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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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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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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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Pork Souvlaki, Roasted Peppers, Tzatziki wrapped in Flatbread


I was flicking through the most recent edition of the Waitrose magazine when I saw a recipe for Pork Souvlaki. Now, I did not fancy pork mince, and so have gone off and done my own thing, using a nice lean cut of pork chump, chopped into nice large chunks. Chump is a delicate, non working piece of the pork, so needs to be cooked quickly, as there is so little fat.

Souvlaki is a fast food that can be purchased all over Greece. I became particularly enamoured by the chicken Souvlaki and pork versions, especially after a couple of drinks, celebrating a hard day sailing


These, I am sure would be even more fantastic on the BBQ. However, this is the UK, and a BBQ is a rare and special occasion - especially when you are away every weekend skydiving!

The Souvlaki are served on homemade flatbreads, with Tzatziki, Roasted Peppers, Diced Vegetable Salad and Plain Steam Rice. A true Greek feast!

The great thing about this dish is that it can all be prepared in advance, with only the kebabs needing attention when you are ready to serve.

A healthy, cheap and delicious dinner. We had left overs that were used for pack lunch the next day. By all accounts the flavours were even better cold! *Yum*

Pork Souvlaki : Close Up” width=

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Pizza Pasta Bake


Sometimes you just want to eat simple comfort food.

It was a Tuesday evening, and I had come in from the gym, and wanted something quick, wholesome and tasty.

The great thing about this dish is that you can cook the pasta, pancetta and tomato sauce all at the same time - meaning that preparation time is vastly reduced. Once it is in the oven you can crack on with your evening.

I based the pasta bake on pizza flavours. So I added mozzarella, smoky pancetta and oregano as my base flavours. The sour bread crumbs on top give a great crunch and textural difference. The mozzarella in the middle remains melted and gooey, whilst that on top goes golden and crispy.
(I was wanting to top this with strips of anchovy - but was told this was a step too far - I might try it one day smiley_wink)

I served this with a simple fresh salad and a quick mustard dressing.

Pizza Pasta Bake : Close Up

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Moules Frites


This dish brings back very fond childhood memories of summer holidays to France with my family.

I remember us frequenting the food markets of Bezier, picking up beautiful fresh vegetables, meat and fish.

To this day, I believe it is one of only three dishes that I can recall my father cooking. The other two were unsupervised efforts, whereby he set fire to a wooden spoon whilst making spaghetti and managing to weld a pizza to the oven by not removing the polystyrene underlay. I clearly do not inherit by father’s cooking genes!
smiley_wink (Update : I spoke with my Mum on Skype last night, and was reminded that the chips were always fetched from the campsite takeaway! I did think that was a culinary step too far for Dad!)

This is a very easy dish to make and pretty much foolproof.

The Pernod is optional, but in my opinion, a must, as it gives a wonderful but subtle aniseed flavour. If you need to have Pernod, a handful of tarragon would also work very well.

I like a little chilli after kick after, but you can leave out if you wish.

Serve the mussels with plenty of crusty bread to mop up the broth and a good handful of crispy chips. Enjoy with a glass of white wine!

Moules Frites : Enjoy with a Glass of White Wine

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Seared Scallop and Prawn Stir Fry


An incredibly quick and very tasty mid week dinner idea. I had just come in from the gym, and needed to rustle up a quick meal for the household.

As with any stir fry, preparation is the key to making this dish work. Make sure that you tackle the dish by cooking the noodles, chopping the vegetables, make the dressing and cleaning and preparing the shell fish. By the time the noodles are cooked, you should be ready to get cooking.

Cooking the dish is very simple, keep stirring, keep the heat high and follow the method listed.

I seared the scallops and prawns in a separate frying pan, so that I could control the heat and cook the shellfish with appropriate care!

A super delicious Asian inspired seafood treat!

You will love it!

Scallop and Prawn Stir Fry : Close Up


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Vietnamese Pulled Pork and Prawn Pho


If there is one dish that reminds me of my travels abroad and love of discovering new food, then this is the dish.

