Baked cod with chorizo and lime crumb

Baked cod with chorizo and lime crumb

This recipe for baked cod with chorizo and lime crumb is a great way to give a big hit of flavour to a lovely piece of fish. Although I’ve used cod, you can substitute haddock or any firm white fish. Make sure you use nice chunky fillets so they don’t overcook while the crust crisps up in the oven.

The fish has a delicious crust made from breadcrumbs flavoured with chorizo, lime, garlic and parsley. Chorizo isn’t exactly health food, but you only need a small amount because it’s such a strong taste. It’s a match made in heaven with fish. The lime zest in the crumb, and the lime juice in the marinade gives the recipe a real zing too! If you’re not keen on lime, you could try lemon instead for a different citrusy twist.

This recipe is also pretty quick to make as well. Although it has a few ingredients in the crust, you really just need to throw them in a food processor and blitz them, which only takes a couple of minutes. Another time-saving option is to make a double batch (or more!) of the chorizo breadcrumb mixture and freeze it for another day.

Baked cod with chorizo and lime crumb – thanks again to the hairy bikers

I’ve adapted this dish from a recipe in The Hairy Bikers’ Eat For Life. I’ve been enjoying quite a few recipes from this book this year. I love spending time in the kitchen, but sometimes you just don’t have the time. I find the Hairy Bikers recipes tend to be really good for relatively simple and quick meals. You could easily make this on a weeknight if you’ve got half an hour to spend on dinner.

 

Green chilli with mint and lime

Green chilli with mint and lime – an unusual chilli recipe from Jamie Oliver

This recipe for green chilli is from one of my favourite cook books – Jamie’s America. The flavours are a bit unusual for a chilli. There’s a clean, sharp edge to it thanks to the mint and lime, and not a huge amount of tomato. It’s dead easy to make and doesn’t need to cook for too long either. It also reheats nicely – great for making a big batch and sticking the leftovers in the fridge or freezer. It’s a really tasty, unfussy recipe. The only complaint I ever get is that scooping up the chilli with your tortilla can be a bit messy. For me that’s part of the fun, but do make sure you don’t make it too wet and sloppy!

Lots of fresh flavours in this easy green chilli
Lots of fresh flavours in this easy green chilli

How hot do you like your Green chilli?

I don’t like to feel like my head’s exploding but I do like a chilli with a bit of kick to it. Obviously, this is a very personal matter, and different kinds of chilli vary hugely. I quite like the Indian finger chillies for this recipe – seeds and all. But if you don’t like things too fiery just reduce the amount or use a milder variety. On the other hand, if I find my chilli is lacking punch, I sometimes just throw in a few dried chilli flakes towards the end of cooking to pep it up a bit. But you know how hot you like your chilli.

Portion Control

My main departure from Jamie Oliver’s original recipe is the quantities – some of his portion sizes are huge! I’ve cut down the amount of pork in this recipe from 800g to 500g for four portions. This is plenty for us at KitchenBlurb Towers, but if you’re very hungry just increase it again! I’ve left the other quantities pretty much the same, as I think the dish works well with a greater veggie to meat ratio.

 

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Chickpea, hot-smoked salmon and pomegranate salad

Chickpea, hot-smoked salmon and pomegranate salad

I found this great recipe for chickpea, hot-smoked salmon and pomegranate salad in the The Hairy Dieters Eat for Life. Like many of the Hairy Bikers‘ recipes it’s nice and simple. In fact, this is about as simple as cooking gets. And actually, it doesn’t involve any cooking unless you decide to cook your own chickpeas – which admittedly, will be even nicer.

Chickpea, hot-smoked salmon and pomegranate salad – Quick and easy lunchbox inspiration

If you do cook your own chickpeas, which admittedly will be even nicer, then you’ll need to plan ahead for the soaking and cooking, but otherwise this salad only takes about 10 minutes to throw together. If you’re taking every shortcut you can buy little tubs of pomegranate seeds at the supermarket so you don’t even have to deal with removing them from a real pomegranate. It’s lazy, but for me this recipe is all about convenience. It makes a great weekday lunchbox salad, and I’m never going to want to spend a lot of time on that!

