About Corina

Food blogger at Searchingforspice.com

Cod and Dukkah Fish Fingers

Cod and Dukkah Fish Fingers

Now, before you say my fish fingers are a little messy and that I haven’t coated them very evenly I want to say that I didn’t actually make the fish fingers.   No no, it’s not just an excuse because they are not quite as pretty as they could be.  I’m actually rather proud of them even though I didn’t make them.

Well, I got out three bowls, one with flour in, one with egg and one with breadcrumbs and dukkah.   I lined them up and put a baking tray next to the last one.   I demonstrated and then I let Little Miss Spice do all the rest

She seemed to think it was a race – dipping each one in each bowl as quickly as possible and then throwing them on the baking tray.  She was like a little whirlwind but she was at least doing exactly what I’d shown her.  I have never seen anyone coat fish fingers quite so quickly.  It would have taken me far longer, although admittedly they might have looked a little neater!   however as she’s just turned 2.5 I think they are rather good.

You could of course adapt these to use any dried herbs or spices and if you make them as quickly a Little Miss Spice did, then they are almost as quick to get on the table as ready-made fish fingers.

Ingredients – Serves 2

300g cod loin

3 tbsp plain flour

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 egg, beaten

4 tbsp breadcrumbs

2 tsp dukkah

How to Make Cod and Dukkah Fish Fingers

1. Slice the cod into strips about 2cm wide.

2. Get three bowls ready to coat the fish in breadcrumbs.   In the first bowl mix the flour and the cayenne.   In the next bowl put the egg.   In the last bowl put the breadcrumbs and dukkah. Lightly oil a baking tray too.

3. Roll the fish fingers in the flour, then dip them in the egg and finally roll them in the breadcrumbs.  Put them on the baking tray.

4. Bake the fish fingers in the oven at 200c for 15 minutes.

5. Serve with a squeeze of lemon.

I am linking these to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.   They are also my Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too.

Tasty TuesdaysRecipe of the 'Week

 

Chocolate Cake from the Cake Decorating Store

Chocolate cake made with cake mix from the cake decorating store

Is it cheating to use a cake mix?  Why use one when it’s so easy to make a cake anyway?   After all, with a cake mix you still have to add eggs and oil or butter.

I’ve never been a very confident cake maker and don’t have strong feelings either way.   My mum always made cakes from scratch when I was growing up though and so using a cake mix is not something I’ve often thought about.  About 4 years ago I made a cake for the first time and I didn’t decorate it.   The next few cakes were also plain and weren’t decorated.   It felt like it took enough effort to decide on a cake to make, get the ingredients and then make it that decorating it was just a step too far.   I know lots of people will be telling me how simple a cake is to make and I know that now, but at the time I was lacking in cake-making confidence.

The first cake I made that I really wanted to decorate was the dinosaur cake I made for my daughter’s first birthday a year and a half ago.   The problem was, I was running a marathon the day before and I didn’t have a lot of time.   I opted to use a cake mix just to simplify things.   I could then concentrate on decorating it without having to worry about the cake itself.

It’s only in the last year that I have felt confident enough to attempt cake decorating and I have made the cakes and done the decorating from scratch.  Some of my attempts have not looked especially sophisticated but I’ve felt proud of them nonetheless.

So, going back to the idea of using a cake mix, for me using one to make that dinosaur cake was a stepping stone and in retrospect, the most helpful thing about it was the fact that it made me feel I was doing something easy and so I felt confident enough to be more experimental with the actual decorating.   That has to have been a good thing.

Recently I was sent a Barefoot Baker rich chocolate cake mix to try out from the Cake Decorating Store as well as a cake tin and cake tester.  I considered whether to add my own touch and add a little extra something to the cake mix.   Maybe some chilli or other spices.   But then, why mess with a chocolate cake?   You can’t beat a good chocolate cake and I wanted to find out just how good this one would be.