I think it is the fusion of traditional French cooking coupled with the balanced use of Vietnamese spices, citrus and herbs that I adore so much.

Traditionally, this would be made using beef bones - but I could not get any from the butchers on the day I wanted to make this. Fortunately, I had a batch of roast chicken bone stock in the freezer and so went with this. (Left over carcass from a roast chicken, halved and simmered with onion, star anise, thyme, peppercorns for 4 hours). As it happened, I think it was probably for the best, as the pulled pork and tiger prawns would have been over shadowed with a heavier base.

The depth of flavour, clarity of the broth and amazing roller coaster ride of hot, sweet, salty and sour that hits yours tastebuds made this an instant hit in the CookBakeSmile household.

Give it a go, and substitute the pulled pork with fish, more prawns, poached chicken / pork in the broth, if you do not have the time or inclination to spend so long in the kitchen. The Pho broth is very easy to make in its own right.

Vietnamese Pho : Close Up



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Oven Cooked Pulled Pork


I have never tasted, let alone tried to make pulled pork before!

Whether this has an authentic taste, I really cannot say! What I can say is that it tastes darn good! :-p I basically looked across the net for inspiration and then developed my own recipe. Almost all the recipes I looked at were based on Dr Pepper or a Cola base - so I followed suit
smiley_smile The dry rub seems to be one of those family secret affairs - where people only allude to a couple of the flavours.

Almost every recipe also called for shop bought BBQ sauce to be added to the pulled pork for the last hour of cooking. Personally, I could not see the point of going to the effort of developing all this flavour and then masking it - so this step was omitted.

The final results were delicious. The pork has a fantastic depth of flavour, is moist, tender and out of this world delicious. Considering this was neither slow cooked nor seen a BBQ, the outer bark of the pork was fantastically crispy, tangy and extremely tasty.

As a first attempt, as you can tell, I am very pleased. Roll on the BBQ season.

Pulled Pork : Serve in Baps


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Lazy Leftover Chilli Nachos!


I love leftovers, and I love coming up with three or four different ways to serve the same meal.

The chilli is extremely hot, but works really well with the cooling and soothing sour cream.

This is very easy and quick to make, no longer than 20 minutes. It was ideal, pulling the
chilli from the freezer and making such a simple and light meal after a full blown Easter lunch!

The flour tortilla crisp up brilliantly in the oven, and do not have all the extra salt that packet bought varieties contain.

Nachos : On the Plate


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Spicy Thai Minced Pork


Being Thai New Year, Songkran, it seems only appropriate to recreate another of my favourite dishes.

This is a very typical Bangkok style, Spicy Thai Minced Pork. I have fond memories of eating this numerous times across Thailand. Once in a while it would be so hot only a beer could quench the burn! As with many chilli hot dishes, the more you eat the more you want to have more!

It is a perfect balance of hot, sour, sweet and salty.

It really does take minutes to make. Once you have prepped /the vegetables, it is really just a super quick stir fry.
(There is no reason why you could not use a food processor to finely diced the ingredients first).

The pork freezes exceptionally well, and can be reheated in the microwave.

Being a celebration, I served the pork in lettuce wraps. Keeping it finger food, I also made
Spring Rolls and Sesame Prawn Toast.

A great festive celebration and a taste-bud extravaganza.

Spicy Thai Minced Pork : Thai Banquet


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Soy and Honey Chicken Kebabas on a Spicy Raw Vegetable Salad


Coming home late on a Sunday Evening, there was no desire to prepare a Sunday Roast.

Instead, I used this always reliable fall back. The salad is raw and very quick to make.

The marinade takes a couple of minutes to make. The chicken is succulent and has a great caramelised and chilli hot flavour - tempered by the honey and lemon.

If you have no time, skip marinading the chicken, and grill immediately.

The same ingredients can be quickly fried in the wok as an alternative.

A healthy and cheap Chinese main, suitable as a quick evening meal.

