Monthly Archives: January 2012

Piña Colada Frozen Yoghurt

Any normal person, when faced with a jug of coconut flavoured glacé icing would probably have thrown it away.  But, Gemma being Gemma and this being recipeforprocrastination, I had to make something with it.  Lurking in my fridge was also the majority of a large tub of natural greek-style yoghurt and half the pineapple I used to make the sweet and sour the other day.  Whiz it all together and stick in the freezer and you have a quick but delicious and surprisingly refreshing dessert.  Yum!  I haven’t given any measurements here as I didn’t use any myself – somewhat a case of trial and error I’m afraid!

Love love

Gemma xx

Piña Colada Frozen Yoghurt

It doesn't exactly 'scoop' in the traditional sense of the word, but anything can look vaguely presentable when it's served in a glass with a couple of chocolate fingers 🙂

Icing Sugar
Coconut Cream
Lemon Zest
Fresh Pineapple
Natural Greek Yoghurt
Fresh Mint
A shot of White or Dark Rum (optional)

  1. Add the coconut cream to the icing sugar until the sugar dissolves.  Stir through the lemon zest.
  2. Remove the skin and core from the pineapple and chop into small dice.  Add to the coconut mix, along with any juice from the pineapple.  Stir through the yoghurt.
  3. Chop the mint very finely (I used the mezzaluna) and stir through the yoghurt.  Use a hand blender to blend the yoghurt until the pineapple is smooth (or to the consistency you desire).  If I had had some rum in the house, I’d’ve poured a little in at this point and stirred it through.  Be careful not to add too much though – it will prevent the yoghurt from freezing if the alcohol content is too high!
  4. Place in a wide, shallow freezer-safe tub (funnily enough, an ice-cream tub is perfect for this…).  Remove from the freezer every hour or so, and break up with a fork, to ensure the ice crystals are not too large.
  5. Serve with your chosen pudding, or as a dessert in its own right in a pretty glass.  Add some of your favourite tipple – I poured a large measure of green ginger wine over mine and it was yummy!  It melts fairly quickly – so eat it fast!

Vegan Carrot and Sultana Wholegrain Muffins


It has been a busy busy few days for little old me.  It was my birthday on Friday, so I’ve not really been doing much in the way of cooking – Thursday night was a meal with A Man’s mum and step-dad at the Bath Arms, Crockerton which introduced me to the (surprisingly very very tasty) combination of belly pork and mackerel, Friday saw some incredible beef ribs with tamarind sauce at Las Iguanas, Bristol Harbourside, Saturday was a supermarket pizza and salad, Sunday reheated frozen lamb tagine with Disney films and lots of cups of tea and yesterday I threw some disappointing peri peri spice mix at some chicken legs.  At least the chicken was moist though, I guess.

Given how much we’ve spent in the past few days, we’re having a freezer week this week and attempting to make a good dent in my stash of home made ready meals.  Tonight it’s A Man’s beef stew.  There won’t be much in the way of posting this week, but there’s still the opportunity for a couple of little sweet recipes.

I made these muffins for a friend’s birthday.  They’re fairly allergy-friendly (obviously, depending upon the allergy in question…) as they’re egg and dairy free, and use rye flour which is low in gluten, although you can use ordinary wheat flour if you prefer.  Exchange the ingredients for your own if appropriate.  It’s also good to know that they’re relatively virtuous, and are even healthy(ish) enough to eat for breakfast, if you forgo the glaze…

Love love

Gemma xx

Vegan Carrot and Sultana Muffins

Adapted from Abel and Cole’s “Oh-so-virtuous Carrot Muffins”

I think they deserve the phrase "messy-licious"...

