Sunday

Chicken Noodle Soup


The classically vibrant chicken noodle soup, is one of my all time favorite meals in winter. It's packed full of nutrients and doesn't skimp on the flavour. I often make the Asian infused version, as I find it adds more character and substance to the soup.

Serves 4
4 chicken thighs, with skin and bones
5 spring onions
5cm ginger piece, skin peeled and finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
2 corn on the cob
200g pak choi, slice the stem and leaf
1 lemon grass
1 chicken stock cube
120g wheat broad noodles
coriander/ cilantro
light soy sauce
toasted sesame seed oil
ground nut oil

1) In a heavy based pan, on a medium high heat, add 2tbsp of ground nut oil and sear the chicken on both sides for 4 mins, each side. Remove and set aside.
2) Slice the white part of the spring onions and leave the green top for later.
3) In the same pan add 1tbsp of toasted sesame seed oil and add the white sliced spring onions, garlic, ginger and half of the red chilli and cook for 2/3 mins.
4) Crumble in the stock cube, give it a stir and add 800ml of boiling water. Stir well and add 3tbsp of light soy sauce. Bruise the lemon grass and add that to the pan.
5) Add the seared chicken thighs into the broth and turn down the heat to a medium low. Leave to cook for 20mins.
6) With a sharp knike, slice the kernels off the cob and add to the pan, along with the two naked cobs. And leave to cook for another 10mins.
7) Remove the chicken from the broth and remove the skin and shred the meat from the bone. Return the shredded chicken to the pan. Add the pak choi stalks only at this point. Leave to cook for 5 mins.
8) Remove the cobs from the pan and add the noodles, pak choi leaves and the rest of the chopped chillies to the soup and cook for 4 mins.
9) Separate the noodles and add a handful of chopped coriander/ cilantro and the sliced green spring onions. Serve immediately.

*Cooks Tip: If you can't find pak choi, any other cabbage will do. Such as a pointed cabbage.

Wednesday

Mince Pies



~21st Century Mince Pies ~
These new generation mince pies were just what my family needed after many years of the classic shortcrust variety. Don't be fooled by their extravagant appeal, they are extremely simple to make. Due to their simplicity and style, they are the perfect addition to any Christmas meal.


Makes 12 Mince Pies
Ingredients
1 orange
10 hazelnuts
50g 70% chocolate
250g mincemeat
370g puff pastry
200g fillo pastry
100g melted butter
icing sugar

1)  Using a pestle & mortar, pound the hazelnuts into fine crumbs. And with a sharp knife chop the  chocolate finely.
2)  On a well floured surface, roll out the puff pastry into a 3mm rectangle. 
3)  Grate half an orange and using your finger tips move the zest around the dough, covering its entire surface. 4) Spoon over the mince meat all over the rectangular dough and sprinkle over the hazelnuts (leaving a hand full aside) and dark chocolate.
5)  Tightly roll the dough lengthways, until you have a long log.
6)  Cut 12 rolls and set them aside.
7)  Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/ gas mark 4
8)  On a clear surface, overlap four corners of the fillo sheets, resulting in a a large rectangle. Thinly brush all over with melted butter. Repeat the process until you have 4 layers, that will be a total of 16 fillo pastry sheets. On the top layer, cover with melted butter.
9)  Using a 12 cup cupcake oven tray, place the buttered side of the fillo pasty layers over it and carefully press in the pastry into the moulds, covering the whole oven tray.
10)  Place the 12 puff mince rolls in each mould and sprinkle the rest of the grounded hazelnuts on top of each one. Brush over the remaining butter over the fillo pastry and sprinkle some icing sugar and place in the preheated oven for 25mins.
11)  Leave to cool completely and break each one apart. Give a final dusting of icing sugar...
12)  Enjoy...






~Luna~


 



Monday

Empanadas


Empanadas are highly regarded in Argentina and can be found on almost every menu. Whether served fried or oven baked, filled with meat, fish or cheese, empanadas have become a staple of Argentinean cuisine. While other countries have their own take on this meat filled patty, the Argentineans are one of the most passionate about them and even have takeaway and home delivery outlets solely for empanadas! The classic filling is the beef filled variety but I wanted to make my own version, combining the empanada casing and a ricotta and salami calzone filling. These empanadas are great to serve at a party or even as an Argentinean dinner.  

