Jo Macklin:

World of Writing

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This is the place that I share my love of cooking and experiments in the kitchen. I have been known to be a kind of genius in the kitchen, but to be completely honest, I can also be the ultimate failure. Here I will bare all with the new recipes that I am trying - I have a feeling that it is going to be a messy project! Stay tuned!






A week of recipes


Over the next week, I will put some new recipes to the test. Every evening, I will try a new dish and tell you all about it!

 







Day four: Octopus and String Bean Salad


If I ever see Octopus salad on the menu at a restaurant, it’s always my first choice. I love the texture and flavour of octopus – especially when it’s been marinated right. I found my octopus in the market pre-marinated and cooked, which is how you will usually find it.

 


Ingredients:


3 handfuls of sting beans, topped and tailed

1 small shallot

3 knobs of butter

1 heaped tbsp capers

1 tub of Marinated Octopus (mine contained around 30 small pieces of octopus)

3 big handfuls of rocket leaves

1 Handful parsley, chopped

 

Instructions:


Cook the string beans in salty water, and drain. Chop up the shallot. Put the butter into a hot pan (if you are cooking fish, use the pan you cooked the fish in – the fish will need to rest for a few minutes and this salad will take no longer than that to cook). Then add the shallot to the pan and stir for one minute. Now add the capers, octopus and beans. Cook for one minute, then add the rocket leaves. Take the pan off the heat, and continue to mix in the leaves until they are slightly wilted. Add a little pepper and half of the parsley. Serve by scattering the second half of the parsley over the top. Easy as that!



Thoughts:


I served my salad with a few pieces of sliced swordfish over the top – it goes amazingly with a good piece of fish.


You can use normal onions for this, but I feel that the soft flavour of the shallots brings out all of the other flavours.


You can replace the rocket with other types of leaves, but it just has such a beautiful peppery taste that goes so well with this salad.





A week of recipes


Over the next week, I will put some new recipes to the test. Every evening, I will try a new dish and tell you all about it!

 





Day Three: Mushroom and Pea Risotto

 



Ingredients:


2 knobs of butter

Glug of oil

1 large shallot, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp ginger powder

Salt and Pepper, a good pinch of each

1 cup of risotto rice

½ cup of frozen peas

Handful chopped parsley

 

Instructions:


In a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to the boil, and keep warm on the hob. In a big pan (I like using frying pans because they have a big surface area), melt the butter on a medium heat. Add the onions, mushrooms and garlic, and fry until soft. Add the ginger powder, salt and pepper, then add the rice. Stir for one minute to incorporate the flavours. Add a little chicken stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring constantly. As soon as it starts to get a little dry, ie when it starts to look like rice not mush, add another ladleful. I know it’s a pain in the bum, but keep stirring or it will stick and burn. Keep tasting the rice to see if it is soft enough. When it is nearly there, (it will usually take at least 15 minutes of stirring) the rice will still hold its shape but be soft in the middle. This is when you add the peas. They will take around five minutes to defrost in the risotto. Then sprinkle with the parsley and serve!


Thoughts:


I have been making this risotto for a while, and have done it many different ways. For a creamier consistency, you can add a spoonful of cream cheese to the risotto right at the end.

This doesn’t have to be with mushrooms or peas, you can use pretty much anything – even chunks of meat!

You can also cut the recipe in half and use it as a side dish, with a nice piece of fish.

I know this is a little strenuous, but this technique ensures that you get perfect risotto every time, without losing any by it sticking to the bottom.




A week of recipes


Over the next week, I will put some new recipes to the test. Every evening, I will try a new dish and tell you all about it!

 







Day Two: Stuffed Peppers

 



Ingredients (for 2 peppers):


Glug of oil, 2 cloves of garlic, minced, 1 Pack of ‘Fake Mince’ (see Thoughts section), 1 large fresh tomato, cut into small pieces, 1 heaped tbsp Ras El Hanout (see Thoughts section), ½ a large red onion, 5 chestnut mushrooms, cut into small pieces, 2 Large red peppers (choose ones that can stand upright!), Handful of parsley, chopped, Salt and Pepper

2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

 



Instructions:


Preheat oven to around 350 degrees F

First, prepare the peppers. Carefully cut the tops of the peppers by slicing with your knife pointing downwards, around the core in a neat circle. Take out the white pith and any seeds.

Bake the peppers in the oven for around 8 minutes, to soften them up slightly, then take them out and let them cool whilst you prepare the filling.