Chickpea, hot-smoked salmon and pomegranate salad
Chickpea, hot-smoked salmon and pomegranate salad – great for your work lunchbox

A tasty and satisfying salad

Just because it’s quick and easy doesn’t mean this salad is boring. The base of the salad is chickpeas, which are a brilliant salad ingredient. If they’re not your thing then you could try haricots or butter beans, but I love the nuttiness you get with chickpeas. My other half is not a big fan of chickpeas, but that’s fine by me – I get to eat it all myself!

It’s got some lovely interesting flavours. I love hot-smoked salmon. It’s becoming more widely available (thank you Aldi!) and is so convenient and tasty to add to salads. Together with the chickpeas, the salmon makes this a really substantial and filling meal. The pomegranate seeds add a sweet, fresh crunch, which makes a lovely contrast.

 

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Shakshuka with aubergine

Shakshuka with aubergine – a delicious brunch or supper recipe

My shakshuka with aubergine is a slight twist on the classic dish made with eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce. It is popular across many countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Shakshuka makes a great brunch recipe, but it also works well as a lunch or weeknight supper dish. I prefer to make the tomato sauce in advance, as it does take a bit of time. Once you’ve done this, it only takes about 10 minutes to poach the eggs. A much more relaxed way of doing brunch! Serve with some crusty bread to mop up your egg yolks and all the tasty juices.

Shakshuka with aubergine – a twist on the classic

The classic shakshuka involves a tomato sauce with onions, peppers, garlic, chilli and other spices. However, there are many variations depending on personal preference and regional variations. Alternative additions include potato, broad beans, artichoke hearts, cheeses or even spicy sausage. I sourced this recipe from The Guardian – How to make the perfect… shakshuka article. It gives a great rundown of some alternative recipes and their pros and cons. My version is shakshuka with aubergine which does away with the peppers and replaces them with, well, aubergine. This is mainly because Mr KitchenBlurb is not a great fan of peppers, though he is made to eat them on a fairly regular basis. I would be more than happy with either.

The tomato sauce is the time-consuming bit, but it’s pretty simple to make. The only tricky bit in this recipe is cooking the eggs just right. It’s easy to overcook them, and no right-thinking person wants hard poached eggs. In my book, you’re better off with a runny yolk and a slightly-too-soft white, than an overdone egg yolk. But you know how you like your eggs!

Shakshuka with aubergine
Shakshuka with aubergine served with crusty white bread

 

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Low carb cottage pie with cauliflower and blue cheese topping

Low Carb Cottage Pie with Cauliflower and Blue Cheese Topping

I made this low carb cottage pie last week with great results. The potato-loving Mr KitchenBlurb made all sorts of skeptical noises, so I was nervous. But he agreed to try it. I almost made a pie where one half of the topping was potato and the other half used cauliflower, just in case. In the end I was brave and went the whole low carb hog, and I’m very glad I did.

My kitchen clearly disagrees, however – as you can see from the not-so-subliminal carb-laden “Bread” message lurking prominently in the photo above!

Low Carb Cottage Pie – how does that even work?

For this recipe I used my fairly standard cottage pie filling, but a radically different topping. Instead of mashed potato, you use pureed cauliflower. I took this (more or less) from a Tom Kerridge recipe for shepherd’s pie with a very similar topping. I’ve not tried the full Kerridge shepherd’s pie recipe yet – but it is on my list.

I found that the puree from one pretty large cauliflower made enough for 3-4 portions, depending how hungry you are. Lacking double cream, I substituted a spoonful or two of marscapone that needed using up. It seemed to work very well, and creme fraiche would do the job just as well. The blue cheese is enough to give a noticeable but not overpowering flavour, and combines really well with the cauliflower.

The overall effect is very creamy and feels quite indulgent. However, it also feels lighter and less stodgy than a potato topping. We both really enjoyed it and I’ll definitely make it again.

Cottage Pie Filling – always a bit improvised

I would always remain fairly relaxed about the exact ingredients and quantities for a cottage pie or shepherd’s pie filling. More often than not, I mince up leftover meat from our Sunday roast rather than buying uncooked mince. The amount I use is the amount I’ve got, and I adjust the vegetable and stock quantities accordingly.

A great dish to make in advance

I regularly make meals like cottage pie or shepherd’s pie in advance. The prepared pie can be popped in the fridge to be baked later. I also often make a large quantity and either freeze the extra filling, or even put together whole extra pies ready to defrost and go straight in the oven at a later date. This means you get several meals for the effort of preparing one – convenience food at its best.