The cake itself is very very dark and chocolatey.  I spread a layer of blackcherry jam in the middle of the cake because I love jam in a chocolate cake (and that’s what my mum does) and topped it with a dark chocolate gananche – 150ml double cream with 150g dark chocolate melted into it.   I then just sprinkled some grated white chocolate over the top of the cake.   Simple, but what more do you need from a good chocolate cake?

I really can’t complain about it.   The cake was moist and tasty and everyone who tried it enjoyed it.   I’m not a convert to cake mixes.   I still want to mix up my own cakes these days, but they definitely have a place and I’d be quite happy to eat this one again.

And what about you?   How do you feel about using a cake mix?

Chocolate cake made with cake mix from the cake decorating store

 

Disclosure: I was sent a free sample of the cake mix from the Cake Decorating Store but was under no obligation to write a positive review.   The opinions here are my own.

Maple and Mustard Glazed Ham

Maple and Mustard Glazed Ham

Quite often when we visit my mum there’s a huge joint of ham in the fridge.   It lasts for days and we just slice a bit off for sandwiches at lunchtime or to make meals with in the evening.

If you visit my house you are unlikely to find any ham at all and if you do, it’ll probably be a supermarket pack with about 5 identical slices in, and the ham itself will be almost unrecognizable from the lovely ham we enjoy at my mum’s.

I thought it was about time things changed.   It was time I attempted to cook some ham myself.  I had to look up the cooking method and I had to decide on a glaze too. Usually at my mum’s the ham is unglazed but I decided if I was making the effort to cook some ham for the first time I really should go the whole hog.

I had recently bought some maple syrup and we love mustard so this Gordon Ramsey recipe caught my eye and I just adapted it a little.   We ate the ham warm and it was really moist and full of flavour.   The glaze was lovely and sweet and we drizzled some of the glaze from the pan onto the slices of ham on our plates too.   My one complaint was that we could barely taste the mustard but it was so delicious I don’t think I’d change it next time anyway.   However, if you did want a stronger mustard flavour then there’s no reason not to add a bit more to your glaze.

Ingredients 

700g piece of ham

1 tsp black peppercorns

3 cloves

100ml maple syrup

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp Worcester sauce

1 tsp mustard

How to Make Maple and Mustard Glazed Ham

1. Put the ham in a large saucepan, peppercorns and cloves in a large saucepan.   Cover with cold water and bring to the boil.  simmer for an hour.  Skim off any scum that gathers on the surface of the water.

2. Mix together the rest of the ingredients to make the glaze.

3. If the ham has skin on then take it off.

4. Put the  ham in an ovenproof dish lined with kitchen foil.    Coat the ham with about 2/3 of the glaze.   Put the ham in the oven at 190C for 20 minutes.   Take it out and coat with the rest of the glaze. Return it to the oven for another 20 minutes.

5. Let the ham rest for 20 minutes before serving.

As cooking ham is a new thing for me I am linking it to Our Growing Edge run by Bunny Eats Design and hosted this month by The Orange Bee.  I am also linking to The Spice Trail at Bangers and Mash.   The spice this month is peppercorns.  Finally I am linking to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.

our-growing-edge-badgeThe spice TrailTasty Tuesdays

Stuffed Butternut Squash

Butternut squash stuffed with tomato, cannellini beans and spinach and topped with cheese

This recipe was not planned at all.   I’d been looking at a butternut squash in my fridge for about a month but each time just leaving it sitting where it was.   Saving it.   I’d like to say I was saving it for something special and complicated that I just couldn’t quite get around to making but the truth is, I’m the only one who likes butternut squash around here and I was just waiting for an opportunity to be home alone to make the most of cooking food only I eat.

We’d had homemade soup for lunch.   Just a very simple soup – tinned tomatoes, cannellinni beans, onions, carrots and peppers.   You could call it stew really as it was very thick.   The type you could almost eat from a plate rather than a bowl.  There was a bit leftover and I didn’t want to eat exactly the same for dinner as I’d eaten at lunchtime.

What I did know was that I wanted to try and use the squash and that is how this meal came about.   I fished out the leftover carrots from the soup as I didn’t want them with the squash.   Don’t worry though, I didn’t waste them.   I ate them as I was preparing the rest of the meal.  I just roasted the butternut squash, scooped out some more of the flesh, mixed it with the leftover soup and topped it with some cheese.   I couldn’t have made an easier meal if I had planned it.

