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P1020180

These are Jamie Oliver’s tuna meatballs (le migliori polpette di tonno) from Jamie Does…  and the recipe is here on his website. I’ve made these before, and absolutely loved them. But to be honest, this time, I found it a little bit tricky. I had ball collapse. I halved the recipe, and I think I may have got a bit confused with the proportions (what, you have to divide by two?). Also, I think the pine nuts could have benefited by being chopped a little. I (rightly I think) roasted the pine nuts in advance, which wasn’t in the recipe.

The end result however, was absolutely wonderful. I really love the texture of the pine nuts, and although it’s a three-pan-meal and I splashed the walls with the tomato sauce when I was whizzing it up, it was well worth the effort.

I wasn’t going to bother including the recipe, because it is available here already. But I thought I’d include the ingredients, just for my own reference.

Ingredients

The tomato sauce

  • olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 x 400g tinned tomatoes
  • red wine vinegar
  • 1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper

The meatballs

  • olive oil
  • 400g tuna
  • 55g toasted pine nuts
  • 1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 100g stale breadcrumbs
  • 25g Parmesan
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper

SERVES 4
 

P1020177

They’re having a cake sale at Beth’s nursery this morning, and I wanted to make something a little bit summery to cheer us up in this awful weather. The secret to these little cakes is that as well as desiccated coconut, there is coconut milk in the cakes and in the icing, this really brings out the flavour and acts as a counterbalance to the sharpness of the lime.

Ingredients

For the cakes

  • 110g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125ml coconut milk
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • zest of 1 lime

For the icing

  • 100g mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk
  • 125g icing sugar
  • juice of 1 1/2 limes

For the topping

  • 40g toasted desiccated coconut
  • zest of 1 lime

The cakes

Set the oven to 150C

Whisk together the butter and the sugar. Add the eggs and whisk again. Add the coconut milk a little at a time. If the mixture starts to separate add in a tablespoon of flour. Continue untill all the coconut milk has been added and then sieve in the remaining flour and baking powder.

Stir in the lime zest and desiccated coconut.

Spoon the mixture into cake cases and bake for around 20-25 minutes.

The icing

Mix together all the ingredients, tasting as you go along. I found I needed  little extra lime juice than I was expecting, but I do like sharp flavours. If the mixture looks too wet, add a little more icing sugar.

Wait for the cakes to cool and then spread over the top.

The topping

To toast the coconut just sprinkle it in a frying pan and allow to turn a golden brown. Keep an eye on it all the time – it doesn’t take long to turn from white to toasty to burnt. Remove from the pan so it doesn’t continue to cook.

Allow to cool before sprinkling on top of the mascarpone icing. Add a few strands of lime zest as decoration.

MAKES 21.

 

P1020161

These are just so yummy, and chewy and gooey. Perfect as a sandwich-box treat, and they make the house smell so lovely and old-fashioned and homely whilst they’re cooking.

Ingredients

  • 125g butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 180g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 50g chopped roasted hazelnuts
  • 75g chocolate chips

 

Whisk the butter and sugar together. Add the golden syrup, vanilla extract and egg and whisk some more. Then sieve in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Finally stir in the hazelnuts and chocolate chips.

By now the mixture should have formed a dough. Put the dough in the fridge for about half an hour.

Set the oven to 150C.

Line two baking trays.

Form the dough into small balls, no bigger than a ping-pong ball. Then press into little disks on the baking tray. Allow plenty of room for the mixture to spread.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown and delicious.

MAKES 20.

P1020159

This muffin making seems to be becoming a habit. I have made these as a thank you to my friends Dave and Jo. Little do they realise that they are part of my Great Muffin Experiment. I don’t usually use butter in muffins, but I ran out of oil so I did a little mixing. Also there’s more flour than usual here, but I’m hoping that the orange juice and blueberries will stop the muffins from being too dry.

Ingredients

  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 50g melted butter
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 eggs
  • 50ml milk
  • 275g self-raising flour
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 150g  blueberries
  • a sprinkle of demerara sugar to finish

Set the oven to 180C.

Whisk together the oil, melted butter and the juice. Whisk like crazy. Add the eggs and whisk some more. Add the melted butter and eggs and the oil. Add the sugar and whisk again. Then add the milk, and do a little more whisking.

Sieve in the flour and baking powder, then the sugar.  Stir well. Then add the blueberries and give one last, gentle stir before spooning into muffin cases.

Sprinkle a little demerara sugar over the top, and bake for 20-25 minutes.

MAKES 12

P1020158

Both Angela Hartnett and Nigella Lawson do something similar to this. Nigella hilariously and marvellously uses black pasta and rosé, and I sometimes use her recipe when I’m feeling extravagant. This is my version, a little more down to earth. If I’m feeling even more workaday I use salmon instead of red mullet, and if I only have spaghetti, I will of course use that instead of linguine.

A lot of recipes will tell you to de-seed and peel your tomatoes. I never de-seed, but I can occasionally be persuaded to peel. Not this time though.

Ingredients

  • 200g linguine
  • a knob of butter and a splash of olive oil for frying
  • 3 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 red mullet, filleted
  • 150g chopped, fresh, cherry tomatoes
  • 150ml white wine
  • 2 tsp capers
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • a few snips of fresh basil

Start cooking the linguine according to the packet instructions.

Put the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan and very gently soften the chilli and garlic with the spring onions. Do not allow to brown.

Add the fish fillets skin side down. After a couple of minutes turn the fish over, and cook for another minute.

The fish should be almost cooked. Add the chopped tomatoes, white wine and capers and cook for another couple of minutes. Throw in the parsley and basil and serve the fish over the linguine in its tomatoey, capery sauce.