Heat the oil and the garlic in the pan on a medium heat for a minute, being careful not to burn the garlic but just soften. Then add the onions, mushrooms and spice, then cook for around five minutes until soft.

Add the Fake Mince to the pan, and cook for the suggested amount of time on the pack. Once cooked, taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.

With a spoon, scoop the mixture into the peppers, filling right to the top. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Put into the oven for 15 minutes. Serve with a sprinkle of parley over the top.

 



Thoughts:


For this recipe, I used what I most eloquently call ‘Fake Mince’ – which is basically vegetarian minced meat, such as Quorn in the UK. This is because I actually really like the way it tastes, and that it’s a lot less fattening for a weekday meal. But you can use real mince, of any variety, if you prefer.


I have adapted this recipe from what I actually made in one way – I didn’t cook the pepper separately before adding the stuffing, and it was a little too crunchy. But, if you like it that way, by all means, miss out that part!


Ras El Hanout is my favourite spice in the whole world right now – its very middle eastern and tastes just amazing in stews, and generally any meat dish. It is worth a buy, there is nothing like it and you can turn something very basic into something absolutely brilliant in seconds by just sprinkling a little onto your food before cooking. It works with pretty much anything really - even fish and veg! Yes - it’s that magic. If you don’t have any, harissa will also work, or a mixture of cumin, cardamom, and maybe paprika will also work. I’m a big fan of spices. Maybe I should do a spices special on here some day…Hmmm….




A week of recipes



Over the next week, I will put some new recipes to the test. Every evening, I will try a new dish and tell you all about it!


 




Day One: Cajun Gumbo


Our trip to New Orleans cemented our love for Cajun food. The bold flavours are incredible, when done well, so of course I bought some seasoning to bring home. However, I realised that I have not yet attempted the recipe of my husband’s favourite dish – Gumbo – even though we went to the effort of bringing back a tub of seasoning especially for that reason. Gumbo is a beautiful soup that is spicy and has some kind of meat in it, as well as rice. Basically an all-in-one bowl of loveliness. So, here it is, my version of Gumbo. I have to say, it is very simple but oh so good!




Ingredients:


2 tbsp Cajun seasoning, 3 cloves of garlic (minced), 2 tsp Plain flour, 5 tbsp Unsalted butter, sausages (or seafood, if you prefer), around 900g chicken stock (one carton), 1 onion cut into strips or big chunks, 3 spring onions cut into very small pieces, 1 cup of rice, 1 tin chopped tomatoes, 1 tsp sugar, salt and pepper, handful of parsley, spoonful of sour cream.


 




Instructions:


In a small saucepan, fry the onions and the garlic and one tbsp. of the seasoning until soft, then put to one side.


Cut the sausages into diagonal pieces, or take the meat from the casing and use as mince (whichever you prefer). Cook them, then put to one side with the onions.


Melt the butter on a low-medium heat in a big paella pan (or a high sided pan). Just as it all melts, add the flour and stir with a whisk vigorously until smooth, no flour should be visible.


Add half a cup of the chicken stock, in two lots, and keep stirring. There should be no lumps.


Add the chopped tomatoes, onion mix, sausages, the rest of the chicken stock, the rest of the seasoning, the rice and the sugar. Stir well. Put a lid on the pan and leave for around 20 minutes on a medium heat – it should be simmering not over boiling.


Keep checking it to see when the rice is done, you don’t want to overcook the rice. It should keep its shape well, but not be hard in the middle. Once the rice is done, stir through the parsley and the spring onions and taste to check if it needs seasoning (I find that the chicken broth has enough salt in it, so I only add pepper). Leave on the heat for no more than two minutes after adding these, to keep the parley vibrant and the spring onions crunchy.


It should be a soup-like consistency, and a beautiful bright red.




Thoughts:


Serve with a spoonful of sour cream on the top. If you want to be really fancy, sprinkle some Cajun seasoning and spring onions over the sour cream – beautiful!





Recipe Special: Argentina Day

 



So, I have found the ultimate in date-night ideas – it’s so good that I am dedicating a special post to it here on the recipe area of my website.