Makes 6 Beef & 6 Ricotta and Salami  Empanadas
Ingredients
~For the pastry~
450g plain flour
1tsp salt
1/2tsp black pepper
1tsp baking powder
60g cold lard
60g cold butter
200ml cold water
1 egg, for brushing pastry

~Traditional Beef filling~
250g sirloin steak, fat removed and finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 eggs, hard boiled and shelled
1/2tsp cumin seeds
1/2tsp paprika
1/2tsp chilli powder
10 small black olives, such as leccino, sliced
2tsp tomato paste
olive oil

~Ricotta & Salami filling~
250g ricotta
150g salami block, such as napoli salami, 1/2cm cubes
1 mozzarella ball, dried and finely chopped
50g pecorino cheese, finely grated
1tsp black pepper

1) In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, black pepper and baking powder and mix well.
2) Cube the lard and butter into 1cm cubes and combine them with the flour and incorporate by rubbing the fat and flour together, until they form into fine crumbs.
3) Add the chilled water, bit by bit, until it forms into a soft dough. Place in the fridge to rest for 1hr.
4) Meanwhile, in a large frying pan add 3tsp of olive oil and the finely chopped onion and garlic and fry for 2/3mins. Then add the finely chopped steak and cook until browned. Add the cumin, black olives, paprika, tomato paste and chilli powder and stir well. Season well with salt and black pepper. Chop the eggs and add to the pan, mix well and cook for a further 5mins, then leave to cool completely.
5) Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, add the ricotta, cubed salami, mozzarella and pecorino and mix very well. No need to add salt, as pecorino is salty, but add 1tsp of black pepper.
6) Preheat the oven to 200C/ 390F/ gas mark 6.
7) Half the pastry dough and on a well floured surface, roll it out into a thin sheet. Using a saucer, cut six circles. And repeat the same process for the other half of the pastry dough.
8) On one side of each circle fill with each filling. Brush the edges with egg and fold over and twist braid the edges to close. Or just crimp the edges.
9) Brush with egg and place in the preheated oven for 15mins or until golden.
10) Enjoy!

*Cook's Tip: You can make the empanadas and freeze to cook at a later date. Just egg wash before placing in the oven. Also if your in a hurry or not confident making your own pastry, you can use a ready made puff pastry.

Saturday

Panettone Bread and Butter Pudding

This recipe originates from a classic British dessert, known as 'bread and butter pudding' and dates back to the early 18th century. The use of panettone instead of bread, gives this dessert a completely different dimension and adds a depth of flavour, that only panettone could bring. This is quite an effortless dessert to make, nevertheless,  still manages to please and indulge any crowd.

Serves 6
Ingredients
1 panettone
60g sultanas
200ml sweet dessert wine
200ml milk
300ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
4 egg yolks
salted butter
150g caster sugar

1) Soak the sultanas with the dessert wine for at least 2hrs or preferably overnight.
2) Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/ gas mark 4.
3) In a pan, pour the milk, cream and add the egg yolks and sugar. Slice the vanilla pod length ways and remove the seeds with the tip of the knife and add to the mixture. Whisk them together before adding the pan to a medium low heat for 3mins, whisking constantly. Drain the sultanas and pour the drained dessert wine into the milky mixture and leave to cool down.
4) Remove the crust from the panettone (and enjoy..) and slice the rest into 2cm slices.
5) Add the slices to the bottom of an oven proof dish and cover with half of the milky mixture. Scatter the soaked sultanas and layer more slices of panettone until it reaches the top of the dish and cover everything with the rest of the milky mixture. Leave to absorb for 5mins.
6) Add a few small knobs of butter around the corners of the dish and place in the preheated oven for 35-40mins. You'll know it's done, when you have a crispy topping and a luxurious, firm, creamy centre.
7) Leave to cool until it reaches room temperature and enjoy either on its own, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or warm custard.

Wednesday

Minestrone d'inverno


There is nothing better on a cold winters day than a nice, hot bowl of authentic minestrone. It's a very forgiving and versatile dish, you can adapt the vegetables to suit seasons, preferences, occasion or just simply what you have in the fridge. For the winter version of minestrone, I personally tend to just change the pulses and the green leafy vegetables.

