Archive for Cooking

Chicken Risotto

Posted in Cooking, Dinner, Food, Home Cooked Food, recipe with tags , , , , on January 13, 2010 by helenphillips

Ages and ages ago, I posted a mushroom risotto recipe, which had been created from a seemingly bare cupboard. The challenge was slightly different this time – I had chicken, chicken stock, and needed something to fulfil my new and exciting(!) diet regimen – and isn’t as pretty!  As always, we had lots of Arborio rice in the store cupboard (so much in fact, we’re going to have to eat a lot of it before moving!), so risotto seemed a viable option. Being new to this WeightWatchers milarky, I thought I’d check their site to see how risotto fits in which their concept. I very easily found a recipe for mushroom risotto, for 5 points, so it would seem that the rice isn’t too bad a thing. This encouraged me to make up my own chicken version, also using what vegetables I had. So, here’s what I came up with for 6.5 points:

  • Spray light (around 5 sprays)
  • 15g dried mushrooms (I used Asda’s ‘Exotic Mix’)
  • 30g roasted chicken (leftover from Sunday in this case)
  • 1 garlic clove (or teaspoon if using a lazy version)
  • 60g courgette
  • 40g white mushrooms
  • 70g red onion, finely chopped
  • 60ml white wine (you can use red, but I find it turns the rice pink!)
  • 75g Arborio rice
  • 375ml chicken stock (I make my own, making sure any fat is skimmed off)
  • Salt’n’Pepper to taste

Soak the dried mushrooms in enough hot water to cover, according to the packet instructions. Heat a non-stick pan, and spray with the fry light. Add in onion, and cook gently for a few minutes, before stirring in the garlic, white mushrooms, and courgette. When the vegetables have softened, stir in the rice, and then the wine. Stir occasionally until the wine is absorbed. Then start to add the stock, a little at a time, remembering to keep stirring so that it doesn’t stick. Add more stock as it gets absorbed. Once all the stock is added, test the rice to see if it is ready. You may need a little extra water, but I didn’t find that to be the case. Season to taste.

Of course, if you want to push the boat out, stir in a little butter and/or parmasan at the end!

January 12th 2010 - Chicken Risotto

Pan Fried Salmon with Vegetables

Posted in Cooking, Dinner, Food, Home Cooked Food, recipe with tags , , , , on January 12, 2010 by helenphillips

Salmon is a rare treat for me, because my husband really doesn’t like fish. At all. So, whilst he’s away, I like to sneak in a portion and enjoy it all by myself.

I added a bit of an oriental twist by using soy sauce & oyster sauce, along with stir-fried vegetables, including some Choi Sum. I’ve never come across this before, but it’s a relative of Pak Choi, and can be used stir-fried or raw in salads. I found it had a stronger, more peppery taste than Pak Choi.

Recipe (for 1)

  • 80ml dried basmati rice
  • Fry Light Oil
  • 1 Salmon Fillet
  • 2 Spring Onions, chopped
  • 1/4 courgette, sliced
  • 1/4 red pepper, sliced into strips
  • 2 medium sized mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 head of Choi Sum (about 5/6 stalks). Remove the leaves, and chop the stalks into bite size.
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce

Start the rice first, I usually find it takes around 12 minutes, which should time well with the main event.

Heat a frying pan, and add a few squirts of fry light when hot. Add the Salmon to the pan, and gently cook for a few minutes. Add the vegetables, with the exception of the Choi Sum leaves. Stir the vegetables occasionally, and turn the Salmon to cook evenly.  When the vegetables start to soften, stir in the Oyster & Soy Sauce. The last step is to add in the Choi Sum leaves, which will only take a minute or so.

Throw* the rice into a bow, and stir in the veg to coat with the sauce. Serve with the Salmon on top. Scoff.

*not literally!

January 11th 2010 - Pan Fried Salmon

The Countdown Begins

Posted in Cooking, Dinner, general, Home Cooked Food, Photography, recipe with tags , , , on January 8, 2010 by helenphillips

Yesterday I did a Very Scary Thing at work. I handed in my resignation. And if all goes to plan, we will be doing a Marginally Scary Thing in April. We’ll be relocating, approximately 4000 miles away, across the Atlantic Ocean to a new continent. Minneapolis in fact, described by Stephen Fry as the coldest city in the USA!  Britain is in the grip of a ‘Big Freeze’, with local temperatures tonight expected to be -14°C (6.8°F), but this is nothing to what we can expect next winter. Today’s temperature is -23°C / -9.4°F, gulp!