I doubt you have exactly the same leftover soup as me but you could adapt this to use any leftover stew or thick soup, and if you really wanted you could of course make it from scratch too.

Ingredients – all approximate quantities only – Serves 2

1 butternut squash

Salt

Black Pepper

Olive oil

1/4 red onion, diced

1/4 yellow pepper, cut into strips

2 tbsp cooked cannellinni beans

100g tinned tomatoes

Pinch of dried basil

Pinch of dried oregano

Handful of spinach

50g cheese (I used cheddar)

How to Make Stuffed Butternut Squash

1. Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Season with a little salt and black pepper then drizzle with a little olive oil.   Bake in the oven for an hour at about 180C.

2. Heat a little olive oil in a small saucepan and then add the onion.  Cook until soft and then add the yellow pepper.   Cook for a couple more minutes then add the tinned tomatoes, cannellinni beans and herbs.  Bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. When the butternut squash is ready and feels soft all the way through when you test with a fork or knife, scoop out some more of the orange flesh and mix it through the tomato and bean mixture.

4. Put the spinach in the butternut squash and then top with the filling. Return it to the oven for 10 minutes then put the cheese on top and cook it for another 5 minutes.

Butternut squash stuffed with tomato, cannellini beans and spinach and topped with cheeseI am linking this to Family foodies, hosted by Eat your Veg and Bangers & Mash.  The theme this month is vegetarian.  I am also linking to Credit Crunch Munch, hosted this month by My Little Italian Kitchen and run by Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All.

Family FoodiesCredit Crunch Munch

 

Review: Chancham Hot Pepper Sauce and Marinades

 

Chan Cham Sauces

As a food blogger I am lucky enough to be sent samples of various sauces and marinades to try out.   Most recently I was sent some samples of Chancham sauces.   The Chancham Pepper Sauce is where it all started.   It was developed in a cafe in Reading and when the sauce became increasingly popular the owners decided to focus full-time on creating and selling sauces.   Today Chancham is a family-run business owned by three sisters and their partners.

Naturally we had to try the Chancham Pepper sauce first to find out what made this Caribbean sauce so popular.  It’s hot of course and gives a naturally sweet and fruity kick to anything you add it to.   I loved it on scrambled eggs and also on toasted cheese sandwiches.   My husband went the extra mile to make his sandwich with cheese, pickled onions, jalapenos, mayonnaise and the hot pepper chancham sauce.   It could also be used on burgers, pizzas or to flavour stews and casseroles.    As with most hot sauces – a little goes a long way!

The marinades are the perfect size to make a meal for five people, although I’m sure you could make them serve 6.   We first tried the Hot Jerk sauce by cooking some ribs smothered in it in the slow cooker.   I love slow cooked ribs and this was a tasty way to use the sauce, although my husband would have liked them to have been a little sweeter.Chan Cham Jerk Ribs

The Zingy Chilli Marinade has an Asian flavour and so I used it as the base of a vegetarian curry.   It was a really quick meal using mushrooms, peas and spinach – nothing that needed long to cook.   I added some extra spices and coconut and it was really delicious. It may not look the prettiest meal but it was good for a quick midweek dinner.

pea and mushroom masala

 

Disclosure: I received free samples of the sauces and the views in this review are my own.

Mushroom Strudel

Mushroom strudel

I have a weakness for pastry.   Any type of pastry.   I grew up eating pies and quiches a few times a week and so I can’t resist making things like this every now and again.   I’ll admit that I wasn’t eating filo pastry as a child but it still reminds me of the type of food I used to love.

So this month when I received my Secret Recipe Club assignment, Corey at Learning Patience,  it was this delicious savoury mushroom strudel that caught my eye first. Corey comes from the US, has just spent 4 years living in Trinidad and has recently moved to London.  Like me she also loves running but is far more dedicated than I am.   I really need to get back to it as I’ve been a bit lazy over the past month.

