Date Night

We’re nearly at the end of Ramadan and while I have been trying to step outside my comfort zone in terms of cooking, the reality is that I’ve just been far too tired to do anything that requires any kind of effort. But, date night with the best friend is always the exception. On the menu for the night was: creamy coriander mash, potato wedges, chicken steak, salad, and creamy peppercorn sauce.

Creamy Coriander Mash

Ingredients:

  • 55g instant mashed potato
  • 250ml boiling water
  • Handful of coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp butter

Method:

  1. Combine all the ingredients until the mashed potato is of a creamy consistency – add a bit of milk or cream if you want a richer flavour.

Potato Wedges

Ingredients:

  • 3 potatoes, washed and cut into 8 wedges each
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method:

  1. In a deep pan of boiling water, add salt and potato wedges and boil for five minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  3. Drain in a colander and place on a baking tray – I add some greaseproof paper to the bottom of my tray to avoid any sticking!
  4. Coat with oil, salt, and pepper (and any other spices if you want flavoured wedges) and cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden and crispy.

Chicken Steak

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken fillets, pounded lightly to flatten
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp tandoori masala
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

Method:

  1. Marinate the steaks and leave for a minimum of 2 hours.
  2. Heat a griddle pan on a high flame and when sizzling hot, place the steaks on the pan for 5-10 minutes on each side and serve hot.

Creamy Peppercorn Sauce

Ingredients: 

  • 75ml Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tsp crushed peppercorns
  • 100ml single cream

Method:

  1. Heat the Worcestershire sauce over a medium to high heat and slowly add in the cream.
  2. Stir continuously and add the crushed peppercorns – leave for a few minutes to thicken before serving.

The recipe for my staple salad can be found here.

Wining and dining aside, I have realised the hard way that the time I spend with the loves of my life is far more important than anything else. No matter how many things I’m feeling or going through, they keep me grounded and remind me daily that family is not at all exclusive to blood relations. I hope that you all have people in your life who love you (and your cooking!) unconditionally.

Spiced Lamb Burgers

Okay so Ramadan is really putting a dampener on my cooking spirit, but I am definitely trying to power on with trying new things and/or reinventing the old. We don’t really eat outside foods during the month (idk why tbh, I’d love to not have to cook for at least one day of the week), so we try and make them ourselves to satisfy those junk cravings – earlier this week, it was lamb burgers!

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 4cm/1½ in piece fresh ginger
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 20g/¾oz fresh coriander, stalks and leaves
  • 2-3 green chillies, chopped or ½-1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 450g/1lb lamb mince
  • ¾ tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 2 slices thick-cut white bread, processed to crumbs in a food processor
  • 2 tbsp oil, for greasing

Method:

  1. For the burgers, using a hand blender, roughly chop the onion, ginger, garlic, coriander and green chillies by pulsing, or chop them all by hand. Place into a bowl with the lamb mince, add the cumin, garam masala, salt, egg and breadcrumbs and mix well.
  2. Shape into six burgers and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes, or until you are ready to cook them. Take them out of the fridge 30 minutes before you start cooking.
  3. On the George Foreman grill: oil and preheat the grill and cook the burgers well on both sides.
  4. While the burgers are cooking, heat the buns in the oven for the last 3-4 minutes of the cooking time.
  5. To serve, split the buns in two. Place a burger onto one half of each bun on a bed of lettuce and top with items of your choice – we went for cheese slices, tomato slices, sauces, and coleslaw.

Let me know how you get on with making them yourself!

Lentil Bolognese

I think this is one of those things I made during veganuary and just forgot to update my blog with the recipe for it. Either way, this was one of the nicest things to make because the recipe has so much scope for substitutions in terms of core ingredients and that’s always nice because let’s be honest, not everyone eats the exact same thing all the time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 carrots, finely shredded
  • Pinch sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 jar of tomato sauce
  • Pinch red pepper flake
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp coconut sugar for sweetness, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained

Method: 

  1. Heat a large rimmed skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, shallot, and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until slightly softened and fragrant. Turn down heat if browning.
  2. Add carrots and a pinch of salt and stir. Cook for 3-4 minutes more, then add tomato sauce and stir to coat.
  3. Add red pepper flake, basil, oregano, coconut sugar, water, and lentils. Increase heat slightly and bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to low/medium-low and continue cooking until lentils are tender – stirring occasionally – about 17-20 minutes. Add a bit more water if mixture gets too thick.
  4. Once lentils are cooked, taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt to taste, coconut sugar for sweetness, red pepper flake for heat, or herbs for flavour balance.
  5. Serve the bolognese over noodles of choice (I opted for plain old spaghetti).
  6. Sauce will keep in the refrigerator up to 3 days or in the freezer 1 month.

