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Week 12: Turkey and asparagus pie

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This weeks recipe was based on the chicken and ratatouille pie from three years ago, when I last tried to cook a new recipe every week.

The pastry was made exactly as I described but for some reason it came out fairly dry and crumbly so we put discs of it on top, like a cobbler, instead of a single sheet. It still tasted good though.

To make the filling, I finely diced one onion and a clove of garlic and fried them in butter until soft. I warmed about 200ml of milk with a pinch of nutmeg, some freshly ground pepper and a clove. I strained the milk through a sieve into the pan with the onions. I added the diced turkey and a couple of tablespoons of cream cheese. The asparagus was placed in the bottom of a pyrex dish, the turkey in white sauce was poured over the top. Finally the discs of pastry were put on top.

Turkey and asparagus pie

The pie was cooked at gas mark 5 for around 45-50 minutes until the sauce was bubbling and the topping was crispy.

Week 11: Turkey Tagine

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After a couple of weeks of cakes, it's time to return to savoury main courses, although there is still a sweet aspect to tonights recipe. We are not normally fans of meat with fruit, I have never liked the combinations of pork with apple or gammon with pineapple. The sweet fruit would always feel unbalanced next to plain meat.

A couple of years ago I had a Lamb Tagine which contained apricots and the spiciness of the sauce worked well with the fruit. I had actually eaten half of the meal before I noticed that there were pieces of fruit in it. Tonight I attempted to emulate this meal, using turkey instead of lamb. The recipe here is based on several sources, I mixed and matched ingredients to fit what we had in the kitchen. Most of the original recipes included honey but I omitted that since the fruit made the sauce sweet enough for us.

Turkey Tagine

I started off with 500g of turkey which I diced and fried in olive oil. When it was cooked, I removed the turkey from the pan and added three small onions and three cloves of garlic (all finely sliced). After cooking the onions for a few minutes, I added the dry spices (one teaspoon each of ground ginger and cinnamon, half a teaspoon each of cumin and turmeric).

I added a cupful of chicken stock and a generous pinch of saffron and gave the pan a stir, before adding about a tablespoon of lemon juice. I also added a couple of tablespoons of passata.

After a few minutes of simmering I added the apricot halves and a small handful of sultanas. The tagine was served on a bed of cous cous with some toasted flaked almonds sprinkled on top.

As I said earlier, we found it sweet enough without needing the honey. The meal was quick and easy to make, especially because cous cous cooks much faster than rice. We might omit the apricots next time.

Week 10: Pig Hottub Cake

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We went to a birthday party today and took along a cake. This one can be considered a sequel to the Spotty Dinosaur cake from last week. The bottom tier was the spotty madeira cake. The middle tier was a sponge with lemon curd filling.

Farmyard Cake

The top tier was two small chocolate sponge cakes with chocolate buttercream, Cadbury's Finger biscuits and Fudge Fingers along the edge, with a ganache topping and icing pigs lying in the 'mud'.

Pigs in a hottub

I can't take any of the credit for this cake. Emma made it all, including the decorations.

Week 9: Spotty Dinosaur Cake

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Spotty Dinosaur Cake

Spotty Dinosaur Cake

The cake was based on a madeira cake recipe. The coloured cake balls were made first, adding food colouring and baking them in a round mould designed for making 'cake pops'. The cake was assembled by pouring a layer of cake batter in the bottom of a cake tin, adding the cake balls then pouring the rest of the batter on top.

Week 8: Cottage Pie with Sweet Potato Mash

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I can't believe that I have been cooking as long as I have and can't remember ever making a Cottage Pie before. It is a fairly classic British recipe and was traditionally a way of using up leftover meat from a roast dinner. These days it is commonly made using mince, and that's what we did.

The filling contained turkey mince along with various vegetables including onions, leeks, garlic, red pepper, courgette, tomatoes and beans.

Cottage Pie with Sweet Potato Mash

The topping was mashed sweet potato. When it was assembled, I baked it in the oven until the filling had started to bubble, which didn't take too long because everything was still quite hot when it went into the oven.