Courgette, mozzarella and pancetta pasta bake

Courgette, mozzarella and pancetta pasta bake – it’s comfort food time!

Pasta bakes must be one of the ultimate comfort foods. I don’t make them too often because they tend to be a bit sinful – loaded with cheese and carbs – however, at least this dish is also packed with veggies and garlic, so the cheese doesn’t count, right? This courgette, mozzarella and pancetta pasta bake is very simple to make – you can get on with most of your preparation while the courgettes are cooking. It can be made in advance ready to just pop in the oven for 20 minutes when you need it.

For a vegetarian option, just leave out the pancetta (although as I’m not a vegetarian, I find it very difficult to omit any option involving bacon!)

Courgette, mozzarella and pancetta pasta bake

This recipe is adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Hugh’s Three Good Things… on a plate, which has some really nice no-fuss ideas for simple dishes based around a few key ingredients.

Using a mandoline makes slicing courgettes super-speedy
Using a mandoline makes slicing courgettes super-speedy

Your first job is to slice the courgettes, either with a knife or a mandoline slicer. A knife will do the job, but this is one of those times when I’m really glad of a mandoline. It will speed through several courgettes in no time at all – but do watch your fingers!

Now gently fry the sliced courgettes in for up to 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are softened. After about half an hour they will have cooked down nicely into a meltingly soft, almost mushy texture.

While the courgettes are cooking, remember to keep stirring them while you prepare the other ingredients. Now is the time to chop the garlic, tear the mozzarella, grate your Parmesan, fry your pancetta (if using), and cook your pasta.

Softened courgettes and garlic with pancetta

Once the courgettes are nearly ready, add the garlic to soften for a minute or two, and then mix in the fried pancetta.

Next stir in your cooked pasta, torn mozzarella and double cream into the courgette, garlic and pancetta mixture. Transfer the mixture to a greased oven dish and sprinkle with grated Parmesan. It is now ready to bake in the oven, or pause at this stage to cook it later.

Courgette, mozzarella and pancetta pasta bake ready to go in the oven
Add the grated Parmesan and your pasta bake is ready to go in the oven

When you’re ready, pop your pasta bake in the oven until it’s gorgeously golden brown on top. This will take about 20 minutes if you’re baking it straight away. If it’s been prepared in advance and just come out of the fridge, add another 5-10 minutes.

Courgette, mozzarella and pancetta pasta bake
Courgette, mozzarella and pancetta pasta bake

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Baked stuffed peppers - with mushrooms, feta and sun-dried tomatoes

Baked stuffed peppers – with mushroom, feta and sun-dried tomato

This tasty vegetarian recipe for baked stuffed peppers is very easy to prepare. I adapted it from a Hairy Bikers recipe in their first Hairy Dieters book. Although there are a few different ingredients, you only need to do a bit of chopping and a few minutes of frying. After that you just pop the peppers in the oven and let them cook away – easy peasy!

 

Baked stuffed peppers – with mushroom, feta and sun-dried tomato

This recipe for stuffed peppers is delicious, healthy and surprisingly simple. It delivers a fantastic combination of flavours and textures. The sweet peppers melt in your mouth. The mushrooms are juicy and earthy. The feta is comfortingly creamy and tangy. The sun-dried tomatoes add piquancy, and the chilli flakes give you a welcome, warming kick. The crispy breadcrumb topping and the toasted hazelnuts add a delightful crunch.

Vegetarians and non-veggies will love you for this one. After all the indulgence of Christmas and New Year, it’s packed full of good things but feels like a treat. A great healthy recipe for January!

 

 

No-fuss breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs come in very handy in a variety of recipes, such as stuffings or meatballs. However, making small amounts of breadcrumbs is quite faffy, so I tend to make a batch of breadcrumbs from a whole loaf, and freeze the leftovers. They defrost really quickly, and you can freeze them in a single large bag. Just break off a portion of the frozen breadcrumbs when you need them – it crumbles off easily. I don’t often have a lot of white bread kicking around at home, but it’s worth baking a white loaf when I’m making a batch of breadcrumbs. This saves me from random shop-bought white bread, which always seems weirdly chewy and lasts a suspiciously long time before it goes mouldy!