This is honestly a great alternative to the heavier meats we often use in bolognese and it means that we don’t have to keep making vegan meals an afterthought. As always, let me know how you get on with making this, I would love to see what kind of modifications you make to it and bring your own kinds of flavours to it!

Recipe adjusted from Minimalist Baker.

Simple Cupcakes

As mush as I love the rich buttercream and cream cheese frostings, sometimes you just gotta take a break and take it right back to the good old days of basic vanilla cupcakes with a simple fruit toping and a sprinkle of icing sugar. These are super simple, super quick, and frankly, adorable.

Ingredients:

  • 120g butter, softened
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 120g self-raising flour
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • Chopped fruits of your choosing
  • 1tsp icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk (if necessary)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases – or grease well if baking without a case.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and mix in along with the vanilla extract.
  3. Fold in the flour, adding a little milk until the mixture is of a dropping consistency. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until they are 1/4 full.
  4. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes. Then place on a wire rack.
  5. Top with chopped fruits of your choosing and sprinkle with a little icing sugar for added sweetness.

Like I mentioned yesterday, I’m super into easy desserts and things that look fab even though little to no effort has gone into them and these cupcakes most definitely fall into that category! Though I hope to get back into the icing game soon, I’m not terribly fussed and could probably live with fruity cupcakes for a while.

As usual guys, let me know when you make these so I can see you all making your food look WAY better than mine because I have noticed all you cute af food photographers out there!

Happy cooking, my loves!

Caramel Tarts

If there’s anything I like more than cooking savoury foods, it’s cheat dessert recipes. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE making things from scratch, but desserts can sometimes make me throw in the towel. The intricacy and level of detail that goes into getting that perfect pastry or the runny consistency of syrup or the richness of buttercream, it’s all waaaay beyond me. I like solid things that are quick, easy, and are at an amateur level of cooking but look like they’ve had a lot of thought put into it, if ya know what I mean.

Anyway, one of those things that really test me are caramel tarts. I love eating it and have done since those primary school lunches on a Friday, but it’s not until now that I’ve learnt to master them without wanting to break down into tears – the back story you’re missing here: the first ever time I made caramel tarts, my brother tried to ‘help’ and ended up over-mixing my caramel mixture and cracking my pastry, but I’m not bitter about it or anything…

The recipe I have for you guys today makes about 18 mini tarts, BUT I am pretty sure the last time I made this, my ingredients yielded double the number of tarts so I guess it depends on how many you want to make at that given time. Also, you can absolutely trade in the mini size for a larger pastry case and make it a sharing dessert!

Call this recipe a life hack, a cheat’s recipe, an amateur’s guide to success… whichever shoe fits to be honest. Either way, you’ll enjoy it and so will whoever else you choose to (or not to) share them with.

Ingredients:

  • Sweet pastry cases (I get the Sainsbury’s version with 18 mini cases in a pack)
  • Carnation Caramel (198g/18 mini tarts)
  • Chocolate vermicelli

Method:

  1. Open the tin of caramel and stir well with a spoon until there is a thick but runny consistency.
  2. Using a teaspoon, spoon in the caramel into each pastry case.
  3. Top with a few strands of chocolate vermicelli and leave in the fridge to set for 20-30 minutes. (these can keep for up to 5 days)

I told you, super quick and super easy! No fuss desserts will forever have a place in my heart and I hope I can keep finding new ones to try out for you guys!

Rose Apples

If you’ve followed me long enough, you’ll know I love a bit of drama – even if it is just through reinventing apparent complex desserts in the simplest possible way. And believe me when I say this, these rose apples bring the right level of drama to parties, events, or even when treating yourself.