Anyway, back to the strudel recipe, Corey made it for a pre-birthday celebration and so if a crowd of people loved it then it had to be good and I know I’d love to nibble on slices of it at a party.   I just made it for me and my husband.   I suspected it would be too good to share with everyone else and I was right!    The mushroom and cream cheese filling is deliciously creamy and a great contrast to the crisp pastry. The breadcrumbs sprinkled between each layer added a bit of extra crunch too.  It kept well in the fridge and was just as tasty reheated the next day.

If I hadn’t made the mushroom strudel I would probably have made Italian Slow Cooker Pork Chops – I still might.   They sound so good and I love using my slow cooker at the moment.

Ingredients – Serves 4

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

500g mushrooms, diced

Salt

Black pepper

120g cream cheese

50g butter

4 sheets of filo pastry

Breadcrumbs

How to Make Mushroom Strudel

1. Put a little oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion until softened then add the garlic and mushrooms.   The mushrooms will shrink and let out some water as they cook.   Continue to cook until the pan goes dry. Then leave to cool.

2. Using a fork mash the mushroom mixture into the cream cheese and season with a little salt and black pepper.

3. Put the butter in a bowl and melt it in the microwave.

4. Put a sheet of clingfilm or a clean tea towel on the work surface. Lay a sheet of filo on top and brush with the melted butter.   Scatter a few breadcrumbs on the top and then lay another sheet of filo on top.  Repeat the layering process by brushing with butter and scattering with breadcrumbs until all the sheets of filo have been used up.

5. Put the cream cheese mushroom mixture onto the filo pastry in a line about 4cm from one of the long sides.   Leave a gap of about 4cm at each end too.

6. Fold over the two ends first.   Then using the cling film or tea towel to help, gently roll the strudel up.    Brush a little of the butter over the top of the strudel and sprinkle with a few more of the breadcrumbs.

7. Bake in the oven at 200C for about 20 minutes.    Leave to cool a little before serving but serve warm.

To see what other Secret Recipe Club participants have made, click on the link below:

Slow Cooked Lamb with Apricot and Almonds

Slow cooked Lamb with apricots and almonds

Recently in a post I said something unflattering about lamb.  Yes, I know it’s only a meat and it won’t get offended but I’ve been thinking about it and I do actually like lamb.   I didn’t use to, but then I didn’t use to like beef either.   I don’t think roast lamb is ever going to be my favourite meal but slow cooked like this?   Yes, that’s something that could get on to my favourites list.

I adapted the recipe from one in the November Sainsbury’s magazine which was for lamb shanks.   I used lamb neck instead.   It’s cheaper so is good if you are on a tighter budget and it’s a great piece of meat for slow cooking too.   This had about 8 hours in the slow cooker and it was falling apart but still lovely and moist when it was ready.   One of the things I loved about this and will do again in the future was using the cooking liquid from the slow cooker to hydrate the couscous.    It was a perfect way of making really tasty couscous and of course it went well with the lamb it was served with afterwards.

The fresh herbs brighten up the dish at the end and the toasted almonds add a lovely crunchy and nutty dimension to the meal too.   Sometimes a slow cooked meal can be a bit mushy so this was a great way of giving it some texture and freshness.

Ingredients – Serves 2

300g lamb neck

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, diced

Small piece of root ginger, peeled and finely diced

500ml chicken stock

Handful of almonds

Small handful of dried apricots

100g couscous

Handful of mint leaves, stalks removed

Handful of parsley leaves

How to Make Slow Cooked Lamb with Apricots and Almonds

1. Put the lamb in the bottom of the slow cooker.   Add the spices and mix into the lamb.  Add the onion, ginger and garlic. Add just enough stock to cover the lamb.   Cook on low for 7 hours.

2. Add the dried apricots to the slow cooker and cook for another hour.

3. Put the almonds in a dry frying pan and heat gently, keep shaking the pan so they don’t burn.   When they are golden, set them aside until you are ready to serve.

4.Take the lamb out of the slow cooker but put it somewhere where it keeps warm.