Try The World (www.trytheworld.com) delivers gourmet international food to your door, in a seriously fun and unique way. Every two months, you get a beautiful green box delivered to your door and every box represents a different country. For example, my first box was an “Argentina Box”. Everything in the box is from Argentina and along with the food, you get recipes, cultural history and information - even movie suggestions and music ideas. It’s basically a box of fun themed entertainment, and you’ll even learn something too! You have to try it! Just opening the box and figuring out what the ingredients are is so much fun, and its packaged so beautifully that it feels like Christmas! It’s ideal for date nights, themed parties, but you could even use it for a night in with your kids – it's so important to learn more about the culture and food from other countries – but also seriously fun! It’s such a unique idea and I can’t recommend it highly enough. So let’s see how I got on with mine!




My Argentina Box


So in my little box of culture, I received some Argentinian teas, a green olive paste, a strange jelly that you eat in pastries and with cheese, a dip for meats, a marinade, some butter cookies and of course, the absolutely delicious jar of Dulce De Leche.


Argentina Night!


It just so happens to be my first wedding Anniversary – so to celebrate, my husband and I decided to have an Argentina night lead by our Argentina box. We made a traditional three course meal, we listened to the suggested Argentinian music and we even drank some beautiful Argentinian wine that we went to a very posh wine store to find. What an amazing night!


Cornflour Alfajores with Dulce De Leche


The recipe for this traditional cookie sandwich was in the information book in my box, so of course we had to make it. I’m not going to share the recipe because it came with the box, and honestly, they ended up being a very strange texture and I didn’t really care for them, but it was so much fun making something that was completely out of my comfort zone and so traditional to a culture. The main ingredient, as the name suggests, is cornflour (corn starch, for American readers!) – the strangest thing I’ve ever seen! It made the dough feel almost rubbery and the texture of the finished cookies was crumbly and tacky which is the oddest sensation in your mouth. But they look lovely!


Lamb Shoulder with Argentinian Marinade


This marinade is full of sweet flavour, and is a great tribute to Argentina’s love of barbeque and meats. It has hints of fruits, honey and dark spicy wine – and completely transforms meat! I bought a boneless lamb shoulder from a local farmers market vendor, whose animals come from the Catskill mountains. I sprinkled some salt and pepper onto the meat, then seared it on all sides for a few minutes each side – to get a lovely colour on it and seal in all the juices. As I turned it, I brushed the sealed sides with the marinade, being very generous with it. Then I transferred the meat to my slow cooker, and made sure that every part of the meat was brushed with the marinade. Make sure to add all of the cooking juices to the slow cooker – don’t let that flavour go to waste! Then I left the meat in the slow cooker for around 4 hours, turning it every hour so that it gets an even cooking and brushing it with more of the marinade. The outcome was sweet and sticky and bursting with flavour – and the meat fell apart and melted in the mouth. I can see why it is very popular in Argentina for BBQ's! Amazing!


Seared Steak with Argentinian Chimichurri sauce


This sauce has spices and herbs and lots of garlic – it’s like tasting Argentina! I picked out a beautiful steak, and seared it on a high heat to get it to the rareness that I love. Then I let it rest under some foil – VERY important when cooking a steak – then sliced it up. I arranged the beautiful rosy slices on a plate and drizzled this delicious sauce over the top of them. You can’t beat that! Simple and delicious.


Messy little canapés


I used the green olive paste almost like a dip or a spread as one canapé, and the strange jelly with some goat’s cheese as another – all on top of some pieces of crispy flatbread. The Jelly stumped us a little bit, it seems that you just slice it up and put it onto the crackers – so that’s what we did, but it was the strangest experience slicing up jelly and eating it with cheese! They didn’t look posh, I know, but they tasted great!



All in all, we both had an amazing evening - cooking together, delicious wine and food and some great music. It was really different and informative and entertaining. Do it!





Cauliflower Puree

 



I have always wanted to find something exciting to do with Cauliflower – a vegetable that I love but no one ever uses. Yesterday was a good day because I bought my main birthday present – a very fancy shiny new blender!! So, I put two and two together, and here it is – the recipe that will make you fall in love with cauliflower. It is so delicious – you will love it! This recipe feeds 3 people.

 



Ingredients:


*You will need a good blender or smoothie maker for this recipe*


1 whole cauliflower

Almond milk, around 2 cups

Salt & Pepper

Fresh ginger, cut into small pieces, 1 tsp

Vegetable oil, 1 tbsp

2 spring onions

1 Clove of Garlic, crushed and chopped

Dash of Sesame oil

Half a chilli pepper

 

Instructions: 


Cut up cauliflower into small florets, getting rid of the hard stems. Try to make them all the same size so that they will cook and blend evenly. Cut up the onions into small pieces, leaving out most of the green part of the onion. Cut up the chilli pepper into small pieces, using as little or as much as your taste.

