating (and drinking) there. We're having a movies theme this year and I'm going as Cruella deVil, mainly because someone I know has a great costume I can borrow.


Breakfast yogurt

Lunch sandwich

Dinner sausage and mash for the OH, stir fry for me


Breakfast yogurt

Lunch chicken fajitas

Dinner slow cooked gammon


Breakfast toast/cereal

Lunch sausages (Quorn for me), baked beans, potato cakes which I have in the freezer

Dinner sticky BBQ chicken with Slimming World chips, which I had on the meal plan a couple of weeks ago but didn't make.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fish Menudo, Tuna Menudo

Fish Menudo, Tuna Menudo is our next 2014 Celebration’s Recipe that I would like to share. This dish is a non-meat alternative for your Christmas celebrations which most likely is a feast of meat dishes. For my Fish Menudo I used tuna for the reason that the meat of these types of fish is firm. The basic ingredients are similar to the regular Menudo except of course that we are using fish instead of meat. Cooking method is adjusted since fish cook faster compared to meat.

Fish Menudo, Tuna Menudo is another addition to our innovative menudo dish, click the links below to see the other versions of menudo on the archives.

Menudo with Baked Beans

Beef Menudo

Chicken Menudo


Pork Menudo

Here is the recipe of my Fish Menudo, Tuna Menudo


I kilo large tuna steak, cut into cubes

1 small block hard tofu, cut in to rectangles, fried and cut into cubes

2 small size potato, skinned, cut into cubes

1 medium size carrot, skinned, cut into cubes

2 small size green and red bell pepper, cut into small squares

1 medium size onion, peeled, chopped

1/2 head small garlic, peeled, crushed then chopped

2-3 pcs. bay leaf

1 small packet tomato sauce

2-3 tbsp. soy sauce

salt and pepper

cooking oil

Cooking procedure:

In a medium size non-stick sauce pan heat generous amount of cooking oil and sauté garlic and onion until fragrant. Add in the fish and continue to stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the fish from the pan and keep aside. Now using the same pan add in the bay leaf, potato and 1 cup of water let boil and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes then add in the carrot and continue to simmer for another minute. Now add in the fish, soy sauce and tomato sauce, continue to stir cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the bell pepper and stir cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

James Martin's Orange Curd Pudding

Recently I have been adding to my cookery book collection every time I go into my local charity shop - but I've had to stop as I've run out of space on my shelves! One of my last purchases was James Martin's Desserts - James Martin is regularly seen on Saturday Kitchen on the BBC which I do like to watch when I get the chance. I liked the look of his 'fresh orange curd pudding' which looked quite cake-like in consistency and perfect for a cold day. It's also very simple to make.

Serves 4

You need:

300ml orange juice

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

60g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

90g caster sugar

4 eggs, separated

70g self-raising flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

160ml milk

Preheat oven to 180C and butter the sides of a 1-litre ovenproof bowl. Put the orange juice and lemon juice in a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer until reduced by half, then set aside to cool.

In a bowl, beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest, then gradually mix in the egg yolks.

Fold in the flour and baking powder. Then stir in the orange and lemon juice and the milk.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff and gradually fold into the mixture.

Pour the mixture into your greased bowl and stand it in a roasting tin. Pour boiling water into the tin so it comes half way up the side of the bowl.

Bake in the oven for about an hour - check in the last ten minutes to make sure the top isn't getting too brown. You can cover the dish with foil to stop the top burning if necessary.

Serve the pudding hot. You can sprinkle the top with icing sugar and it would also work well with custard. The texture is like a doughy cake with an intense citrus hit - it was really nice.

I'm entering this in Alphabakes, the blog challenge I host with Ros of the More Than Occasional Baker, as the letter we have chosen this month is O.

The theme for this month's Calendar Cakes, hosted by Laura of Laura Loves Cakes and Rachel at Dollybakes, is puddings, so I am sending them my orange curd pudding as well.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Shoe theme birthday party

Last year I had a birthday party with a shoe theme. I wanted to write a post pulling all the ideas together but have only just gotten around to it. It's a fun theme that could easily be adapted for children or adults - after all, who doesn't have a favourite pair of heels, whether they are Start-Rite pink patents or Manolo Blahniks?

My birthday cake had a shoe theme; I decided to make a two-tier pink polka dot cake with a pair of shoes on top (obviously you could make it in any colour). If I did it again I would make a rectangular cake that looks like a shoe box and put the pair of shoes on top. I made the shoes in a cake decorating class; you can see how I did it here.