5.Put the couscous and most of the chopped herbs in a bowl.  Ladle about 160ml of the liquid from the slow cooker over the couscous.   Cover and leave for 10 minutes.

6. Put the pot from the slow cooker on the hob and simmer to reduce the liquid a little.

7. Serve the lamb on top of the couscous, topped with the liquid from the slow cooker, the toasted almonds and the extra herbs.  You could also add some lemon wedges and harissa.

I am linking this to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.

Tasty Tuesdays

 

Creamy Pumpkin, Spinach and Feta Quiche

Pumpkin, spinach and feta quiche

Would you look at this quiche and refuse to eat it?  Can’t you see how creamy, herby and delicious the filling is just from the picture?  Look at the pastry now.   There’s no soggy bottom here either – thin and even with just the right amount of crumbliness.  If I may be just a little big-headed for a moment, I’ll say this is one of the best vegetarian quiches you can make and most definitely the best pumpkin quiche.

Do you dare to disagree with me?  Because if you do, let’s just say goodbye now. If you have been reading my blog recently you may already have quite rightly deduced that this was the delicious pumpkin creation my lovely husband turned down the opportunity of eating.

He may not like quiche and he may not like pumpkin either but sometimes the combination of two things you don’t like can produce something tasty and delicious.  It’s possible to dislike banana and avocado but still love this Banana, Avocado and Nutella Smoothie for example. Now please don’t argue with me and say it’s not the same.   I won’t listen and so you’ll simply be wasting your time.

The only thing I want to say is try this quiche, and then let me know if I’m right or just a bit delusional.  I don’t believe I am, but then I wouldn’t, would I?

Ingredients for the Pasty

225g plain flour

115g butter

1 egg yolk

Ingredients for the Filling

300g pumpkin, peeled and cubed

150g spinach

4 eggs

150ml double cream

150ml milk

100g feta cheese, cubed

Large handful of parsley, chopped

How to Make Pumpkin, Spinach and Feta Quiche

1. Make the pastry case first.   Put the flour and butter in a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs.   Add the egg and pulse briefly until it begins to form a dough.

2. Tip it out onto the work bench and bring it together to form a smooth dough. Be careful not to overwork it.   Wrap the dough in cling film and put in the refrigerator.

3. Sprinkle a little flour on the work surface and roll out the dough so it is thin but covers a 23cm tin.   Put the pastry in carefully and then prick the bottom with a fork. If it is a loose bottomed tin then make sure there are no gaps as the filling will then leak out in the oven.   Put some baking paper in and fill with baking beans.

4. Bake in the oven at 180C for 15 minutes.   Remove the baking beans and baking paper and return the tin to the oven for another 10 minutes.

5. Toss the pumpkin  in a little olive oil and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.  At the same time wilt the spinach by putting it in a pan with a few tablespoons of water.   Leave it to cool in a colander and when it is cool enough to handle, squeeze any excess liquid out.

6. Beat the eggs in a jug with a fork and then add the milk and cream.   Season with salt and black pepper.

7. Put the pumpkin cubes evenly over the bottom of the pastry. Dot with the spinach. Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the top and arrange the cubes of feta cheese evenly over the top of the quiche too.   Pour on the egg, milk and cream mixture.

8. Bake in the oven at 180C for 25-30 minutes until it has just set in the middle.

9. Let it cool for about 15 minutes in the tin before removing the tin and serving.

Vegetarian roasted pumpkin, spinach and feta quiche

 

I am linking this to Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too.  As this contains lots of herbs and spinach I am also linking to Eat Your Greens at Allotment 2 Kitchen.

Recipe of the 'WeekEat Your Greens

Mauritian Chicken Daube

Mauritian Chicken Curry

It’s quite a while since I’ve written about a curry on here.  Far too long in fact, especially considering I would be quite happy to live on curries and spicy stews if I had to choose just one type of food.

Chicken daube is a traditional one pot meal in Mauritius made with chicken, potato and spices.  It’s like a cross between a stew and a curry – all the lovely flavours of a curry but with the consistency of a stew.  Although a daube is traditionally a French stew made with beef, wine and vegetables,  this adaptation has become just as much a traditional Mauritian dish.

