COOK - BAKE - LEARN - SMILE

CookBakeSmile Recipe Blog


About this Blog

I have three passions in life; cooking, skydiving and travel - yes I know a very eclectic mix! However, the two things they all have in common is a passion to push my boundaries and having great fun!

I love to improve and learn something new each and every time I participate.

I have been very fortunate to travel extensively, mainly thanks to my family and extended living all over the world. When I travel for any period of time, I try and book in a local cooking course - to enhance my knowledge, especially for new ingredients and techniques.

As you will notice from the number of recipe categories, I really love to experiment with food from all over the world. Normally, I prefer to recreate dishes as authentically as possible with regards to technique and ingredients. However, once in the while I love to challenge myself to create a fusion dish that encompasses and enhances both origins.

I broke my spine (non skydiving) in several places September, 2012 and took 18+ months to recover. During that time, beyond getting friendly with the cracks on the ceiling, I longed to get back in the kitchen. (Ok, I admit, also back in the air). This is what has inspired me to offer tuition, and to provide a recipe blog. Longer-term I would love to get into recipe journalism, take some food photography courses and develop a full blown cookery school.

This blog represents the latest happenings in CookBake
Smile’s kitchen.

I hope the recipes inspire you, and you enjoy eating them as much as I do.

If you live in the West London area, and are looking for culinary tuition, please
get in touch.

Please comment, add your suggestions, critique or just pop in and say hello!

Comments can be added by Facebook or twitter.


“CookBakeSmile


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Super Quick Chicken Bake


This meal was a store cupboard inspiration. It is cheap to make if you stick to using up leftovers!

I had a load of bits and bobs in the fridge, including half a roast chicken.

I had very little desire to cook, and the condensed soup was surprisingly tasty.

A great little recipe for when you need to be doing other things!

Quick Chicken Bake : Last One

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Herby Chicken Bites


A sure fire week-day favourite. They only take 10 minutes to prepare, and then cook once marinaded.

These herby chicken bites combine a delicious Italian freshness with crispy succulent chicken.

I served these as standalone nibbles, but they would be equally good for a main meal.

Herby Chicken Bites : Close Up

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Mince Meat and Mince Pies


Finally, it is this time of year again.

I adore Christmas time, the chance to eat a little more than usual and indulge with friends and family.

I love to make my own mincemeat and mince pies - frankly there is not a shop bought recipe that comes close.

The mincemeat is aromatic and stuffed full of plump fruit. The pastry is so short that it only just holds the mince meat in the case.

My recipe is based around Delia’s - the same recipe that I grew up with as a boy. Over the years I have upped the booze and spice to suit my tastes.

I often add other seasonal favourites such as dried cranberries and walnuts to my mincemeat.

Mince Pies : Close Up

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Lancashire Hotpot


Following on with my theme of autumnal dishes and making meals for during the week, I decided it was high time to make a Lancashire Hotpot.

The beauty of this dish, is that there is no cooking. Just add all the ingredients to a large casserole dish and throw it in the oven.

The lamb is wonderfully tender and melt in the mouth with the stock turning into a delicious thick gravy.

I ate this again on Tuesday night and it was 100 times better - the flavours had deepened and the potato had taken on a delicious
Dauphinoise consistency.

Lancashire Hotpot : And Another

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Chinese Stir Fried Pork with Oyster Sauce


I was looking for a quick and easy mid week meal.

I found the pork chops in the freezer, so I defrosted those. To save time, I used a packet of stir fry vegetables I had picked up from the local supermarket on my way home.

Originally I had planned on using fresh ginger and honey, but having no ginger, I found a bottle of oyster sauce and went with that instead!

The sauce wonderfully coats the vegetables and pork. The sauce is sweet and tangy with a gentle chilli hit at the end.

This took no longer than 15 minutes to prepare and cook! Well under the time it took for the rice to steam!

Chinese Stir Fried Pork with Oyster sauce : Another

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Toad in the Hole


One of my all time favourite comfort foods. Ideal for this autumnal weather.