Put oils, chilli, garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper and the ginger into a saucepan on a medium to high heat, and cook off for one minute. Add the onions. Stir for one minute, then add the cauliflower. Cook until the cauliflower turns a slightly clearer colour, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to distribute flavours. Now turn the heat down slightly, and add the milk. Cover the pan, and keep it on the heat for about 10-15 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally.

The cauliflower will be done when you pierce the stem with a knife and it is soft. Don’t overcook it or it will lose its flavour, so keep checking it. Drain well with a sieve, not a collider, as you want to keep the little bits of loveliness in the bottom. Put cauliflower into the blender whilst still quite hot, making sure everything goes in. Blitz it until everything is consistently smooth. Then add salt and pepper to taste (make sure you do taste it at this point to make sure you add the right amount of salt and pepper). Blend on pulse twice to incorporate the seasoning, then serve.

 

Thoughts:


- I served this with scallops, bacon and a kale salad – which all went beautifully together. Scallops go so well with the puree, it’s nice to put a small mound of the puree on a plate then put the scallop directly on top of it – it seems to be how the fancy chefs do it! The saltiness of the bacon brought out the flavour of the cauliflower and the kale salad (which I will put the recipe on here for eventually!) brings it all together. Very healthy and yummy!


- The puree can be used instead of mashed potato, with stews or steak, or anything really. It is so healthy because you are getting a great veggie in there but you think you are being indulgent. It even looks like mashed potato!


- You can substitute the almond milk with cream or cow’s milk, but Almond milk is so good for you, has no fat in it and gives a wonderful nutty taste to the puree. It’s a win-win, if you ask me!


- Cauliflower has tonnes of Vitamin C and K – and lots of other lovely stuff that keeps us going – so is another great addition to our weekly diets!

            




                                                  ...and here it is!   












 

Asian Seared Tuna


This is a recipe that I made up years ago, and it is probably the dish that I would call my signature. I make it for my other half and myself very often, but have also made it for many other people who have begged me for the recipe – so here it is! This is one of those dishes that looks fancy and complicated, and if you present it right, it looks like something you would get in a restaurant – but it is actually one of the most simple and quick dishes that you will ever make. Enjoy!




 

Ingredients:

Good quality tuna steak – the redder the better

Sesame seeds

¼ tsp Sesame oil

2 tbsp Olive oil

Ground black pepper

½ a chili, seedless (optional) OR a squeeze of Wasabi

1 tbsp Honey

1 tbsp Soy sauce

1 tsp Fish sauce

1/2 tsp Ginger

1/2 tsp Garlic

½ a Lime

 

Instructions:


In a small bowl, mix together the sesame oil, olive oil, black pepper, chili/wasabi (if you like it spicy!), honey, soy sauce, fish sauce, ginger and garlic. It will create a dark sauce. Add some sesame seeds, enough that you can see them well in the sauce – will be a good handful. Mix everything together. Put your tuna on a plate with a raised rim (so that the sauce doesn’t spill over during marinating time). If you don’t have a raised rimmed plate, use a shallow bowl or alternatively use a food bag with a seal. Cover the tuna on both sides with your sauce very generously. There should be no sauce left. Wrap the plate with the fish inside with plastic wrap (cling film). Put it in the fridge to marinade for an hour.

After an hour, take the tuna out of the fridge. Put a griddle pan on a high heat (or a frying pan if you don’t have a griddle) until it smokes. Do not use oil. Put the tuna straight onto the griddle/pan and brown until you can see a little brown creep up the side of the steak, around two minutes. Then turn over and repeat. With a griddle, you will see the classic black lines on each side of the steak which looks amazing! Once your steak has browned on both sides, pick up the steak using tongs and brown the sides of the steak in the same way, until the whole steak looks brown on the outside. Squeeze the lime onto the steak, let it sizzle for a few seconds, then take the tuna off the heat.

Leave the tuna to rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

 

Thoughts:


If you don’t like tuna that is pink/red in the middle, then you can cook it differently but still use the marinade. It won’t look as pretty – but it will still taste really great.

To make it look like restaurant quality to impress your diners, slice the tuna with a very sharp knife into thin strips, going at an angle (like you would with a baguette). You will see the contrast of colour between the red tuna and the brown seared edges – it looks beautiful. Serve on top of a fresh green salad to add more colour – if you want to keep with the Asian theme, go for some wilted bok/pac choi!