Serves 4
Ingredients
basil
1onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
5 celery stalks, slices
2 large carrots, roughly cubed
150g cubed pancetta, optional
2x 400g plum tomato tins
270g dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight and cooked
400g cavolo nero, or swiss chard, curly kale
1 organic chicken stock cube
100g spaghetti, snapped in small pieces
grated parmesan cheese
olive oil

1) In a heavy based pan, on a medium heat, add 3tbsps of olive oil and add the cubed pancetta. Fry the pancetta until crisp and golden and immediately add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Add a pinch of salt so the onions don't brown and cover with a lid and leave to cook for 25mins, on a low heat.
2) Add the plum tomatoes and season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Stir well and leave to cook for a further 10mins. Slice the stalks of the basil and add to the pan.  
3) Pour in 700ml of boiling water and crumble in the stock cube. Check the seasoning again.
4) Slice the cavolo nero and add to the pan. Followed by the cannellini beans and stir well. Leave to cook on a medium low heat for 5mins.
5) Add the broken pieces of spaghetti and leave to cook for a further 10mins.
6) Grate over a little parmesan and add a generous amount of torn basil leaves.
7) Serve with a nice crusty bread and more parmesan to serve at the table.

*Cooks Tip: Never throw away parmesan rind. For a dish such as this, you can add it to the cooking process and take it out at the end. Once you grate the parmesan as much as you can, store the rind in the fridge and it keeps for months.


 

Tuesday

Thymary Chicken & Couscous alla Peperonata



This vibrant dish is a collaboration of a classic Italian side dish peperonata and a rosemary & thyme infused chicken leg. Mixing the peperonata together with the couscous gives the side dish a new dimension. I find this dish a joy to cook and serve to my friends and family. When a dish can simply lift ones mood with not only it's beautiful flavours, but it's attractive colours, you know you have a winner...


Serves 4
Ingredients
-For the Couscous alla Peperonata
200g couscous
1 chicken stock cube
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
3 red peppers
black kalamata olives
extra virgin olive oil
parsley

-For the Thymary Chicken Legs
4 chicken legs
1 lemon
4 garlic cloves
thyme
rosemary
olive oil

1) Preheat the oven to 220C/ 430F/ gas mark 7. And preheat the grill/broil to the highest setting.
2) Dry the red peppers and rub them with olive oil and grill/broil until mostly charred, all over. Then let them cool.
3) In a oven proof tray add the chicken legs and  4 crushed garlic cloves, chopped rosemary and thyme, salt and black pepper. Rub everything together with some olive oil, making sure all the chicken is covered. Then grate a little lemon zest over the legs and pour half the lemon juice. Place in the preheated oven for 40/45 minutes, until the skin is crisp and golden. 
4) Meanwhile slice the chargrilled peppers lenghways and add them to a pan with olive oil and sliced garlic, on a medium heat. Stir gently, making sure not to break up the peppers. Add the black olives, parsley, salt and pepper. And gently stir again and cook for 5 minutes.

At this stage the peperonata could also be served on its own.
 5) In a large heat proof mixing bowl, add the couscous and crumble the stock cube over it. Add salt and black pepper, with a sprinkle of chopped parsley. Add enough boiling water to cover the couscous about 1cm high. Give it a little stir and cover with cling film for 5 minutes.
6) Fluff the couscous with a fork and add the peperonata and stir again with a fork, making sure everything is well combined.
7) Dress some rocket leaves with a little lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil and plate the thymary chicken and couscous.
8) Smile. And enjoy....


 *Cook's Tip: You can refrigerant the couscous alla peperonata and mix in some rocket leaves & small mozzarella pieces and voilĂ , it's transformed into a vibrant couscous salad. Even more of a reason to smile...
  
     



Sunday

Lamb Biryani



One of the joys and advantages of living in London is the diverse amount of cultures and cuisine that come with them. I’ll never forget the excitement I had as I went to friend’s houses, after school and watch their mothers prepare dishes from such colourful and pungent spices. Indian cuisine, as well as others, has definitely become a prominent part in my culinary influence...