Toad in the hole is a British classic, using good quality sausages served in a Yorkshire pudding batter.

I keep this 100% traditional, serving with a delicious home made onion gravy and green peas.

There is nothing complex to this recipe. The gravy, sausages and batter can be prepared earlier, meaning that you only need to get the lard up to temperature when ready to cook.

Toad in the Hole : Last one

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Beef and Ale Stew



With the dreary weather in the UK seemingly here forever, there was only one dish on my mind to cook last Sunday. Beef and Ale Stew!

I like to use beef shin, as it is a cheap and flavoursome cut that is particularly well suited to stews.

Stew is extremely easy to make with very little effort - only requiring one large pot. I like to cook all the ingredients separately in order to provide extra textures and enhance the flavours.

Beef and Ale stew is a fantastic winter warmer. The shin after the cooking process melts in the mouth whilst still holding its shape. I cook the bones and bone marrow in the same way I cook the shin. The marrow melts into the stew adding delicious flavour and helps to thicken the liquor.

I add Pancetta to my stew to add a subtle smokiness and background saltiness.

Feel free to add other vegetables to the stew recipe, such as swede, parsnip and potatoes. Personally I like to keep it pretty traditional with shallots, carrots and mushrooms.

The beauty of this dish is that it is impossible to make a small amount so there are always left overs for another meal. It also freezes extremely well and is great to pull out when you cannot face cooking!

The flavour of the stew only gets better a couple of days later! We got 4 servings out of the stew, before using up the remainder in a divine beef and ale pie! Nom nom nom!

Beef and Ale Stew : Close Up

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Breaded Fish and Chips


Is there anything more traditional than fish on a Friday?

Not being a big fan of deep fried food, I opted to bread the fish fillets and cook in the oven.

The fish comes out beautifully flaky, with the crispy breaded exterior forming a seal around the fish and keeping it very moist.

I served the fish with buttered and minted peas along with some oven roasted chips.

A British favourite, and for a good reason - you simply cannot beat fish and chips!

Breaded Fish and Chips : Close Up

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Crispy Chicken Goujons with Spicy Salsa


This is one of these mid week meals which takes moments to prepare, but rewards with delicious crispy chicken and tangy salsa flavours.

I wanted to keep this healthy so I oven roasted the chicken goujons instead of the usual deep fried affair. This keeps the dish much lighter but the chicken remains mouth wateringly tender and crispy.

I made a salsa as I wanted to use up the evenings harvest of heritage tomatoes and Numex Twilight and Birdseye chillies. The salsa and plain rice turned the dish from finger food into a full meal.

This was a household hit and I will definitely be making this again.

When coating chicken or any other meat in breadcrumbs I find it best to use one hand for the egg and the other hand for the dry bowls. I do each piece one at a time so that every last bit has a generous and even coating.

Roast Chicken Crispy Goujons : Last One

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Spaghetti Bolognese


I was fortunate enough to travel to Australia and China last week for a family wedding - hence the lack of updates. Unfortunately, I do not have much vacation available at work, so in total I was in Oz for 6 nights!

Being very jet lagged last night, all I craved for was a hearty and comforting meal. Spaghetti Bolognese hit the spot!

I am one of those people who never knows what they wish to eat, regardless of jet lag, until that evening! It drives my wife crazy!!!

A quick zombie style trip to the butchers and deli to restock the fridge and I was set to go.

I unfortunately had run out of tomato puree, so substituted with ketchup at the end of the cooking. It worked well, intensifying flavour, but my preference would always be with the concentrate.

I have become extremely fond of
Faella pasta - it has a much better flavour than the supermarket equivalent. Most certainly worth the extra 50 pence.

Everybody has their own version and preferences for there Bolognese. My preference would be without mushrooms, but I must go with the mood of the house! I find the sauté vegetables add flavour and the Pancetta adds a cheeky saltiness.

Bolognese always tastes better the next day, so in order to try to get that depth of flavour, I simmer on a very low heat for a much longer period of time.