                      

                          ........and here it is!









Melt in the Mouth Lamb Recipe


I saw this being made on Saturday Kitchen (my all-time favourite cooking show) and I couldn’t stop dreaming about it, so I had a go myself. American’s don’t really do lamb like we do in the UK, so I had to settle for the only cut of lamb that there was in the store, but the recipe is intended for a shoulder. You may think by looking at the ingredients that it will end up being rather salty, but it is actually so well balanced and just a delicious and beautiful thing.

 





Ingredients:

Lamb Shoulder preferably, but I used lamb leg and it worked fine

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

6 garlic cloves, peeled

8 anchovy fillets in oil

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

50g/1¾oz pitted black olives

250ml/9fl oz  (sweet) white wine

You will need a casserole dish that is flameproof, oven proof and has a tight fitting lid.

 

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F

Trim any excess fat from the lamb. If you are using a leg, this will be a lot to take off but it needs to be done. Heat a casserole dish on high and add the oil. Fry all sides of the lamb on a very hot heat until brown everywhere. Take it out of the casserole dish and pour off any excess fat.

Now turn off the heat and add the garlic cloves, anchovies, rosemary, olives and white wine to the casserole dish and set the lamb on top. Cover tightly with a lid and place in the oven to cook for 1–1½ hours, or until the meat is very tender. You will need to keep an eye on the lamb, and baste it often with the juices. In the final 10 minutes, remove the lid and cook the lamb uncovered to reduce the cooking juices by about half.

 

Thoughts:

This recipe makes a delicious gravy so it is worth making the most out of that with accompaniments to your dish – some mashed potato would be great, or even fries to dip, but I have an obsession with polenta cakes recently so I served my lamb with some polenta cakes and some veg. Yum!





                           ....and here it is!   













Jo’s Perfect Brownie


These brownies are so amazing – they are the perfect amount of sweet, crunchy on the outside and gooey in the middle, and the aftertaste of nutmeg is so amazing and different that you can’t help but want more. It is because of these things that I give you this warning; please use this recipe with caution! You will be addicted and it is a diet murderer. So much so, that I have banned myself from making these now until after the wedding. I had no idea that the last batch that I made would be my last batch, so I apologise for the lack of photos, but I promise to put some up as soon as I come off this stupid wedding diet! So enjoy – I will live vicariously through you!

 Ingredients:


¼ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup of unsalted butter

1 cup white sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

½ cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp ground nutmeg


 Instructions:


Heat up your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).


Grease your baking tray – the recipe calls for a 9x9 inch baking tray, but I use a smaller one (see ‘thoughts’ for more information to make your decision).


Mix together in a large bowl the butter, oil, sugar, and vanilla, then when combined, beat in eggs.


In a smaller bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder, nutmeg and salt


Slowly mix the dry mixture into the large bowl containing the egg mixture until well blended.


Spread the batter evenly into the prepared tray, pouring into the middle and allowing the mixture to spread out to the edges by tilting it.


Put tin in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Cut into squares or triangles once the brownie slab has cooled.



Thoughts:


I use a smaller pan than the required 9x9 - the brownies will be thicker and take longer in the oven but they are much gooier on the inside. Play the cooking time by ear, after the time stated on the recipe is up, leave it in for a further 10 minutes, then take it out every 5 minutes after that and stick a knife in the middle. Once the knife comes out clean, it will be done. It takes a bit more effort but is so worth it!


These brownies last a while when put in a cookie jar, and actually after a few days I love the crunch they get on the outside.



Kale Chips



I got the idea for these kale chips (or crisps, for us Brits) from my friends' mum when I stayed with her in Jacksonville, Florida. I had never eaten kale before because generally lettuce type foods do not agree with me. But these are so light and melt in your mouth that I had no problem with them at all. I have been making them ever since! Kale is a Superfood so any way to make it appealing is always a bonus, and these are so delicious you will forget about the healthy part! Give them a try!

 


Ingredients:


Kale (washed and fully dried)

Around a tablespoon of dried red chili flakes

Half a lemon

Around a tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Salt and pepper to season

 

Instructions:


Heat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Making sure that the kale is completely dry, break the leaves into small pieces.

Arrange them onto a baking sheet and put into the oven for around 10-15 minutes, checking regularly.