Serves 5/6
Ingredients
4 onions
6 garlic cloves, sliced
8 cm ginger, peeled and grated
750g lamb shoulder, cut into 4cm cubes
1/2 tsp saffron strands
1 tsp cardamom seeds
2 blade mace
6 green cardamom
2 black cardamom
1 tsp chilli powder
5 cm cinnamon stick
5 cloves
2 dried bay leaves
1 tbsp garam masala
3 green chilli, deseeded and sliced
200 ml Greek yogurt
coriander/ cilantro
groundnut oil
Salted Butter
450g basmati rice

1) In a small bowl add the saffron strands with 2 tbsps of hot water and a small knob of butter. Stir until the butter melts and the colour from the saffron has released and set aside.
2) Finely slice 2 onions and place them on some kitchen towel and sprinkle some salt to release their moisture and leave them for 20mins.
3) Meanwhile, using a pestle and mortar, pound the blade mace and cardamom seeds into a fine powder and set this aside also.
4) Squeeze all the excess moisture from the sliced onions and deep fry them in a small pan until they have become golden and drain them on kitchen towel and set aside. 
5) Put half of the fried onions into a food processor with 4 tbsps of hot water and make a puree.
6) In a mixing bowl add the diced lamb and the grated ginger, sliced garlic, chilli powder and onion puree and mix altogether until all the meat is coated. And leave to marinate for 1 hour.
7) Dice the remaining 2 onions and put them in a pan with 6 tbsps of groundnut oil and place on a medium heat for 5 mins, until the onions have soften but not coloured. Then add the cinnamon stick, green cardamoms, black cardamoms, cloves and bay leaf and fry for 30 seconds, until you have a warm aroma.
8) Add the lamb, with all its marinade, and the garam masala, green chilli's and yogurt. Give it a good stir, cover and leave to simmer for 45 mins, turning occasionally.
9) Meanwhile, rinse the rice alternating from hot and cold water, until the water runs clear. Fill with cold water and leave to soak for 20 mins.
10) Preheat the oven to 160C/ 320F/ gas mark 3.
11) Drain the rice and add hot water and bring to the boil for only 5 mins, then drain, so the rice is only half-cooked.
12) In a oven proof pan, put half of the hot meat and cover with half of the rice. Add half of the finely sliced coriander, the pounded blade mace and cardamom seeds and half of the leftover fried onions. 
13) Repeat the process, by putting the rest of the meat mixture and cover that with the rest of the rice. Sprinkle the rest of the pounded blade mace, coriander and fried onions. Then spoon over the saffron liquid in random swirls and add small knobs of butter all around the top. Place a cut out greaseproof circle on top and cover with the lid. Bake for 45mins.


Enjoy...


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Friday

Tiramisu della Nonna


This idealistic Italian dessert may be quite popular but it resonates special memories of my Nonna (grandmother) and I.  I have an abundant amount of memories of my Nonna and I cooking and laughing in the kitchen and making this classic dessert still reminds me of those times as a little girl.

Serves 6
Ingredients
1 vanilla pod or 1tsp vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
250g mascarpone
50g caster sugar
250ml lightly whipped double cream
2 tbsp rum
2 tbsp Tia Maria
350ml strong fresh coffee, cooled
350g sponge fingers, such as Savoiardi
2-3 tbsp cocoa powder

1) Slit the vanilla pod length ways, if using, and scrape the seeds with the tip of the knife.
2) Fill a pan half way with water and bring to a simmering boil. In a heat proof bowl add the egg yolks, caster sugar and vanilla seeds or extract and whisk over the slow simmering water.  Whisk until thick and creamy and the mixture is ready when a trail of foam forms as you lift the whisk.
3) Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Once cooled add the mascarpone and fold in the whipped cream and set aside.
4)  Mix the coffee with the rum and Tia Maria. Dunk the Savoiardi or sponge fingers quickly into the coffee, making sure that they are completely immersed. Note: if using sponge fingers leave in the coffee for only 1 second, or they will turn soggy. Arrange the biscuits in a single layer in a serving bowl and spoon over half the cream mixture.
5)  Repeat this process with another layer of dunked biscuits and another layer of cream. Sift over the cocoa powder in a even layer. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Enjoy...
     

Thursday

Fusilli alla Cacciatore


This recipe has a lot of elements to it, not only is it inexpensive to make but it is very versatile. You could simply make the sauce and leave the chicken on the bone and serve it with rice, or, you can change the basil for parsley and you'll have a completely diffrerent sensation. I personally tend to use more basil in the winter and more parsley in the summer, especially when it comes to tomato sauces.