Disappointing, I haven’t been able to get out and about to take any snow photos yet. But tomorrow is Saturday, so hopefully I can wander around locally and make up for it.

So, thus far this week, my photos have mostly been of food (surprise, surprise!).  One of my favourite things to do after having roast chicken on a Sunday is to make stock from the carcass, and (among other things) then to make soup. This week’s was a bit of a variation on the usual, but consisted of chicken(!), mushrooms, carrots, spring onions, sweetcorn, and teeny bit of ginger. A glug of sweet chilli sauce adds a bit of tang, and some tomatoes thrown in near cooking completion adds to the flavour.  Served with some wholemeal rolls, it’s delicious, warming and pretty healthy. And yet another opportunity to make sure I’m getting lots of veg.

Chicken Soup

A few days I posted my recipe for Tagliatelle al Ragu and tonight we had the leftovers, served with a rather delicious (and healthy!) salad, consisting of mixed leaves, cherry tomatoes, celery and spring onions. I was sadly excited to discover Balsamic Glaze a few months ago, because now I can make my dishes look pretty as well as tasty!

January 8th 2010 - Salad!

Getting your 5-a-Day!

Posted in Cooking, Dinner, Food, Home Cooked Food, recipe with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2010 by helenphillips

Today was a day of a few missed photo opportunities. This morning, I braved the chill to return to work after a 2 week break. Not fun. After scraping the ice of the car, I finally pulled off. And then stopped. I had noticed the temperature on the dashboard display. Minus 6.5 °C. I can imagine in some other countries you will scoff at this, but it’s the coldest reading I have ever seen here. I whipped out the camera, only to get the frustrating ‘change the batteries’ message. I suspect the poor little thing was objecting to the cold. The drive to work was atmospheric, with the area around work submerged in a good old-fashioned pea-souper. This cleared through the day, and blue skies emerged.  Then at around 4.15, I noticed a glow in the reflection of the building opposite. It seemed that a beautiful sunset was developing behind us. Of course, I still didn’t have any batteries, so did my best to ignore it.  The weather predicts 2 more weeks of the ‘deep freeze’, so I’m not too disappointed. I’m sure I’ll get another chance soon!

My own obsession is to take a Photo A Day, but no-one can have failed to notice the general obsession to eat 5 portions of fruit & veg each day. In fact, some advice now has been modified to 7 portions a day. Generally I don’t do 2 badly at this – today’s count consists of a banana, rocket salad with cherry tomatoes, 2 satsumas, 1 strawberry yoghurt, and tonight’s dinner, which was Tagliatelle al Ragu, aka Spag Bol.  If I had children who didn’t eat veg, then this dish is perfect for ‘stealth vegetables’. As it is, I don’t have children, let alone fussy ones, but enjoy using vegetables to bulk out the meat sauce. My recipe has evolved over the years – it’s still based on the recipe I used as a student, but now I get more vegetables use. My version uses mushrooms, red pepper and aubergines, as well as onion, garlic and tinned tomatoes. This is basically what I do, giving around 4 good portions.

  • 250g minced beef
  • 100g diced pancetta
  • 1 onion (white or red), diced
  • 1/2 large aubergine, diced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 150g mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce (a good glug, probably around a tablespoon)
  • Red or White Wine (again, a good glug! Maybe 3 or 4 tablespoons….)
  • 400g tinned tomatoes (preferably chopped)
  • Herbs & Seasoning

Dry fry the minced beef and pancetta in a non-stick pan until the beef is browned. Drain into a bowl through a colander to remove the fat.

Use the same pan to sauté the onion and aubergine for a couple of minutes, then add in the sliced pepper and sliced mushrooms.  Add the chopped or crushed garlic. Stir well, and cook for another few minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Stir in the tomato purée to coat the vegetables, then add in the L&P sauce, and then the wine (de-glaze the pan if necessary).  Bung in the meat, add the tinned tomatoes, refill the tin half-way with water to rinse, and then add to the pan. Bring to the boil, and use any seasoning or preferred herb (generally I use salt, pepper & basil).

Serve with Pasta of your choice – I prefer Tagliatelle or Penne – and top with grated Parmasan.