When they are done, they will be a darker colour of green and almost look purple or brown. This is supposed to happen – but if they start to turn dark brown, they have been in for too long. Some will crisp quicker than others, so you may want to take some out and leave the others in.

When you take them out, put them into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper to season, mixing with your hands, very carefully so as not to break the delicate pieces.

Sprinkle the lemon juice on the kale chips, making sure to get an even spread. Mix again with hands.

Then finally add the chili flakes and the cheese (if using) and mix well but carefully. You can add more of each ingredient, depending on taste.

 


Thoughts:


These make a great snack, but they can also be served as a fun side dish, or an accompaniment to a main meal. I feel they go especially well with fish. I served mine with fish and spiced cauliflower mash.

The flavour of these kale bites are very intense and quite strong, so if you are fond of strong flavours, this is the healthy snack for you!





                           ....and here it is!  


(Yes, I finally have pretty new plates to present my food on! The green ones seemed to be counter productive!)









Scandinavian Gravlax with Italian Potato salad

 

I love Scandinavian food and I can’t believe how little people know about it. Over the weekend I watched a cooking show with a Swedish chef who owns a bunch of Swedish restaurants in the UK. He made Gravlax, which is a type of cured salmon. I had never tried it before so I didn’t know what to expect, but I have such a profound love for salmon – so I decided to try it! This recipe is based on a few that I found online. It does take a while because it needs to be left for 48 hours, but it is so worth it and it is safe to say that last night when we finally got to eat it, my Finance and I were both in heaven. The potato salad recipe is based on a dish that I am in love with from the Italian restaurant, Carluccio’s. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:


For the Gravlax: Salmon Fillet (the fresher the better, no bones, skin on), 3 thin slices of lime, 3 tbsp white sugar, 1 tbsp salt, a big handful of fresh dill


For the Potato Salad: Just under a pound of mini potato’s (preferably red skinned for flavour), 3 tbsp Capers, 3 tbsp finely chopped Olives, Splash of Olive oil, tsp pepper


For the sour cream sauce: 1 small pot of sour cream, ½ tbsp fresh dill, ½ tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp ground white peppercorns, ½ tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp horseradish sauce

 



Instructions:


Two days before you want to eat the dish, lay the salmon in front of you and cut off the thinner edges that run lengthways (if it has them). Then cut the salmon in half widthways to create two neat fillets.

Choose the biggest fillet and put it on top of a layer of plastic wrap (cling film for you Brits!), on top of a plate.

Mix the sugar and salt together in a bowl and layer the mixture on top of both fillets, putting more through the middle of the fillets and the thicker parts and leaving the thinner edges bare (the mixture will make its way to the edges during the marinating process). On the biggest fillet on the plate, add half of the dill on top of the sugar and salt mixture. Chop the lime slices into small pieces and put the lime on top of the dill, making sure to not connect the lime to the salmon because the salmon will go white if it touches the lime. Then use the rest of the dill to put another layer on top of the lime, making sure that no lime is visible. Now you can put the second fillet upside down on top of the biggest fillet, so that they are both on the plate. You will be making a sandwich in a way – sandwiching the dill, lime, sugar and salt into the middle with the salmon skin on the outside (it might be a little messy but try to keep as much inside as possible!) Wrap the salmon in the plastic wrap VERY tightly, then wrap three more times with more plastic wrap. Then, put back onto the plate and put it into the fridge for 48 hours, turning every morning and night.


When the glorious time comes to eat the fruits of your labour, start by boiling the potatoes. Then take the salmon out of the fridge and slice at a side angle and arrange on the plate. To make the sour cream sauce, simply combine all of the ingredients and mix heavily until you get a smooth texture. In a large bowl, add the capers, chopped olives, olive oil and pepper. When the potatoes are done, add them to the bowl and using a fork, crush each potato roughly and mix in with the other ingredients.



Thoughts:

- I served this with some asparagus, which went really well!

- I have never tasted salmon like this before, it is so sweet and the texture is very different, it is delicious and I would highly recommend it!







                               ......and here it is! 

(I got a little carried away and had already started eating by the time I took this photo, but you get the idea!)