Spaghetti Bolognese : mandatory opera house shots

Mandatory opera house shots

Spaghetti Bolognese : Last One“></a></span><span style=

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7 Pot Keema


I was looking for a way to use one of my rather ferocious
7 Pot Doughla chillies (2nd hottest in the world). After my last attempt with the Naga Chili Chicken, I was quite nervous!. These bright red devils are a delicious fruity chilli and really add a fanatic flavour to the finished dish. However, they are outrageously hot, punching in at 1.2 million scoville. This recipe will be equally good with Scotch Bonnets instead.

The recipe was also an attempt to clear out some of my old spices and the plethora of tomatoes from the garden.

It is a very simple recipe, making a tasty curry sauce base and then adding caramelised lamb mince in to enfuse with the spices and chilli flavours.

The finished dish was lip smackingly delicious, definitely on the hot side although a builder as opposed to a full front assault, but the petit poit and fragrant spice background keep everything under control and very moreish!

I served the dish with sticky Basmati rice, some naan bread and Greek yoghurt. It really is a great mouthful!

7 Pot Keema : Close up

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Rib of Beef


Whilst digging through my photos, I found this delicious Rib of Beef with Yorkshire Puddings and Roast Potatoes.

I made this the weekend before my Australia and China trip. Unfortunately I do not have every photo, but it is a fantastically simple dish to make. Again, I use a meat thermometer to ensure that I get the perfect medium rare temperature.

The rib was delicious, with a crusty salty outside with melt in the mouth medium rare inside. Accompanied with buttered seasonal vegetables, crunchy roast potatoes and light and fluffy puds, there is no better Sunday dinner.

Normally, I would make gravy, but in this instance I settled with horseradish sauce.

Rib of Beef : Serve with horseradish

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Chicken Broccoli and Cashew Nut Stir Fry


This is a great Monday night meal, 15 minutes of prep and 10 minutes cooking.

By the time that the Thai Jasmine rice is ready, the chicken and cashew nut stir fry is practically ready to be served.

I like my stir fries chilli hot so added some Numex Twilight and Little Elf chilli varieties from the garden. These chillies have a bit more heat and flavour compared to your supermarket bought Birdseye chillies.

I bought the chicken breasts on the bone, which is significantly cheaper than buying prepared breasts. It only takes a moment to cut the breast bone off and to remove the skin!

Dry roasting the cashew nuts really brings out their flavour and helps to release their natural oils.

The sauce is simple, again using the Sweet soy sauce that I am ever so fond of.

I would have preferred to have used Thai Basil instead of normal basil, but with the onset of autumn, I no longer have a ready supply from the garden.

Chicken Cashew Nut and broccoli Stir Fry : Last shot

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Sizzling Beef Teriyaki


Now this dish is a household favourite both with the diners and with the cook. It takes minutes to make, and served with sticky basmati rice makes a very pleasing and tasty dinner.

I had the leftover rib of beef from Sunday (oh my I sound like Nigel Slater!), so I used that in substitute for a raw meat cut. Frankly, I am glad I did, the flavour from the beef was divine.

The vegetables were what I had left in the fridge, and can be easily substituted for other variants.

I like my Teriyaki quite hot, and with not cooking the chillies off in the oil at the beginning, you will need quite a few to make a punch.

I do not like MSG in my Chinese meals as a rule, so there is no cornflour used here.

The Soy Sauce I use in dishes like these is a sweet soy from Healthy Boy Brand - and is just right to complement the tang from the Teriyaki.

Sizzling Beef Teriyaki : Close Up Two

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Chicken Provencale


Following on with my autumnal and comforting meal theme, I decided it was time to cook Chicken Provençal.

I have very fond memories of this dish, with my mother making this for myself and my three brothers.

The roasted peppers, capers and black olives give a distinct Mediterranean vibe.

This meal really does not take long to prepare - and once done can be left in the oven on a low heat should you wish to serve this after a nice long walk!