Serves 4/5
Ingredients
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 red peppers, 2cm slices
Olive oil
4 chicken thighs, with skin & bone
2x 400g Plum Tomato tins
500g Fusilli pasta
170g Mozzarella bocconcini
Black Olives
Basil

1) Preheat the oven to 220C/ 430F/ gas mark 7.
2) In an oven proof casserole pan, add 1tbsp of olive oil on a medium high heat and add the chicken thighs skin faced down. Leave to sear for 4/5 minutes until slightly golden and do the same for the other side and set it aside on a plate.
3) In the same pan, add 2tbsp of olive oil and add the sliced garlic cloves. After a minute add the sliced red pepper and cover for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the peppers has softened slightly.
4) Then add the plum tomatoes and seasoning to taste, stir well and leave to cook, covered, for 15 minutes.
5) Finely slice the basil, stalks only and add them and the black olives to the sauce, stir well and place the chicken thighs, skin face up, on top of the sauce, leaving the skins uncovered by the sauce.  Cover with the lid and place in the oven for 40/45 minutes.
6) Once the chicken to cooked, remove it from the pan and shred the meat from the bone. Dispose of the bones and add the meat back in the sauce with the rest of the basil and stir well and leave to rest. 7) Meanwhile, following the instructions on the pasta and cook accordingly.
8) Add the drained fusilli and the mozzarella to the sauce and stir enough to let the mozzarella melt. Serve immediately.





Tuesday

Mini Chocolate Pithiviers


My original memory for these mini chocolate pithiviers originates from a romantic stroll with my partner. These heavenly pastries were displayed so temptingly in a Parisian patisserie and we both had to try one.  After hunting down the recipe and making them various times, the memory never fades. Perfect with a hot drink, or a cold glass of milk, whichever takes your fancy...

Make 4 Pithiviers
Ingredients
50g roughly chopped dark chocolate
100g roasted almonds, preferably with skins off
100g golden caster sugar
40g salted butter
1 tbsp cocoa powder
3 egg yolks, 1 whisked with 1tbsp of water for glazing
1 tbsp dark rum
2 x ready rolled puff pastry

1) Heat the oven to 200C/ 390F/ gas mark 6.
2) To make the filling, whizz the chocolate, almonds, sugar and cocoa powder together in a blender until it becomes a fine crumb texture.Then add the butter, egg yolks and rum until it forms into a paste.
3) Cut eight 9cms circles from the pastry and lay 4 circles on a baking tray with baking parchment. Divide the filling into 4 circles and place on each pastry circle, making sure to leave a 1cm gap all around. Then brush the gap with the egg mixture and place the other pastry circles on top and enclose each pastry by pinching the two layers. Leave to rest in the fridge for 10-20mins.
4) After cooling, lightly score the pastry's with a knife in swirly patterns and brush them with the remaining egg mixture. Bake for 20-25mins until golden and puffed.


Enjoy.

Sunday

Tiger Prawn Stir Fry


Serves 4
Ingredients:
500g Raw Tiger Prawns
2 Red Peppers
5 Spring Onions
A Broccoli Crown
2cms piece of Ginger
4 Garlic Cloves
1 Red Chilli (add to your preference)
Ground Nut Oil
Cornflour
Light & Dark Soy Sauce
Toasted Sesame Seed Oil
Rice Wine Vinegar
Chinese Cooking Wine Shaohsing Style

1)Prepare by chopping the broccoli into florets, slice the red peppers, and chop the ginger, garlic and chilli.
2) Heat a work at a medium high and add the ground nut oil. Wait for it to smoke, then add the chopped garlic cloves, ginger and chilli. Leave on the heat for 1 minute.
3) Follow that quickly with the broccoli florets and sliced red pepper. At this point add 1 tablespoon of sesame seed oil, 2 tablespoon's of dark soy sauce, 3 tablespoon's of light soy sauce. Leave to cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4) Meanwhile chop the spring onions and add the prawns to the wok. Add the rice wine vinegar and the Chinese cooking wine. Cook for 5 minutes.
5) In a small bowl add 2 tsp of cornflour and 4tsp of cold water and mix well, until it turn into a smooth runny paste. Add this to the wok and stir well, in no time the sauce will thicken and coat everything. Leave to cook for another 3/4 minutes.
6) Add the chopped spring onions to the wok but leave a handful for garnishing. Serve with Jasmine Rice.

Friday

Welcome..

Hello. My name is Luna.
I'm extremely excited to have found a sanctuary where I can share recipes which have been passed down to me and recipes which I have come across during my life...
Every week I'll be postings new recipes, which I hope, will be of use...


Luna...