Ingredients:

  • 3 apples, thinly sliced
  • 2 sheets of puffed pastries, thawed and cut each sheet into 6 equal slices
  • 6 tbsp Bramley apple sauce
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • Powdered sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C
  2. Fill a medium sized bowl half full of water and squeeze the lemon juice into the water. Place the sliced apples in the water and microwave for 5 minutes until slightly tender.
  3. Drain the apples into a colander.
  4. Mix the apple sauce and water together in a bowl.
  5. One at a time, spoon the sauce mixture onto a slice of pastry.
  6. Place 7-9 apple slices along one half of the pastry slice with the peel side facing out.
  7. Fold the pastry in half to cover the apples.
  8. Starting on one end, roll the pastry and apples to the other end of the pastry.
  9. Place in a greased muffin tin and continue with the other pieces of pastries until you have 12 apple roses.
  10. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar combination if desired.
  11. Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of oven so the bottom of pastries do not burn and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. Top with a little powered sugar before serving.

These rose apples always go down a treat and I’m sure you’ll love them as much as we all do! Let me know how you get on!

Mushroom Bhaji

Folks, I just want to know why nobody has told me about this amazing concept of currifying mushrooms before?? It’s the most amazing thing I’ve accidentally stumbled across! I’m not gonna lie to you guys, I’ve never tried it before because we have to use mushrooms very sparingly in this house since there are only 2 out of the 8 of us who actually like it. BUT, this is definitely the start of something new (hoping there are some HSM fans up in here who sang that line in their heads like I just did).

Just a point to make here, this recipe is a staple in our house and the mushrooms are replaced with literally any vegetable we can get our hands on and it always goes down a treat because a) veggies are amazing for our bodies and b) we still get to retain that curry flavour because the small spice selection packs a huge punch. So, without further adieu, ladies and gentlefolk, I present to you all my 15 minute recipe of mushroom bhaji!

Ingredients:

  • 1 punnet of mushrooms (approx. 400g), washed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 chillies, split lengthways
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/3 tsp turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • Handful of chopped coriander

Method:

  1. In a wide pan, add 2 tbsp of oil over medium to low heat. Add the onions, chillies and salt – add some water if the onions get too dry.
  2. Add the spices and cook until onions are soft.
  3. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until tender.
  4. Garnish with coriander and serve hot.

It’s as easy as that! Depending on your speed of chopping, this recipe takes about 15-20 minutes and honestly, it’s the easiest thing to make when you want to salvage some dying vegetables or even have some of those curry flavours without all the fuss of waiting around.

Like always, let me know if you try out this recipe either with mushrooms or other vegetables! Happy cooking, folks!

Recipe inspired by Salma’s Recipes.

Spaghetti Bolognese

It dawned on me today that I make spaghetti bolognese at nearly every sit-down dinner and yet, I’ve never posted my super quick and easy recipe for it. I’m not sure if you guys have figured it out yet but most of my meals are usually made for either 7-8 people because there are indeed 8 people in my family and so when I cook, it’s for everyone at once. I’m also going to try and start pricing out my meals (based on Sainsbury’s prices where I can) so that for you guys who want to do budget meals etc., it’s a lot easier!

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat and saute the onions with salt.
  2. When soft, add the mince lamb, curry powder, and soy sauce. Mix well, cover with a lid, and leave the meat to brown for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once the meat has browned, add the tinned tomatoes and oregano. Break down the tomatoes well using a wooden spoon.
  4. Leave to cook well for a further 10-15 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet – boil a saucepan of water, add a pinch of salt, and leave the spaghetti until soft and drain into a colander.
  6. Garnish the mince with coriander and serve over the spaghetti with a cheese of your choosing – we tend to go for cheddar by default.

Let me know if you guys make this! You know the drill by now and all the places to contact me on – happy cooking!

p.s. drop me a message on any platform if you want me to keep up with the pricing to help with budget meals!

Vegetable Pulao

Listen guys, I think we have all accepted that I am a disaster when it comes to frequent posting even if I’m visiting different joints or cooking daily. It’s not even that I don’t have time because frankly, sometimes I have too much of it. I think I’m just lazy and I want it to be great but at the same time I’m umming and ahhing and you know what, this sounds more like a description of my life so far instead of just this blog’s journey, haha. But, I have a plan. Since Ramadan is fast approaching and I would actually like to make the most of my time, I’m making meal plans well in advance with recipes included and sitting in the drafts here so that once I make them, I can literally just take a picture and upload it! 

In the meantime though, enjoy this one pot vegetable pulao I had a blast making for a super cute and empowering women’s lunch!