January 4th 2009 - Tagliatelle al Ragu

Chicken Fried Rice

Posted in Cooking, Dinner, Food, Home Cooked Food, recipe with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2009 by helenphillips

This is a wonderful dish – it sounds bad (but isn’t) and tastes delicious. According to the Food Focus website, it’s 422 calories per portion, with 6g of fat, 64g of Carbs, and 26g of Protein – I wasn’t very strict about weighing stuff (maybe that’s part of the problem), but having gone back through the ingredients, I’d say it’s pretty close.

So, the ingredients (per person):

  • 1 chicken thigh (skin and bone removed if necessary, and chopped into small chunks)
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 large spring onions, chopped
  • 50g mushrooms, sliced
  • 90g bean sprouts
  • Tablespoon of Soy Sauce (I use reduced salt)

The rest is easy.

Use the stock to cook the rice, adding more water if required. I find that 2 portions takes around 10 minutes, so adjust time accordingly.  Do this first to ensure that it’s ready in time – it doesn’t matter if it goes cold as it will be added to the rest of the dish later.

Brown the chicken pieces (I find that by using a non-stick pan there’s no need to use any oil). Next add the mushrooms, spring onions and red peppers. Fry until soft (around 10 minutes), giving it the occasional stir. Finally stir in the bean sprouts, rice and soy sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes until the remaining ingredients are warm right through, then serve.

Shovel down with spoons in the smug knowledge that it’s much better than the pizza you had last night.


Chocolate Mousse

Posted in Chocolate, Cooking, dessert, Home Cooked Food, recipe with tags , , , , , , , on December 24, 2008 by helenphillips

We had friends over for dinner last night, and needing little encouragement to use chocolate, I decided to make some chocolate mousse.

I took my inspiration (as always from the Green & Blacks Cookbook) but as none quite fitted my needs, I made my own adjustments.

My recipe uses a combination of dark and milk chocolate, giving a good dose of high quality chocolate without it being too bitter. The quantities serve 4:

  • 50g Dark Chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
  • 50g Milk Chocolate (cooking)
  • 40g Unsalted Butter
  • 2 large eggs (separate the yolks from the whites)
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar (I used my vanilla sugar)

Melt the chocolate and butter using a basin over a saucepan of simmering water.

In the meantime, whisk the eggs white until they form soft peaks. Add the sugar, and whisk until the mixture is smooth and glossy.

Remove the melted chocolate from the heat, and stir in the egg yolks until the mixture is smooth.

Add a spoonful of the egg white to the chocolate mix, and gently fold in until completely mixed. Fold in the rest of the egg white, keeping it gentle to keep air in the mixture. Once completely mixed in (so that there are no white spots), the mixture can be decanted into serving bowls. You can use 1 large one, or individual portions.

Mushroom Risotto

Posted in Cooking, Dinner, Food, Home Cooked Food, recipe with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2008 by helenphillips

Last night was one of those occasions when a ‘store cupboard challenge’. We had ordered the week’s grocery shopping online, but our delivery slot wasn’t until 7-9 pm. We were both hungry, but faced with what appeared to be an almost bare fridge with a few random items. Then I found some Risotto Rice on top of the fridge, something which is always a great way of using odds and ends. Using the items listed below, I managed to produce a delicious appetizer that kept us going until dinner time. And it was a great opportunity to get out some dishes that had been sat at the back of the cupboard for a while.

  • 1/2 portabello mushroom (it was a truly huge mushroom!)
  • 125g Arborio Risotto Rice
  • 1/2 onion – finely chopped
  • 1/4 aubergine
  • 50 ml white wine (ish)
  • 250 ml vegetable stock (if cheating use bouillon)
  • Couple of roasted peppers (Mine came from Giodarno, obviously fresh can be used)
  • Basil (from the windowsill)
  • 6 asparagus heads

Heat a little olive oil and butter in a pan. Add the onion, and gently fry for about 1 minute, before adding the mushroom and asparagus. When the veg has softened, stir in the rice, so that it’s well coated. Stir-in the wine, and occasionally stir until fully absorbed. Add a little stock, and again occasionally stir until absorbed. Repeat until all the stock is used up. Check the rice. If required add, a little boiling water until the rice is ready. Stir in a knob of butter, and serve.


Mushroom Risotto

A risotto recipe with Portabello mushroom that stemmed from a …

See Mushroom Risotto on Key Ingredient.