Salmon and Broccoli Pasta with Jo's


Sauce

 

I made this amazing pasta dish a while ago and loved it, but had forgotten about it until I looked into my fridge last night, searching for something interesting to create for dinner. I saw all of the ingredients and thought, why not? It came out even better than I remember (with a few little changes) so I thought that I would share it with you! So here it is…

 





Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tablespoons butter/margarine

Salt & pepper to season

½ teaspoon garlic

2 heaped tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp ground mustard

1 tsp horseradish sauce

1 large salmon fillet

A large handful of broccoli

Pasta, Farfalle is best, half a cup per person

 

Instructions:

Put the pasta on to cook in a pot of boiling water for around 10 mins. Put the broccoli into a pan of boiling water to cook for five minutes. In a smaller pan, melt butter with the garlic, oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Once melted, take off the heat and put into a mixing bowl to cool slightly. Leave for 5 minutes, then add the curry powder, mayo, horseradish sauce and mustard. Mix until smooth – it may look horrible to begin with but keep stirring, it should eventually be slightly thinner than the mayo but not like liquid. Meanwhile, either fry or bake the salmon, depending on preference, until the fish is flaky – do not overcook (frying should take a few minutes on each side, and baking in foil should take around 10-15 minutes). Once done, flake the salmon into pieces and add to the bowl of sauce. Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl. Mix all ingredients together, if it is not hot enough put it back into the pan on the heat for no longer than five minutes.

 

Thoughts:

You can play around with this recipe, add and take things off the list. Asparagus works well in replace of broccoli, as do most green vegetables.

The red of the salmon against the green of the broccoli work so well so the colours would be the only thing that I would say not to mess with!

I use the stems of the broccoli as well as the florets, if you peel it into thin waves it can be eaten raw or cooked, it has a lot of nutrients and it doesn't leave any waste! Win, win!





Chicken Divan


I first had this during a lovely visit to my friend’s grandparents’ house in Delaware, USA. They were keen to show us some traditional food. For lunch, Chicken Divan was served and I can’t tell you how delicious it is. I asked for the recipe and after trying it for myself, I now share it with you! I had to be a little creative with it as I didn’t have all of the ingredients but it still worked out great, mine was more of a Broccoli Divan! Either way, this dish is one of those tasty classics where you can’t go wrong, but it will never do well for the old diet! 


Ingredients (serves 8):


2-10 oz Broccoli (depending on taste)


2 cups/3 breasts of cooked chicken


2 cans of cream of chicken soup


1 cup of mayo (regular, not light)


1 tsp lemon juice


½ tsp curry powder


½ cup shredded sharp cheese


½ cup bread crumbs


1 tbsp melted butter


Instructions


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cook the broccoli in boiling water and drain well. Florets should be small to medium sized, around a small mouthful each. Layer the broccoli and cooked chicken in a pot or casserole dish. Then, in a bowl, mix together all remaining ingredients, apart from the cheese and breadcrumbs. Pour mixture over the broccoli and chicken, then sprinkle the cheese and the breadcrumbs on top. Once the oven has reached temperature, put the dish in for 30 minutes.


Thoughts


-You can have this dish without chicken, but keep in mind that the cream of chicken soup is not vegetarian. You could probably substitute it for cream of mushroom.


-The broccoli brings colour to the dish, so if you do not like broccoli it would be wise to substitute it for something equally as colourful – or it might look a little bland!


-I found that one can of condensed soup did the job of two


-I couldn’t believe how easy this was, the hardest part was making the breadcrumbs! Everything can be done before hand too, so it is a great no fuss meal for those times that you need to not have to worry about dinner.


-I served mine with sweet potatoes but it would be better with a nice salad (we just didn’t have any in the fridge!)






                           

                              And here it is...... 











Blackberry Sauce


Yesterday, I investigated the fridge for something interesting and different to create for dinner. I found a juicy steak that needed to be used – but nothing particularly interesting to go with it. Then my eyes met a box of blackberry’s that had been sitting there for far too long and my mind began to wander back to a little restaurant that I went to with my dad. I had a lovely little steak that had a smother of sweet blackberry sauce on the side and I have to say, it was absolutely delicious. So, I made an attempt at making my own version of it.



Ingredients:



Blackberry’s - around 1 box


White sugar - 4 tablespoons or to taste


Lemon juice


Corn starch - 1 tablespoon



 

Instructions:


- Blend blackberry’s until it becomes a lumpy liquid

- Pour blackberry’s into a pan and add the sugar. Cook until hot and stir regularly.

- Add lemon juice in drops to corn starch in a small bowl until corn starch is completely dissolved.

- Add corn starch mix to blackberry mix and keep on heat until the sauce is heated through and begins to bubble.

- Take off the heat and serve immediately, or keep for up to 3 days in fridge and heat through before serving.