Roasting the peppers really helps to intensify their flavour, as well as remove the skin from the final dish. The same can be done with the tomatoes - but frankly life is too short on a week night.

Chicken Provencale : Last one

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Chicken and Mushroom Pie


Chicken and Mushroom Pie has to be one of the all time great comfort foods.

Here in London, it is cold damp and windy. Not pleasant at all - especially with it being dark going and returning from work.

This is where comfort food excels and one reason why I love the Autumn/Winter seasons. Out with the salads and in with the hearty stews, pies and puss! The kitchen comes alive with mouth watering smells.

My Chicken Pie, is a little bit of a faff, what with cooking the ingredients separately, however, it is well worth the effort. I like my pie to come complete with the vegetables, so I parboil the broccoli, add sweetcorn and delicious butter fried golden chestnut mushrooms. The leeks, shallot and garlic add a lovely depth. The tarragon and white wine give subtle complexity to the filling.

I reckon this pie takes a good 60 minutes of preparation, so generally better for a weekend.

Saying that, I made this on a Tuesday night for my sister-in-law. I confess I was sweating by the end of it, but got it in the oven in under half an hour! Happy

This tastes even better for left overs. I personally like to serve this with homemade piccalilli.

Chicken and Mushroom Pie : And another

Chicken and Mushroom Pie : Delicious chicken mushroom pie

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Herb Crust Rack of Lamb


It may be miserable and autumnal outside, but there is something comforting about having a spring dish for dinner.

The combination of the cheesy aubergine and delicious crusty lamb followed by a blast of mouth watering and delicious salsa verde is amazing.

I like my lamb a nice medium rare, but adjust the cooking times accordingly.

I served this dish to guests, half a rack per person.

I also served a bowl of steamed new potatoes, sprinkled with mint, along with the remaining salsa verde and a quick mint sauce.

Herb crusted rack of lamb : Close up


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Salsa Verde with Tomato


Salsa Verde as the name suggests stands for green sauce. The Italian version is traditionally served cold and includes parsley, vinegar, capers and garlic.

I always chop this sauce by hand as I like the rustic coarseness that is achieved, as opposed to blitzing it in a food processor.

The sauce is so versatile, being suitable for fish and meat.

It is zesty and zingy and works fantastically well with the
Herb Crust Lamb.

Salsa Verde : Stir well

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Smoked Mackerel Salad with Horseradish Yoghurt Dressing


I was going through my phone when I came across this recipe from the summer.

If I recall correctly, I served the smoked mackerel salad during my house move - as it required little preparation.

The fishmonger recommended the hot smoked mackerel, saying it would make a great change - he sure was right!

The mustardy radishes compliment the smoked fish and hot horseradish giving a big mouthful of flavour!!

I whole heartedly recommend trying this recipe.

Smoked Mackerel Salad with Horseradish Yoghurt : Finished

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Red Thai Prawn Curry


This is my version of this classic dish.

Hot, sour, sweet and citrus - a totally delicious flavour combination.

The sweet coconut Jasmine rice works brilliantly with the zingy spicy prawns.

I like to scatter over some spicy peanuts to add texture and an additional kick of heat.

A delicious week night or weekend meal, that tastes delicious and can be cooked in no time.

Red Thai Prawn Curry : Another Close Up

Red Thai Prawn Curry : Another Close Up

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Classic Beef Wellington


I was asked to make the main course at a family gathering for 10.

What to cook? What to cook?

I decided it had to be a bit of a show stopper - but without insane effort - after all this was a gathering and I did not want to be isolated in the kitchen.

Beef Wellington is not a recipe to rush however and I would set aside a good 3-4 hours to do the dish justice.

The bulk of the effort is making the Duxelle filling. Once made, it is just the case of rolling up the fillet of beef and cooking it in the oven. Traditionally, Beef Wellington has crepes between the pastry and the meat. However, I find this makes the dish stodgy and instead prefer to use a layer of fresh spinach leaves.