If only I could actually go to Mauritius…

I may not be able to travel around the world at the moment and I haven’t even left England during the last three years so trying different spices and cooking up meals like this is the closest I can get to travelling.  Eating this also reminded me of just how much better homemade curries and stews are than anything you can buy and I really really need to make them more often.

I normally like to mix my own spices together but this time I tried a spice blend, Mauritius Massalé from Seasoned Pioneers.   It has a warm peppery flavour and a lovely smell of cinnamon and cloves.   Of course you could use another curry powder or even miss it out altogether and this would still be delicious.   Maybe just add a few cloves and cinnamon. Definitely don’t let not having the right curry powder stop you.

If you do love to try different spices and spice blends and don’t want to mix up your own spices, Seasoned Pioneers have a huge range and it’s worth having a look at what they’ve got.  I’ve recently made a lovely peri peri chicken using their spice rub.

Ingredients – Serves 2

I onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Small piece of root ginger, grated

1 green chilli pepper, finely sliced

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp Seasoned Pioneers Mauritius Massalé spice blend Or curry powder

200g chicken

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 potato, cut into about 8 pieces

Handful of coriander leaves

How to Make Mauritian Chicken Daube

1. Put a little oil in a saucepan and fry the cumin seeds for about 30 seconds.  Then add the onions, ginger, garlic and chilli pepper and cook until soft.

2. Stir in the curry powder and then add the chicken.   Cook and keep turning until the chicken is sealed on all sides but not cooked through.

3. Add the potato, most of the coriander and chopped tomatoes.  Add a little extra water if necessary to just cover the chicken and potatoes.   Bring to the boil and then lower to a simmer for about 40 minutes.

4. Serve with rice and topped with a little of the reserved coriander.

 

 

 

Roasted Vegetable and Harissa Pasta

Roasted vegetables, harissa and pine nuts served with pasta

I quite often stir a spoonful of harissa into couscous or rice to give it some flavour so why not pasta?   It’s also quite normal to just stir a spoonful of pesto into a bowl of pasta so why not harissa?  Exactly.

I had been planning to make this pasta all month long.  I made it last month but a really simple version with just harissa and pasta.   It was one of those days when I didn’t feel like cooking but just wanted to make something quick, easy and tasty.  I was surprised by how much liked it.

This time I made it I wasn’t feeling quite so lazy as before and I also wanted to make the dish a little more interesting and so added some roasted peppers and onions as well as a few pine nuts.   That was all.   You don’t need to do anything else, although if this is too simple for you, I’m not stopping you from making your own harissa.  Whether you do or not, this pasta recipe is really easy and perfect for a lazy week night.  It’s hot and spicy from the harissa and if you love hot pasta sauces I promise you, you’ll love this.

Well, back to my inspiration for this dish, a couple of months ago I made a lovely olive and dukkah pasta for the Secret Recipe Club from Rachel Cotterill’s blog.   That dish was probably the dish that got me thinking about mixing up Middle Eastern and North African flavours with pasta and that led me to using harissa on the pasta dish I mentioned earlier.   When I saw that Rachel was hosting this month’s Pasta Please and that the theme was fusion, I felt I had to take part.

Ingredients – Serves 2

200g pasta

1 red pepper, sliced

1 red onion, cut into 8 chunks

2 tbsp pine nuts

2 tbsp harissa paste

How to Make Roasted Vegetable and Harissa Pasta

1. Put the onions and peppers on a roasting tray and drizzle on a little olive oil.   Roast in the oven at 200c for 20 minutes.

2. Put the pasta on to boil.  At the same time put the pine nuts in another pan and heat them gently so they brown slightly.

3. Drain the pasta and return it to the pan with a little of the water.    Add the roasted vegetables and harissa and heat through.

4. Serve the pasta with the pine nuts sprinkled on top.

This month Pasta Please is hosted by Rachel Cotterill and is run by Tinned Tomatoes.

Pasta Please