300 ml Coconut cream
Zest of 1 lemon
50 ml Orange Juice
250g Wholemeal Rye Flour
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Freshly ground Nutmeg
1 tsp Ground Ginger
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
Pinch Salt
Around 50g Brown Sugar, depending on how sweet you like your muffins
2 medium carrots, grated
Handful of Sultanas
Handful of Sunflower Seeds
Icing Sugar, more coconut cream and lemon zest for the Glaze

  1. Preheat the oven to 180OC/350OF/Gas mark 4.
  2. Sift the flour, spices, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar into a bowl.
  3. Stir the carrot, sultanas and sunflower seeds through the flour.  Add the coconut cream, lemon zest and orange juice and stir gently – don’t overwhip.
  4. Spoon into muffin cases and bake for around 20 minutes.
  5. Once cooled, you can glaze them if desired by mixing icing sugar with enough coconut cream to form a paste, adding some lemon zest and spooning over the top of the muffins.  I had loads left over and used it to make piña colada frozen yoghurt.

Belated Chinese New Year Sweet and Sour Pork

Excuse me while I go back in time a couple of days…

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!

Yes, I realise I’m a little slow off the mark on this one, but with good reason – my pineapple wasn’t ripe 🙂  I’ve not done home-made sweet and sour for ages and that’s a travesty because it’s a) very easy to make and b) much much tastier than jar stuff and many (though not all) takeaways.  This doesn’t have the neon colour that you may have come to expect, but does pack lots of yummy flavour, so is well worth a go if you fancy the slight indulgence.  Adjust the sauce ingredients to suit yourself.

This recipe is adapted from the one my mummy makes on occasion.  I have a memory (one of those really vivid ones which she won’t remember at all!) of a night when I was around 10 years old, and Mum made chinese food – sweet and sour included.  I stayed up until gone midnight with Mum, Dad and the oldest of my 3 little brothers eating Chinese, playing Mahjong and watching films.  That was the first time I saw Highlander and Sleuth.  See – very vivid memory!

Add whichever ingredients you like – water chestnuts are particularly good for the crunchy texture they add, and cashews are good in this too.  It works well with chicken too.

I love Chinese food!  What are your favourite recipes?

Much love

Gemma xx

Sweet and Sour Pork with Stir Fried Veg Noodles

An errant strip of carrot attempts to escape the noodles...

Pork, diced
1 small or 1/2 large pineapple (you can use tinned pineapple, but it will be incredibly sweet)
Toasted sesame oil
Fresh root ginger
Ground ginger
Chinese 5 spice powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
200 ml orange juice
50 ml vinegar (rice or cider vinegar are good)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato purée or ketchup (I used ketchup)
2 tablespoons cornflour

Brussels Sprouts
Sesame seeds
Egg noodles

  1. Remove the skin from the pineapple and chop into fairly small pieces, discarding the core.  This can be a pretty messy job, as ripe pineapple is JUICY!
  2. Slice the onion and pepper into fairly large chunks and stir fry in a little sesame oil.  Peel the fresh ginger, and slice thinly.  Add to the veg with ground ginger and 5 spice to taste.  Stir well.
  3. Add the pork to brown, followed by the pineapple and juice.  Fry on a medium heat for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Mix together the sugar, juice, vinegar, soy sauce and tomato.  At this point, taste the sauce and add more of whichever elements you feel it needs.  Add to the wok and turn the heat down low.  How long you have to cook this for depends on the type of meat you’re using – if it is lean, then it won’t need very long.  I used diced pork shoulder which is fairly fatty and needs long cooking, so I put it in the slow cooker on ‘low’ for a couple of hours.
  5. Slice the carrot into thin strips, or ribbons using a vegetable peeler.  Slice the sprouts and mushrooms thinly to, and stir fry in sesame oil with the sesame seeds.
  6. Mix the cornflour with a little cold water and add a little at a time to the sweet and sour, turning the heat up.  The cornflour should cook out, leaving the sauce clear rather than milky, and somewhere between thick and gelatinous.  Add more cornflour, depending on how gloopy you like your sauce.
  7. Cook the noodles and fry with the veg.
  8. This is a great base for a miniature chinese feast if you fancy having a get-together – get everyone to make and bring a different dish.  Here are a few ideas of other dishes you could have:

Beef Stew Not-Pot

A couple of weeks ago, I ventured off to London town to see some friends, and A Man collected me from the station on my return.  Little did I know, but he had cooked a beef and ale stew with dumplings for when I got back 🙂

There was plenty leftover, so some went in the freezer and some was cooked in this potato pie-type creation in the oven.  Nothing like a hot-pot really, as it was neither made from mutton nor lamb, and the potato layer only covered the top rather than being layered throughout the dish like a lasagne, but it looked like it from the outside.

