Hazelnut and Chocolate Cheesecake

The planned BBQ at Freya’s parents on Sunday almost became a wet one. It was windy and rainy all day, in complete contrast to the previous day – which was sunny and hot and made our Monopoly Board Pub Crawl a very pleasant day indeed.

Aside from all the BBQ’d food – which was delicious – I knocked up this cheesecake in response to Freya’s mums request. It wasn’t quite the desconstructed cheesecake she wanted but it was quick and easy – and time wasn’t on my side on Sunday.

The recipe comes from Nigelissima by Nigella Lawson, so as you can imagine it isn’t particularly low in fat, or low in anything for that matter.  It was made in less that 10 minutes. You just needed to firm it up in the fridge for a while.

Simply blitz some digestive biscuits with some hazelnuts, butter and a scoop of Nutella until you get a soggy biscuity mess. Press this into a spring loaded cake tin.  Then whip the rest of the jar of Nutella with some icing sugar and some cream cheese until smooth. Spread this over the biscuits. Finally top with some crushed hazelnuts.

I did it all in Freya’s mums Thermomix in seconds. Must get one of those!

Clearly I didn’t do this last step. I forgot to keep some nuts to one side so I ended up adding strawberries as a topping instead. Looks just as good I think.

This is delicious. Everyone’s eyes lit up at the prospect of a Nutella anything and it tasted as good as it looked.

Not good for the diet. But amazing all the same

Spicy Lamb Meatballs with Chickpeas in a Spicy Tomato Sauce


What a lovely few days of weather we are having lately. Summer is finally coming it would seem.

I threw this together in less than 15 minutes in an attempt to replicate to some degree Jamie Oliver 15 minute meal that we saw on TV over the weekend. I think I was close enough.

All I did here was empty a tin of drained chickpeas and a carton of passata into a pan and bring to a simmer with half a red chilli and couple of spring onions.

While they are simmering form meatballs from lamb mince mixed with Garam Masalla and fry them off. When they are done add them to the sauce.

I sprinkled chopped coriander on the sauce before serving but that was all I did.

I’m sure there was a salad in there somewhere when we watched the show but this was more than enough.

Thrown together Spaghetti in a Smoky Tomato Sauce with Bacon and Chorizo

I had plans for dinner yesterday but time got away from me and I didn’t make it to the shops to get ingredients.  A quick nose through the fridge and the cupboards and I saw I had everything to throw this together.  It was pretty simple.

Fry some smoked bacon and chorizo and put to one side, leaving all the oils from the meat in the pan.  Fry some onions, add garlic, celery, grated carrot, tinned tomatoes and a little smoked paprika and leave bubbling away for 30 minutes or so.

Meanwhile cook your spaghetti. When it’s ready drain and pour into a serving dish. Pour the tomato sauce over the top and then the bacon and chorizo.  Mix it all together and hey presto – a simple meal from the cupboard.

A simple yummy fix me up when you don’t feel like following a recipe from a book.

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow!

Smokin’ Super-bean, Egg and Tuna Salad

Saturday 13th was the eighth leg of our Year and Day Monopoly Board Pub Crawl challenge.

For those of you not familiar with the concept, before you get married there is a tradition of a Stag and a Hen event; where the men all go and do something for their last day of freedom and the women all do the same. Over the years these two events have tended to get merged into one and everyone just goes out together prior to the wedding and has a good old party – usually very much geared towards the consumption of large amounts of alcohol.

If you live in London, are very much inclined to more than just few drinks in the evening, and love a challenge, then Monopoly Board Pub Crawl is the thing to try. Many try. Many fail.

We decided to put our own spin on this event by having a drink (often more) in every pub in every street on the Monopoly Board – instead of the traditional one drink in one pub on each street. We also decided to do one colour of the board per weekend and spread these out over the year – instead of the traditional all 26 streets in one day rule.

Anyway, yesterday we were round to the Yellow part of the board and we had a great time. We also had a fly over from the Red Arrows – although they were perhaps celebrating Trooping the Colour rather than our wedding jolly!

With Browns, Light Blues, Light Purples, Oranges, Reds, Two Stations and now the Yellows complete all that is left is the Greens, the Dark Purples and Two stations and we’ve completed the whole thing!

When we are done we plan to choose our favourite pub from each street and attempt the event in the traditional style – 26 pubs in 12 hours.

Anyway, nothing to do with food !

We had this salad on Friday and it is packed with fibre and protein. There’s nothing to it really. It’s just very tasty and far better and cheaper than anything you’ll get from the pick and mix salad bar in a supermarket.

Simple mix tinned, flageolet, kidney and black eyed beans in a bowl with tinned tuna, tinned sweetcorn, a red onion, a tomato, lemon juice, olive oil, mint, basil, garlic, a green chilli, smoked paprika, and sugar in a bowl and leave for a while to let the flavours develop.

Serve with some sliced spring onions scattered on top and a quartered hard boiled egg on the side.

Personally I think the egg is unnecessary in this dish. You could easily leave it out. It was very filling as it was.

This was really simple and really yummy. And ready in no time at all. All you need is a knife and a tin opener. I didn’t even need that as all my tins were ring pulls!

Gluten free Quinoa Tabbouleh

Wednesday night saw us being really naughty and eating a burger in The Railway – a JD Wetherspoons in Putney.  Freya was meeting someone so I waited in the pub patiently with a pretty good pint of Devils Backbone American IPA. Tough as it was I managed.
Today was time to rebalance the scales and have a much lower calorie dinner – just to put us back on track with the diet.