Cooking for 10, I was privileged to be given a whole fillet of beef. I was planning on cooking the whole fillet as one - but realised quickly that it would not fit in the oven!

I have to say I was nervous that I would over cook the beef and ruin it. However, I should not have feared - my trusty meat thermometer came to the rescue and enabled me to get the meat perfect.

I strongly advise that you use a thermometer as you cannot touch the beef to determine if it is done.

“Beef

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Thai Basil Fried Pork


This dish is a firm family favourite - both with the chef and the diners!

It is both quick to make and tastes delicious.

It has all the classic Thai attributes, fragrant, sweet, spicy and salty.

The Thai basil provides the perfect back drop with its delicious aniseed flavour.

This recipe would work equally well with chicken.

I like to serve mine garnished with Spicy hot peanuts. (This is less traditional, as the Thai’s generally do not cook with peanuts anymore, due to them being difficult to keep in a hot environment, and linked to disease coming from a fungus).

Otherwise this would traditionally be served with a fried egg placed on top, similar to Nasi Goreng.

Thai Basil Fried Pork : Close Up

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Naga Chilli Chicken : Not for the faint hearted


I was challenged to come up with a seriously chilli hot recipe for the Dropzone.

Being a chilli-head, this was not something to be shied away from!

A quick peek on the internet and I got myself a bag of Naga Ghost Chillies. These chillies should come with a health and safety warning as they are off the scale in terms of heat. (1.4 million Scoville, where as a scotch bonnet is 400,000 Scoville).

Believe it or not, I thought I would add some herbs and seasoning to make the kebabs as delicious and tasty as possible.

Frankly, after the first 3 seconds, which I have to say were flavoursome and fruity, the rest became a blur. The heat was mind numbing causing waterfalls of sweat to explode from every part of my body.

I did finish a kebab, but I really would not recommend this recipe, at this chilli heat.

I will make it again, but will use 1/3 of a naga chilli. I will post back with the more palatable results!

Naga Chilli Chicken Kebabs : Naga Chillies

Naga Chilli Chicken Kebabs : Naga Chilli Chicken Kebabs Served

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Crispy Thai Chicken


I came home from work, and had a hankering for something crispy and spicy. I looked in the fridge, and found a pre-made salad, some chicken bits and Red Thai Curry Paste. (Although I would prefer to make my own - sometimes there simply is not the time, nor do I have the ingredients). As such adaptability is the key!!)

I could not think what to make, so I ended up combing up with the Crispy Thai Chicken.

Generally, I try to avoid deep frying food, mainly as I prefer to oven cook it and keep the dish healthier. However, batter is batter - and no amount of oven cooking is going to develop the crispy crunchy texture I so wanted.

This is a very easy recipe - taking no longer than 10 minutes to prepare.

I have to say the result was fantastic - a lovely Thai spice, with mouth watering fresh citrus undertones and delicious crispy chicken.

The salad was served dressed with Thai dipping sauce and a little olive oil and worked brilliantly.

I highly recommend giving this a go!!!


Crispy Thai Chicken : Close Up

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Spicy Meatballs with Herby Ragu


Having come home quite late from work, I had to knock up a quick and easy dinner. (Work seriously gets in the way of hanging out in the kitchen!)

You know when you have one of those days, and not just any food will do. It has to be comfort food - is there anything more comforting than Spicy Meatballs?

These meatballs pack a punch of flavour and chilli heat. The herby ragu is the perfect compliment.

I skipped adding tomato puree - as I did not want to wait for it to cook through. By all means add the puree and turbo charge the tomato flavour!

I am very pleased to finally have enough herbs and chillies growing in the new house’s garden.

I had the rest for lunch the next day, and it was totally delicious!

Spicy Meatballs with Herby Ragu : Another shot

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Chipotle Chilli Chicken


Having finally unpacked the last boxes, after the epic house move, I was delighted to be finally back in the kitchen. For the record I have no intention of moving for at least another 10 years, and will most certainly not offer to wrap and box the contents of the house ever again.