Week 7: Banana Bread

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I bought a large bag of slightly bruised bananas from the supermarket on my way home, for only 25p. I had already decided that I wanted to try a banana bread and was just waiting until I got hold of some cheap bananas.

Banana Bread

Week 6: Yoghurt spiced chicken

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In the past we have cooked chicken in quite a lot of different ways and used yoghurt in recipes but I don't think I have actually cooked chicken in yoghurt. This recipe came about because I was trying to think of something to do this week and we had chicken breast and vegetables in the fridge so I looked up recipes. What I did was based on a number of different recipes, all of them had a similar mix of spices.

I didn't measure the quantities very accurately but I put about half a teaspoon of each of the following into a pyrex dish:

ginger, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, salt, chilli flakes, paprika and turmeric.

I added a few tablespoons of yoghurt and mixed everything together then tossed in some sliced chicken breast. This was put in the oven (gas mark 5) for about half an hour.

Yoghurt spiced chicken

The vegetables (a mixture of onion, pepper, leek, courgette, garlic) were diced and fried, along with half a teaspoon each of curry powder and garam masala. Half of the veg were blitzed in a food processor to make a sauce, similar to my usual curry sauce. I added a tin of chick peas.

The chicken was very tender and the spices were quite well balanced. Overall the meal was a success but the pyrex dish was a pain to wash afterwards.

Week 5: Kreplach

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I found these recipes while looking for something to do with the meat from a roast chicken. Kreplach appear to be a Jewish ravioli but folded into a triangle instead of made from two squares of pasta pressed together. I prepared the dough and filling yesterday to save time.

The dough was made by mixing together two cups of flour, a pinch of salt, two eggs, a quarter of a cup of oil and a couple of tablespoons of water (just enough water to bring everything together without making the dough too wet).

To make the filling, I minced two small onions and a clove of garlic and fried them in some oil before leaving them to cool. I shredded the chicken and mixed in the onion and garlic.

Assembling the kreplach

When I got home from work I started to assemble the Kreplach. I cut off a quarter of the dough and rolled it as thinly as possible. I cut out squares and put a spoonful of the meat in the middle of each. I folded one corner over to make a small pasty-shaped dumpling.

Kreplach in red pepper sauce

In the meantime I made a sauce out of red peppers, leeks and passata, with a small amount of chilli and parsley added for extra flavour. I simmered the kreplach for around 15-20 minutes.

Serving Suggestion

Week 4: Saag Aloo with Prawn and Butternut Squash Curry

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The recipes this week came about because we had an assortment of vegetables which needed using up: a bag of potatoes we bought which were at their sell-by date, a butternut squash we bought last week but hadn't used yet, some frozen spinach from last year which we keep forgetting to use.

The Saag Aloo contained onion, potatoes, and spinach and was spiced with garlic, ginger, chilli, mustard, cumin and turmeric.

The Prawn and Squash curry was spiced with cumin, chilli, turmeric, ground coriander and curry powder. We had a pot of plain yoghurt open in the fridge so I used that instead of the double cream in the original recipe.

Saag Aloo and Butternut squash curry

I served the curry with a mixture of plain and wild rice.

Week 2 revisited: Cod with cheesy breadcrumb topping

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I cooked a variation on the fish with breadcrumb topping from week 2. This time the topping was grated pecorino cheese and breadcrumbs. It was cooked for 20 minutes at gas mark 6 again, but this time I served it with home made potato wedges and samphire (which was boiled then tossed in melted butter and a sprinkle of black pepper).

Week 3 revisited: Cheese and onion dip

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I had another go at making a tofu based dip, this time cheese and onion flavoured. The first thing I did was put some cheese in the food processor and blitz until it was broken down breadcrumb sized pieces. I used a mixture of pecorino and strong mature cheddar.

Next I cooked a couple of small onions and 2 garlic cloves and added them to the food processor, along with a block of tofu. I blitzed it until everything mixed together to a smooth paste. I added a couple of grinds of black pepper and a dash of vinegar, since the original River Cottage recipe had vinegar in it too.

The dip needed more cheese and onion adding than I expected but the end result was ok.