 



Thoughts…


-The sauce was sweet, so it needs to go with a very savoury dish.

-I cooked my steak with pepper to make it spicy to counteract the sweet and it worked really well.

-There is a possibility that I thought about, to put a little spice into the sauce itself – maybe some chili. Spicy and sweet always work well together.





                 .......and here it is!












Curried Scallops



This went down very well with my other half last night, so I thought I would add it for you all to enjoy. If I am being completely honest, I made it up. I like to experiment in the kitchen and I think that I have a pretty good idea what goes well with what, and this happened to be one of the good ones. So, here it is…







Ingredients for marinade:


Around 1 tbsp honey

1 small splash soy sauce

Around 1 tbsp dill

Around 1 tbsp curry powder

5 drops of fish sauce

1 tbsp peanut oil

1 tsp sesame oil

A pinch of black pepper, ground not cracked

A good spoonful of butter



Instructions


Mix all ingredients minus the butter, together in a bowl until it has the consistency of a thin but sticky sauce. If you like your food sweet then add more honey, if you like curry, add more curry powder. Play around with it a bit and see what you come up with! I would suggest that you don’t add salt because the soy sauce and the scallops themselves are quite salty, as is the fish sauce and the butter that you are going to cook them in.


Mix the scallops with the marinade until completely coated, then put them onto a plate. Wrap plastic wrap over the plate and put in fridge until you need them – can be left for up to 4 hours but an hour is sufficient for the marinade to set.


Heat the butter (I use I can’t believe it’s not butter light, but anything will do!) in a pan and when it has fully melted, coats the pan and begins to brown, place the scallops carefully in the pan, flat side down. Fry for 2-3 minutes, then turn over and fry for a further 2-3 minutes on the other side. They should be coloured on the top and bottom and warm inside.



Thoughts:


I served mine with grilled asparagus and a red cabbage, beet (root – if you are British) and lentil warm salad. Enjoy!




                             ......and here it is!










Easy Bread

(if you’ve got time on your hands)


This recipe was given to me by a very generous friend. I never thought that I would see myself baking bread regularly because it is such a hassle. This recipe however, if you have time on your hands or if you are particularly good at planning your time, is too easy to be real. I, luckily, have quite a bit of time on my hands at the moment so it works out really well for me! It is very important to leave the mixture overnight…if you don’t have time, don’t make it (trust me on this one!)

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 ¾ tsp salt

½ tsp instant or rapid rise yeast

1 ½ cups of water


Optional Ingredients:

For fruity loaf: Cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins

For chocolate loaf: Coco powder, chocolate drops

You can add any ingredients you like really, as long as they are dry ingredients, not wet.

 

Equipment:

Round cast iron pot (with lid)

Electric mixer



Instructions


In a large mixing bowl, stir the flour, salt and yeast together. I was always told to keep the yeast away from the salt when making bread so I put them on opposite sides of the bowl before mixing – but that might be an old wives tale so take that as you like!

Slowly add the water whilst mixing. I find that starting off with an electric whisk works well because it mixes better than a person can, then once it starts to come together, use your hands (or you will get your whisks stuck!) to finish the job.

Once it has come together in a rough, sticky way – cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 12 hours (overnight is best)

The following day, heat your oven to 450 degrees F.

When heated to 450 degrees F, place the cast iron pot and lid in oven to heat the pot for 30 minutes.

While you are waiting for the pot to heat, pour the dough from yesterday onto a heavily floured surface, with floured hands (or you will end up with a glue-like substance stuck on your hands!) It will have more than doubled in size. The recipe doesn’t mention any working with the dough, but I always knead it a bit to punch it into shape. I also add here any optional ingredients that I want in it, and work them in. When you are done, work the dough into a smooth ball.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave until the pot has heated. Then, remove hot pot from oven (remember that the lid is also hot….or you will be in a bit of pain as I am whilst I write this!)


It happens to the best of us! Drop in the dough, put the lid back on (carefully), and return to the oven for 30 minutes. Then, remove lid and bake for 15 minutes more. If you can, sprinkle some flour on top here, it gives it that ‘freshly baked’ look – just in case anyone questions you!

Remove bread from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack.


Thoughts:

In America, I am not going to sugar coat it, the bread is shocking! Bread that will last in its pack for over a month is not good. This bread can be made whilst you are doing other things and you know exactly what is going in to it.


                  



                            .......and here it is!