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups basmati rice
  • 2 tbsp oil/ghee
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 star anise
  • ½ tsp jeera
  • 3 green cardamoms
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 green chillies, slit lengthways
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp mint sauce/handful of mint leaves
  • 1 ½ cups chopped vegetables
  • salt to taste
  • 3 cups water

Method:

  1. Wash and soak rice for at least 15 mins. Drain water and set aside.
  2. In a medium/large saucepan, saute the dry spices in hot oil/ghee until they start to sizzle.
  3. Saute onions until golden brown.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic and let infuse with onions until there is no raw smell.
  5. Add all the chopped veggies and mint, stir in and leave for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the water and salt and bring to a rolling boil.
  7. Add the drained rice and stir into the mixture.
  8. Cook the rice on a medium flame until the water evaporates. While rice is still soggy, cover with a lid and lower the flame. Cook on low heat for a further 5 mins and then switch off the stove.
  9. Fluff up the rice with a fork and garnish with fried onions and/or some coriander. Serve hot with a raita.

    As always, if you make it, let me know! All my social media links are available somewhere along the top or bottom of this site. Happy cooking, my loves! 

    Baklava

    For someone who posts a lot of dessert recipes and has a major sweet tooth, I seldom enjoy desserts. Maybe I just like sugar, haha. But, it’s cool, I still love making it for the people I love – especially when they fawn over it like it’s the best thing on the planet, my ego loves the high life.

    Anyway, in a bid to overcome the laziness that seems to settle itself in my bones every so often, I have finally decide to update this blog with my quick and easy baklava recipe. Obviously, if you follow me on Instagram you will know that I’ve been meaning to make this update a very long time ago and to make up for my absence here, have been uploading step by step instructionals using the story feature every time I make something. Hopefully though, my written instructions are as quick and simple to understand as the story was!

    Ingredients:

    • 1 packet filo pastry
    • 1 1/4 cups melted unsalted butter (can be replaced with a vegan alternative?)
    • 4 cups nuts, finely chopped (I used pistachios)
    • 1tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 1/2 cup honey
    • Desiccated coconut/chopped nuts to garnish

    Prep:

    1. Thaw pastry by package instructions (I left in the fridge overnight and then let it rest on the counter for an hour to bring up to room temperature).
    2. Trim the pastry to fit your baking dish and cover with a damp towel to keep from drying out. (to avoid excess food waste, I used the pastry trimmings to create further layers)
    3. Butter the bottom and sides of a non-stick baking pan.

    Method: 

    1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, honey, lemon juice, and water. Bring to a boil over medium/high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then reduce heat to medium/low and boil for an additional 4 mins without stirring. Remove from heat and let syrup cool while preparing baklava.
    2. Pulse nuts in a food process or until coarsely ground/ finely chopped. In a bowl, stir together the chopped nuts and cinnamon.
    3. Place 10 filo sheets into the baking pan one at a time, brushing each sheet with butter once it’s in the pan before adding the next. Keep remaining filo covered with a damp towel at all times else the sheets start to dry out and crack. Spread about ⅕ of the nut mixture (about ¾ cup) over the top layer.
    4. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
    5. Add 5 buttered sheets of filo, then another layer of nuts. Repeat this 4 times. Finish off with 10 layers of buttered filo sheets. Brush the very top with butter.
    6. Cut pastry into wide strips, then cut diagonally to form diamond shapes.
    7. Bake until tops are golden brown.
    8. Remove from oven and immediately spoon cooled syrup evenly over the hot baklava (you’ll hear it sizzle). This will ensure that it stays crisp rather than soggy. Add any garnishes at this stage. Let baklava cool completely, uncovered and at room temp – best enjoyed the next day or in a few hours.

    The premise is pretty straightforward and as my first attempt, I like to think that it went pretty well. The only top tips I have are:

    • don’t put too much of the nut mixture between each layer
    • don’t underestimate just how much butter you will be using
    • try and use more than a packet of pastry so that you don’t need to worry when you lose a layer
    • keep your garnishing ready for as soon as the honey syrup is poured over, it sets very fast
    • keep a watch on the oven to ensure the tops don’t become brown (like mine) instead of a golden brown

    Let me know how you all get on either via email or on Instagram. It’s so nice to watch some of these recipes come to life in some of your hands with your innovative twists and takes on my favourite foods.