Week 3: Two Dips

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I made two different dips for lunch, based on recipes from the River Cottage book. The first was a tofu dip. I followed the recipe in the River Cottage book but decided to only make half the quantities (since I've yet to come across a tofu recipe which I really like).

I put half a block of tofu in the food processor and added generous pinch of powdered ginger, a dash of soy, a larger dash of rice wine vinegar and half a garlic clove. I blitzed it all together and tasted it for seasoning. It was a little bland so I added more ginger and a few shakes of cayenne pepper. The original recipe claims that the dip will have a texture similar to mayonnaise and they weren't wrong. It would probably make a good mayo substitute for sandwiches.

I thought the flavour of the dip could do with a bit more work. Tofu might be a good addition to a home made hummus. It might help mix the chick peas and sesame to a smooth paste, to save having to add too much oil.

The next recipe was a courgette and goat's cheese dip. I took 1½ courgettes and sliced them thinly and fried them, along with a couple of cloves of garlic, in a little oil and butter. I put everything in the food processor, added a pinch of salt and 50g of goat's cheese, then blitzed everything to a paste. This dip was by far the better of the two and definitely needs making again in the future.

Week 2: Cod with panch phoran topping

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This meal was a combination of two different fish recipes. The original inspiration came from a booklet from the British Heart Foundation which I found myself reading at lunchtime on Friday. This recipe was for sea bass with panch phoran (which is an Indian spice mix - the name literally means '5 spices' but the mix is very different to the more common chinese 5-spice).

I didn't have any panch phoran but was fortunate to have all the individual spices in the kitchen. I started by putting equal amounts of Cumin,Fennel,Black Onion, Fenugreek and Yellow Mustard seeds into a pestle and mortar and started to crush them. I added a pinch of coarse sea salt to help crush the seeds.

The breadcrumb topping was based on a recipe from the BBC website. Their original recipe used herbs and garlic as seasoning but I simply used the spice mix instead.

Cod with breadcrumb topping

To make the breadcrumb topping, I took 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs, added ½ a teaspoon of each of:

  • the spice mix,
  • chilli flakes
  • turmeric

along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and mixed everything together before spreading it over the fish. I baked it in the oven at gas mark 6 for around 15-20 minutes.

Cod with spicy breadcrumb topping

Now I think this is the first time I've ever made a breadcrumb topping for fish and it surprised me by how quick it was to make. The spice mix went well with the fish.

Week 1: Sourdough white loaf

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This is the start of my second go at cooking something new every week for a year. A lot of the recipes this year will come from the various books I received for Christmas and this first one is no exception. This was the first recipe in a booklet on Sourdough baking and I selected it because it looked reasonably straightforward.

Sourdough loaf

The only slight issue was that the booklet was published in the USA and all measurements were in cups and tea- or tablespoons. I neglected to calculate how much 6 cups of flour would be and ended up with nearly 2kg of dough which was a bit difficult to knead. I ended up splitting the dough in two and made a large loaf with one half and a smaller loaf and some breadsticks with the other half.

Sourdough loaf

The main difference between this loaf and others I've made is that the dough is mixed then left to stand for around 20 minutes before kneading, and that halfway through the rising I actually remembered to knock it back and let it rise again.

The texture of this loaf is the closest to a bought loaf of any of my sourdough attempts. I think the booklet has proved its worth already but I'll be trying more recipes from it in the near future. Although I will be checking the quantities to make sure I don't end up with ridiculous amounts of bread.

Summary of 2010

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So 2010 has ended and my resolution of cooking a new recipe every week was mostly a success. There were 2 weeks when I didn't manage any proper new meals, but week week 35 featured a new sandwich, week 16 was a haggis omelette, and week 8 had home-made chilli sauce.

There were several weeks where I made more than one new meal in a week. Some of these were recorded here. One which I neglected to mention was Pfeffernusse. I have been meaning to try these for ages and finally got around to making them in the summer. My spice mixture was slightly different, and I think I added too much pepper, but the end result was ok. They came out more like cookies but since I like cookies, that wasn't a problem.

This year, I will continue to try new recipes and blog about them, but it might not be as regular.