SERVES 2.

P1020153

The children were at school when I made these, so guess what? I got to lick the bowl myself! If you find the orange in these a bit subtle, you could add a few drops  of orange essence.  Or try using Terry’s Chocolate Orange instead of dark chocolate (just bash with a rolling-pin). Delicious!

Ingredients

  • 125ml olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 250ml low-fat natural yogurt
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 150g chocolate chips
  • a sprinkle of caster sugar to finish

Set the oven to 180C.

Whisk together the oil and the eggs.  Then add the yogurt, orange zest and juice, and do a little more whisking. Add the sugar and whisk some more.

Next, sieve in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Then add the chocolate chips. Fold them all into the mixture.

Distribute into paper cases and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Sprinkle over some caster sugar as a finishing touch.

MAKES 12

P1020147

It’s been so cold this week I’ve been wearing a woolly hat indoors. These spicy biscuits are just the thing to warm us all up. I have to say it’s a little bit nerve-wracking, making these with children because of the hot sugar and melting butter, but we managed to get through it accident-free.

Sometimes I add stem ginger or dark chocolate chips to this recipe, but I’ve stayed with the classic on this occasion.

Ingredients

  • 125g golden syrup
  • 50g butter
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1-2 tsp ground ginger

Set the oven to 180C and line two baking trays.

Weigh the syrup, butter and sugar directly into a non-stick saucepan.

Sieve the flour and ground ginger into a large bowl.

Melt the syrup, butter and sugar until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the organge zest and juice to the flour. Then pour in the warm ingredients and stir in thoroughly.

Use a teaspoon to measure the mixure onto the tray and bake for about 12 minutes, until brown around the edges.

MAKES 12.

P1020144

 

P1020141

It’s a doddle. We probably have a variation of this once a week. You can mix and match the vegetables, depending on what’s in the ‘fridge. It is very quick – once the ingredients have been prepared takes just 25 minutes in the oven. Best of all, we both like it!

Ingredients

 

  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 stick celery finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, slivered
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 lime
  • a grating of ginger
  • 100ml white wine or fish stock
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach, washed
  • 2 portions of noodles
  • coriander

 

 

Additional ingredients might include, red pepper, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, fennel and fresh basil.

Set the oven to 200C.

Share the diced carrot, spring onion, celery and garlic between two sheets of tin foil. Lay the salmon over the vegetables. Pour the lemon or lime juice and a few fine peelings of zest over the salmon. Grate some ginger over the top.

Scrunch the edges of the tin foil together to create little parcels. Pour the wine or hot fish stock around the salmon and seal the top of the tin foil parcels. Make sure there’s enough room for the steam to circulate.

Place on an oven-proof tray and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Share the uncooked spinach between two bowls.

Once you have cooked your noodles, put them in the bowls on top of the spinach – the heat of the noodles should just wilt the spinach without over-cooking it.

Then take your salmon with the vegetables and juices and pour onto the noodles. Add a sprinkle of coriander as the finishing touch. Serve with a little sweet chilli sauce.

SERVES 2.

P1020132

I made this for the first time last night, and it went down very well.  It was quick and easy to make, and a good low-fat dish.

Ingredients

  • 350g turkey steaks
  • 2tbsp cornflour
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, quartered and sliced
  • 150g mushrooms
  • 150ml white wine
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 red pepper (capsicum)
  • 10 sugarsnap peas
  • 3 spring onions, cut into 3
  • 150ml low-fat creme fraiche
  • 2tbsp chopped parsley
  • paprika, for dusting

First, slice the turkey into thin strips, put on a plate and dust with cornflour.

In a non-stick pan, fry the turkey (or chicken would do) and onions in a little oil until lightly golden. Add the mushrooms and allow to colour slightly.

Add the white wine, and allow it to reduce. Then pour in the chicken stock and the dijon mustard.

When you are nearly ready to eat, add the red pepper, sugarsnap peas and spring onion.Then pour in the creme fraiche, and give it a good stir. Finally, add the chopped parsley and a dusting of paprika.

This time I served with pasta, but white rice would work just as well.

SERVES 2

P1020130

I make these for the children, but the only reason I don’t give them to Jim is that they are a little bit fatty. Though to be honest he always hovers about with his tongue hanging out in a wolfish way when I take them out of the oven.

Ingredients

  • 250g mince
  • 30g (about one slice) breadcrumbs (sometimes I use rice)
  • 1 1/2 inch leek
  • 1/2 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 egg
  • a little oil for frying

Set the oven to 200C

Put the bread, leek, garlic and parsley into a food processor and whizz down until the bread is properly crumbed.

Pour into a bowl with the mince.

Add the egg, to bind it all together.

Give it a good mix (hands are best) and make into balls.

Fry until golden on the outside, then bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

I would like to serve these with spaghetti and a lovely, healthy, tomato sauce, but my children have decided they won’t eat it. So instead they get spaghetti and gravy, with broccoli on the side.

MAKES 12, which is enough for two meals for my two children. They are a staple of my freezer.

I use the other half of a packet of mince to make a bolognese sauce, which I portion off and freeze – I can get another three meals (for two children) out of that.

Here's one I made earlier

Here's one I made earlier

Hi, my name's Helen and I live in London with my husband and two children. When I started piping the potato on my shepherd's pies, my husband suggested that it might be a good idea for me to find an outlet for my creativity, so here we are. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, the extra twist is that I don't eat meat (I do eat fish though) and Jim, who loves meat, is always on a diet. Here are a few recipes that I have enjoyed making for my family.

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