This dish comes from a new cookbook that I only received today – The Superfood Diet by Gurpareet Bains. He has previously published Indian Superfood and it is a great book too so I knew I’d made a good choice.

It’s the first of two dishes we ate today. Both are very low in calories and both very very easy and tasty and good for you.

The only thing you cook in this dish is the Quinoa – unless you fancy cooking your own Puy Lentils. I never do; the precooked stuff from Merchant Gourmet is spot on for this kind of thing – especially given you serve the dish cold. If you cook the lentils you’ll have to cool them!

To the cooked and cooled Quinoa you add Puy Lentils, fresh petite pois, fresh broad beans, a red onion, a spring onion, parsley and mint and mix it all together.

The recipe says you can use frozen peas and broad beans and this will soon be a necessity as the fresh variety will be hard to come by soon.

To the mix you add a really simple dressing of lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and black pepper. I added lots of lemon juice and all the bits still left over – segment skins and all. It made the dressing super lemony.

Finally, stir the dressing into the Tabbouleh and chill for an hour to let the lemons infuse into the salad.

This salad is amazing. So tasty, crunchy, lemony and herby. Really great salad.

We are having a BBQ at the weekend and if we do I’ll certainly make this again as a side.

For my Tabbouleh I used mixed Quinoa which had red, black and white Quinoa combined. Regular quinoa can get a little too fluffy and looks a bit plain on the plate. The mixed quinoa cooks at different rates and you get some interesting textures; it looks prettier too.

Loved this. Will definitely make it again.

Jambalaya

Don’t worry I won’t go quoting lines from that song by the Carpenters!

A quick glance in the fridge today and I found a gammon steak and some spring onions. These needed using up before the weekends continued DIY spell on the boat so I looked through a number of books and found this recipe from Sally Butchers Salmagundi.

Jambalaya is somewhat similar to a paella. This particular version is served cold and is ideal for picnics, barbecues or outdoor eating. I chose it because the temperature inside the boat has been 25 degrees today and I really didn’t fancy a hot meal.

This is pretty easy to make. Boil some gammon in water with a bay leaf and some thyme until it’s cooked, remove the gammon and cook the rice gently in the cooking liquid with some chopped tomatoes.

While that’s cooking you have 15 minutes or so to dice some red and green pepper; slice some onion, celery and spring onions and chop some chorizo or other smoky cooked sausage. Also chop your cooked gammon.

You also make a dressing of garlic, lime juice, green chillies and rapeseed oil – which I blitzed in my Nutribullet.

When the rice is done, let it cool and then mix everything together. That’s it.

This far exceeded my expectations. What was just going to be a leftover rice dish turned out to be flavoursome, crunchy, comforting and the sauce was really zingy and lifted it to another level.

Fortunately I made twice as much as I needed so that’s tomorrow’s dinner taken care of too!

Just as well. We have another floor to sand, dye and stain and lots of other boat DIY tasks to get done done during our unusually commitment free weekend. And it’s going to be a warm dry weekend – happy days!

Pancake Day

Bacon, Spinach and Cheddar Pancake

In the UK it was Shrove Tuesday yesterday; or pancake day if you prefer.

Most people forget pancake day these days. It was always a big deal when I was growing up – but the only pancake you’d ever get was dressed in a squeeze of lemon and some sugar. Maybe I was just deprived but it’s all I knew in the 70’s and early 80s.

We already had pancakes this week; Freya and I met up with her brother and his girlfriend in Chelsea for Dutch Pancakes in My Old Dutch. It wasn’t bad although £10 for a pancake with a few pizza toppings is a bit much. That said the beer was reasonably prices and I have a very nice Kriek Boon – which usually costs a lot more.

I promised Freya pancakes this week – and hoped to have a few for dinner before going to our regular Rock’n’Roll dancing class  – but North Circular traffic put a stop to that. It did allow us a good two hours to think about the pizza toppings. It also allowed an amusing text exchange between a couple of my friends – who eventually admitted defeat to my relentless pancake puns.

Bacon, Spinach and cheese was the eventual winner – going totally against the ‘no cooking meat on the boat rule’. Rules are made to be broken though.

Pancakes are pretty easy to make – it’s only eggs flour and milk. Some people add melted butter to the batter, some add and extra egg yolk, some add oil. I opted for the extra yolk option but only because I had one lying around from a previous recipe.

You need your pan to be super hot. I always make my pancakes in a mix of butter and oil – and wait for the butter to brown. I also tend to make savoury pancakes a bit thicker than the sweet variety as the toppings tend to tear the base and it all goes horribly wrong if you need to grill the cheese afterwards. You just can’t shift them out of the pan! Thicker is better in this case.

I fried the bacon in a pan first – I used really cheap bacon bits from Morrisons – I think they were only 89p – in keeping with the frugality of pancake day. In hindsight a better quality of bacon might have been better – less salty for a start – although it didn’t bother me.

Once you’ve make your pancake, top it with trimmed spinach leaves, your cooked bacon and a generous handful of grated cheese. Pop it under the grill and let the cheese bubble.

When it’s ready slide it onto a plate and serve.

I made enough batter for two each but one was enough really. It was very filling and very very tasty.

I think I might start making pancake pizzas from now on. It uses up eggs and milk and there’s always something you can put on a pizza/pancake.