I also made some filled chocolates in the shape of shoes and handbags

Finally I made some White Russian cupcakes, using cupcake wrappers with a shoe print. I cut out shoe shapes from fondant using a mini cutter and placed these on top of the cake.

As one of my friends is vegan, I also made some vegan chocolate cupcakes and distinguished them with a green shoe on top using the same cutter.

Shoe cookies would be great for a shoe themed party as well; you can bake simple sugar cookies or shortbread and use a cookie cutter, then either decorate the shoes yourself or get your guests to decorate them when they arrive. This would be good fun as an activity at a children's party, though it could get rather messy, so you should provide your guests with aprons!

Maybe you could also make some choux buns - shoe buns - get it?

Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker came to my birthday party and made these amazing shoe cupcakes. Hop over to her blog and see how she did it!

I also asked my guests to wear their most fabulous and funky shoes and one friend in particular, Sandra, didn't let me down - she arrived in bright red sequinned high heels.

I wanted an activity for my guests to enjoy and came across this shoe quiz online. You can download the questions and print out question and answer sheets, and get the answers by making a small donation to the Multiple Sclerosis society. There are three different quizzes on this website so there is something for everyone. A shoe-themed prize is also a good idea!

If your party is for adults, don't forget the cocktails - how about a Moscow Mule, or a Singapore Sling-back?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Meal Planning 2013 - week 44

I haven't had much time to plan this week's meals as we have been decorating the spare room which has taken up almost every evening- and I do my food shopping on Saturdays so I had to quickly plan some meals in between painting the walls. I did put on a pound last week which is annoying as I was trying to lose weight before going on holiday next week!


Breakfast boiled egg - at the moment it looks like I will be working from home, the high winds means all my trains are cancelled!

Lunch leftover pasta bake

Dinner Steak and potato wedges


Breakfast yogurt

Lunch out for lunch with some colleagues

Dinner leftover chicken en croute for me, chicken kiev for the OH


Breakfast yogurt

Lunch sandwich

Dinner sausage tikka masala - it's a Slimming World chicken tikka masala recipe but I don't want to have chicken three days in a row, but there aren't many other things my boyfriend will eat. I will have a vegetable curry.


Breakfast yogurt

Lunch sandwich

Dinner chicken in honey mustard sauce with mashed potato (that I was going to cook last week but didn't)


Breakfast yogurt

Lunch sandwich

Dinner burger and chips, possibly with mozzarella sticks if time


Breakfast yogurt

Lunch Slimming World Welsh rarebit (from Autumn Flavours booklet)

Dinner TBA - I am going to Clandestine Cake Club in the afternoon and we might be going to the local fireworks event after that. I am away after today so don't want any leftovers or fresh food that needs using up so I might suggest we have a takeaway.


I'm heading off in the morning for a week in Baltimore at my company's head office.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Restaurant Review - Bea's of Bloomsbury

Restaurant name: Bea of Bloomsbury

Location: St. Paul's, London

Description: Tea shop and cafe nestled into the side of the One New Change shopping centre. There is a takeaway counter downstairs and a seating area upstairs.

Reason for visit: Lunch with a former work colleague who works nearby.

I ate: Roast chicken with some sort of potato salad in a herby dressing. Actually a really good option if you are Food Optimizing on Slimming World! Followed by cheesecake, which is not quite so Slimming World-friendly.

My companion ate: Cous cous salad with broccoli - he was on a pre-wedding diet!

The food was: Nice but fairly safe - my chicken was quite plain. They don't have a huge amount of choices at lunchtime but there are different types of meal on offer - sandwiches, salads, pasta, soup - but only a couple of flavours of each. The cakes are to die for though - Bea's is the inventor of the townie, a cross between a tart and a brownie! They also do afternoon tea here, which I would like to try.

The atmosphere/service was: Friendly staff, who brought our food up to our table when we found seats upstairs.

Price range/value for money: Actually not that cheap, I can't remember how much I paid for my meal but I was a bit surprised, I guess chicken and potatoes are quite substantial though and we were in the middle of London (and a pretty expensive shopping centre). On the other hand, it's worth noting that there are free jugs of tap water and glasses in an easy location to help yourself to if you don't want to buy a drink.

Would I recommend it? Yes, it's a nice place, the cakes are great and I'd like to try the afternoon tea.