CookBakeSmile on the Move”></a></span><span style=

As a result of the house move, I am now the proud owner of a gas fired BBQ.

Generally, I am a fan of all things charcoal when it comes to BBQ’ing, however, I have been swayed over the years from my sisters-in-law in New Zealand and Oz that quick al fresco cooking is worthwhile.

So, last night I wanted to create something with Chipotle chilli. I have become totally addicted to the smokey flavour and slight punch these chillies give. Combined with the lime juice and cumin I wanted to achieve a real Mexicana feel.

The kebabs were fantastic, moist and succulent but savoury and fresh with a delicate smokey taste followed by a tingling on the lips as the chilli mades itself known!

Totally delicious, and tasting even better for being eaten outside!

Chipotle Chilli Chicken : Wrap Close Up

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How to Butcher a Chicken


A brief picture guide and tutorial in how I butcher a whole chicken.

Buying a while chicken is significantly cheaper than buying just single cuts. It also ensures that you purchase the best welfare chicken that you can source.

The other reward from a whole chicken is that you can make a decent and cheap chicken stock from the carcass.

How to Butcher a Chicken : Whole Chicken

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Chicken Yakitori


I am always making kebabs. I think the thing that most appeals is the simplicity and speed of cooking coupled with a never ending variation of flavours. For a weekday meal kebabs are perfect, as the preparation is rarely more than 10 minutes, and then you can walk away and get on with something else until ready to cook.

These kebabs are Japenese inspired Yakitori. The sweet sticky marinade keeps the chicken moist and delicious. The Asian Slaw served along side works fantastically well - with a real lift provided by the toasted sesame seeds.

The recipe would work very well cooked quickly on a BBQ.

The were extras left, so they made a delicious packed lunch the following day!

Chicken Yakitori : Another Close Up


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Asian Slaw


Tangy Asian inspired slaw to go with the
Chicken Yakitori.

Asian Slaw : Close Up


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Chicken Thai Green Curry


Hot chilli with a zingy tangy kick - that is how I like my Thai Green Curry.

I prefer to avoid the Western route of throwing lime juice into the curry, and prefer to get that citrus punch from the lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves.

Although not essential, without the Thai Basil, I think the essence of this dish is lost. It really needs that subtle aniseed flavour which is not achieved with the dry equivalent. Thank you Waitrose for stocking it!

I always cut my chicken into large chunks and essentially steam / poach it in the sauce on a low heat. I prefer it this way, as it keeps it moist and tender.

Way better than my local restaurants, and vastly superior to any shop bought paste or curry.

Thai Green Curry : Thai Green Curry


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Thai Green Curry Paste


This recipe comes straight from my cooking notes from Thailand.

Fortunately these days I can purchase everything required to make an authentic tasting dish.

I admit the chillies are wrong - and our shallots do not have the sweetness of the Thai varieties.

This paste lasts yonks - store in an air tight jar, and cover with a little olive oil.

The roasted spices and fresh flavours mean this curry paste is head and shoulders above any shop bought alternative.

Traditionally you would make this with a mortar and pestle - but I prefer to add a little coconut milk and blitz with a hand blender.

Originally served as a
Chicken Thai Green Curry.

Thai Green Curry Paste : Fry when Ready


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Sizzling Beef Fajitas


I love eating Beef Fajitas. Whats not to love - sizzling beef with a good chilli kick!

They are quick and easy to make, and really show case a good quality, cheap cut of beef.

I like to use the griddle pan for this recipe, as it can get extremely hot, and replicates the chargrill of a barbecue.

I like to eat my fajitas with
Pico de Gallo, Guacamole, homemade flatbread topped with Manchego cheese and a little sour cream.

The marinade works just as well with pork and chicken.

Beef Fajitas : Close Up


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Pico de Gallo


Pico De Gallo is the traditional salad accompaniment served with Beef Fajitas.

The sweet and sharp tanginess of the salad works so well with the homemade Guacamole, sour cream and Beef Faijitas. I love to eat these in homemade
flatbread.