Soy and Honey Chicken : Another close up


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Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad


The weather was warm on Friday and what with a demand for fish for dinner, from the household - this absolutely hit the brief.

I love the zingy tasty dressing, the wonderful pick’ n’mix from the salad and the gorgeous just cooked and firm Tuna fillet.

I worked in Paris for three years, and the Nicoise was frequently served with canned haricot verte. They add a unique nutty flavour and bizarrely a crunchy texture and I think add something to the salad.

This is one of those dishes that you eat and each mouthful is unique but very very satisfying.

I cannot express how much you should cook this dish!

Tuna Niscoise



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Creamy Penne Pasta with Pancetta and Romaine Lettuce Salad


When I popped into
Wyndham House Butchers last week, Rod gave me a packet of Faella Penne Pasta. I have to say the pasta is extremely good - it went down extremely well with last night’s unexpected guests. I will definitely be picking up another packet in the near future.

I asked the butcher for the end piece of Pancetta - it was excellent. Great flavour, lots of meat and crisped up extremely well. Each lardon was like an explosion of salty goodness in your mouth!

This dish is ridiculously easy to make, from start to finish it can be made it 20-25 minutes.

The combination of cream, garlic, herbs and Parmesan always pack a punch in the flavour department. A classic and super tasty Italian meal ideal for a midweek dinner.

Penne Pasta : Creamy Paste Penne


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Breaded Chicken with a Herby Tomato Sauce and Garlic Bread


The tomato sauce is extremely versatile. It is the same sauce that I use for my pizzas.

Now that spring is here, my Marjoram and Oregano are growing great guns. You can substitute dried if you wish. The general rule of thumb is 3 : 1 fresh to dry.

If I recall correctly, I saw this recipe, or very similar on ITV by Gina D’Acampo. The mozzarella reinforces the pizza flavours of the dish.

Mid week, this meal can be made from start to finish in 25 minutes. Start with the tomato sauce, and everything will be ready at the same time
(The garlic bread will take 30 minutes).

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7382/13989313139_c91e19dba2_c.jpg


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Leftover Chicken and Prawn Tom Yum


Was feeling a little inspired today and wanted to make an authentic Tom Yum. My parents have lived in Thailand for many years, and I like to think that my recipes are pretty close to the real thing. I was lucky enough to help make a Fish Tom Yum on the beach in Hau Hin as a treat for being a regular!

With access to a good Asian greengrocers, such as
Thai Smile, or even a decent supermarket these days, the main stumbling blocks to these recipes have been removed. Sainsbury’s in Chiswick stocks fresh Tamarind, decent Thai Chillies and Kaffir Lime Leaves. The lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal, Thai basil and tamarind freeze really well - I keep them in a freezer bag and pull out when needed (can be prepared frozen with a sharp knife).

There are many ways to make Tom Yum broth, I like to base mine on lemongrass, fish sauce and galangal. This recipe is
HOT - unless you like the real deal I strongly advise you to half the amount of chilli. I had rivers of sweat running down my face - just like when I visit Thailand!

The broth will serve 4, and you can pretty much add what you like. I had some frozen Tiger prawns in the freezer, and used half a roast chicken breast from the weekend roast.

Tom Yum : Finished Dish (Side View)


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Homemade Burger and Chips


You cannot beat homemade burgers and chips. After a very heavy weekend in the Lake District for my brother’s stag do, I was not feeling particularly energetic today.

I love these burgers as they are moist and tasty, quick and cheap to make.

Burger and Chips : Let's Eat


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Smoked Salmon and Horseradish Fishcakes with a Beetroot and Leaf Salad and Lemon Dressing


Picking up smoked salmon trimmings mean that these fish cakes costs significantly less than you would expect. The horseradish compliments the salmon wonderfully and the crunchy polenta and breadcrumb topping is fabulous.

I like to serve the fishcakes on a bed of fresh salad leaves drizzled over with a lemon and mustard dressing.

An awesome mid week meal.

Fishcakes : Side shot


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