Much love

Gemma xx

Beef Stew Not-Pot

Diced braising steak
Crushed garlic
Butternut Squash
Salt and Pepper
Beer or Ale
Potatoes, thinly sliced

  1. Chop all the veg into large chunks.  Fry the onion and garlic in a little oil and place in slow cooker with the other veg.
  2. Warm a little beer in the garlic pan.  Coat the beef in seasoned flour and poach in the beer.  Add to the slow cooker with the stock and enough beer to cover.  Cook for several hours until the meat and veg can be cut with a spoon.  Season if necessary.
  3. Thicken the stew with cornflour mixed with cold water.  Place the stew in an ovenproof dish.
  4. Boil the potato slices in water for a couple of minutes until starting to soften.  Layer over the top of the stew and cook in a hot oven until golden brown and crispy.

Cous cous stuffed Lemon Chicken


The other day, I was lucky enough to be able to buy an enormous organic chicken from the supermarket, which was marked down to £4 as it happened to be short-date.  I immediately chopped the legs off and shoved them in the freezer for future use, and then turned my attention to the rest of the chicken.  Technically not a crown (it still had the wings attached), I decided to roast it as if it were.  You can do this with a whole bird too, should you so desire.

With a crown, there’s a slight risk of the breasts drying out, hence my slightly over-zealous (but damned delicious) method of breast-moistening.  Not only did this produce superior chicken, but some of the best damned cous cous I’ve tasted in a bloody long time.  Even if you don’t eat it as ‘stuffing’ with the bird, it’s worth making anyway to accompany salad during the week.  I wish I’d thought to get a photo of my lovely chicken before it was sliced – it was beautiful.  I’ve got one of dinner on our plates, but it’s just not the same somehow.  So instead, make do with a photo of a lemon and some thyme 🙂

Love love

Gemma xx

Cous Cous Stuffed Lemon Chicken

Lemon and thyme - two classic ingredients brought together beautifully in one roast chicken.

1 whole chicken or chicken crown
Unsalted butter, softened
3 fresh lemons
Handful fresh thyme leaves
A few fresh sage leaves
A little dried rosemary
Salt and Pepper
Cous Cous
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
Sunflower seeds
Olive oil
2 eggs, beaten

  1. Preheat the oven to a medium-high temperature.
  2. Zest oneof the lemons and chop the zest very finely with the herbs.  Mix the herbs and salt and pepper with the butter.
  3. Separate the skin of the chicken from the meat.  Rub the herb butter between the two layers, taking care not to break the skin.
  4. Finely slice the zested lemon, and push the slices under the buttered skin of the chicken.
  5. Gently fry the onion, garlic, sunflower seeds and zest of the other lemons in some olive oil until the onion has started to go translucent.  In the meantime, juice the lemons.
  6. When the onion is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and add the lemon juice to warm through.  Stir this mixture through the cous cous, adding some hot water if necessary.
  7. Once the cous cous has steamed through, mix in the eggs and stuff the chicken.  Place in a roasting tin in the preheated oven, with any veg you wish to roast.  Cook for around 50 minutes – 1 hour, or until the meat juices are clear when poked with a skewer in the thickest part.
  8. Serve with roast vegetables – we had roast potatoes, parsnips and squash and mashed swede and carrot.  Once the carcass has cooled, pick off any meat that remains and stir through the remaining cous cous to eat cold (it’s delicious!).  Use the carcass to make stock.