Super simple, but extremely tasty.

Pico de Gallo : Close Up


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Sweet and Spicy Prawns


It is great to have a couple of super quick recipes in your culinary arsenal.

This is one of my favourite - a chilli hot and sweet spicy tomato sauce, served on a bed of rice and topped with delicious marinaded tiger prawns. For this recipe, I used frozen raw prawns, meaning that the whole meal for two came in at less than £5.

The sugar in the sauce emphasises the tomato and brings out the natural sweetness of the prawns.

This sauce works equally well with chicken, but will take a little longer to cook than the prawns.

Definitely a mid week life saver recipe!

Sweet and Spicy Prawns : Close Up 2


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Macaroon Loaf


I was playing around in the kitchen yesterday afternoon, as the weather was rubbish - and I have ample time now that I am not copying and pasting 8 hours a day - trying to rebuild the website! Sad

I wanted to create a light sponge that had the sticky chewy texture of a macaroon.

I cooked the cake on a slightly higher heat than normal, so that the edges become chewy and delicious!

The cake really does take fantastic. You may omit the lemon sugar crust - but it definitely helps to liven up and round out the taste.

It amazes me how playing around with a sponge batter can create so many wonderful variations.

Cherry Coconut Loaf : Cross Section

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Clam Linguine


Phew! It is great to be back and to be able to update the website again. Alas, my web solution could not handle the photo content adequately, so I have had to upload and rewrite the entire recipe blog to Flickr. I hope moving forward this a robust and scalable solution - as it has taken me 8 days to relink 1300 photos!

So, I am going in time order, catching up with recipes. To kick off the new and improved blog, a delicious Clam Linguine.

This is one of the ultimate quick and easy meals. The entire dish is cooked in less time that it takes for the Linguine to be ready.

The delicious ozone sea smells and taste combined with a subtle chilli kick, make this one of my all time favourite dished.

Although it should not be necessary to de-grit the clams - the bag that I purchased had obviously not been properly cleaned, as the water went cloudy within 10 minutes of the clams being added. If this happens, keep replacing the salted water with a fresh batch.

Clam Vongole : Close Up


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Beef Carpaccio


We were having a little celebration, (hence the Roederer Champagne) at home and wanted a simple but impressive starter.

Beef carpaccio barely registers as cooking, but tastes oh so divine. I love the contrasting flavours and textures of the ultra thin bashed fillet steak just slightly cooked by the lime juice and topped with salty parmesan and peppery rocket leaves.

I asked the butcher to prepare the fillets for me, saving me the bulk of work!

Enjoy with a decent crusty loaf or home made bread.

Beef Carpaccio : Celebrations



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Chicken Shish Taouk


Chicken Shish Taouk was one of the few dishes I would order from a takeaway.

Alas, Elias our local Lebanese shut down, and so I was forced to try and recreate the dish at home.

I love the moist chicken combined with the garlic humus. The yoghurt helps to protect the chicken and keep it succulent.

The key is to keep basting the kebabs as much as possible.

If they are looking dry - place them in a large pot and cover for 6-10 minutes - to allow the steam to moisten them up.

This is delicious as a wrap with Greek Salad and humus.

Even better on a charcoal barbecue!

Chicken Taouk : Taouk CloseUp” width=

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Humus


Humus is a great side dish for BBQs, buffets or just served on its own with some delicious homemade flatbread.

This is a very quick recipe, dispensing with the need to soak chickpeas 24 hours before you want to eat them. Occasionally, I have been known to be sufficiently organised to plan ahead and get the preparation done. However, it is rare, so I fallback on cooked, canned chickpeas.

I think this recipe tastes pretty damn good - definitely better than the bland supermarket versions. (I concede that there are some fabulous delicatessen variations of humus about these days that are extremely good.)

The humus was originally served with Chicken Shish Taouk. The garlicky humus worked beautifully with the zingy moist coated chicken.

Humus : Close Up”><br /></a></span><span style=

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