Pork and Aubergine Curry

A Man prepared this, and it was stuck in the slow cooker, ready for when he got back from work and I from school.  It’s a great way to cook curry, and curry is a great way to cook cheap cuts of meat.  I love aubergine in curries, both for the flavour and the fact that they break down in the cooking and thicken the sauce.  You could do this with beef, lamb or chicken thighs if you prefer.  This is good for leftovers too, particularly roast dinners – add all your meat and veg from dinner, along with any gravy that you’ve got hanging around. I’ve filed this under “speedy” – although it takes ages to cook, the actual prep is minimal and the sort of thing I used to do before lectures when I was at uni.

Love love

Gemma xx

Pork and Aubergine Curry

Pork, cut into cubes (we had shoulder, but any cut will do)
Onion, diced
Aubergine, cubed
Pepper, chopped
Fresh chilli, diced
Coriander seeds
Ground coriander
Ground chilli
Tinned tomatoes
Cashew Nuts

  1. Fry the onion in some oil on a very low heat.  Grind the chilli and coriander seeds with some oil in a pestle and mortar.
  2. Stir the spices into the onion and fry gently.  Add the pepper and aubergine.
  3. Brown the meat with the vegetables.  Take off of the heat and place in the slow cooker pot.  Stir in the tinned tomatoes and cook on low for several hours.  The aubergines should break down and there should be no need to add any water to the curry.
  4. When you’re quite close to serving, stir through the cashew nuts (to prevent them going soft).  Serve with boiled rice and your choice of Indian accompaniments.  We had naan bread (far too much for my tummy!) and natural yoghurt (which I would have made into mint raita, had we had any mint…).

Fish on Friday

I spent most of Friday afternoon trying to work out what I was going to have for my tea, and after some recommendations from fellow LPCers, decided eventually to go for fish and chips.  But, in true recipeforprocrastination style I didn’t want to leave it to someone who actually knew what they were doing and just go down to the chippy – I wanted to do it myself.

So, here’s a ridiculously OTT recipe for my own version of fish and chips.  The chips are slightly more like roast potatoes and were cooked in the fat left over from my confit duck and were beautifully crispy and salty (thanks to the salt which was on the duck skin).  It was also nice to have the parsnip chips too – left a little surprise as to which you were about to eat.

The batter is adapted from the coating I have used on chinese Lemon Chicken (I’m sure this is a recipe which will be written up at some point!) and the herbs made the fish taste really nice and light.  You can use whichever fish you like.  I had lemon sole, which was very tasty but a bit of a pain given the number of bones.  A Man had salmon fillet, which worked very well.

Love love

Gemma xx

Home Made Fish and Chips

Battered herbed salmon, with potato and parsnip chips and steamed peas and beans 🙂

Fat for cooking (use what you’d normally use for roast potatoes)
Fish fillets
Finely chopped herbs (I used fresh thyme, sage and rosemary)
Salt and Pepper

  1. Peel the potatoes and parsnips if desired (we left them skin-on) and chop into thick wedges.  Parboil for around 5 minutes and drain.
  2. Heat the fat in a roasting tin in a very hot oven.  Once hot, add the potatoes and parsnips and shake to cover in fat.  Cook in a very hot oven – ours were in there for about an hour all-told, but htey’ll be cooked after around 20 minutes.
  3. Beat the egg with a little water in a shallow dish.  Mix the cornflour with the herbs and season in another shallow dish.
  4. Dip the fish first in egg, then cover with the cornflour mix.  Repeat.
  5. Remove the chips from the fat and drain on kitchen towel.  Replace in the oven to keep warm on a plate/clean tray.
  6. Turn the oven down to a medium-hot temperature and place the fat in the oven to reheat.
  7. Once the fat is hot, add your fish and place in the oven.  It’s difficult to say how long to cook for – it all depends on the type of fish and how thick the fillet is.  Usually you can get some information from the fishmonger (or packet!) as to the length of time needed to cook.  Turn half-way through cooking, to ensure all the batter is nice and crispy.
  8. Drain on kitchen towel and serve with peas and lots of ketchup!