Smokey Baked Feta Cheese with herby rice and salad

Emma and I made this together a couple of weeks ago. It is delicious and so simple – pretty much just cover feta cheese with smoked paprika and out it under the grill.
The rice had lime juice and zest, cumin, fresh coriander and spring onions. Emma thought that she didn’t like radishes but was converted!

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I have been doing some cooking with Katherine. I thought I didn’t like radish but it is great covered in lime!

I have put a picture of what we made and a photo of the recipe in case you want to mark it yourself.

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Omelette.

I didn’t know that I could make omelette. In the Allcock family it is traditionally something that only my Dad makes, so when Emma requested it for her cooking lesson I have to admit that my heart sank a little. I wasn’t confident to make it up as I went along as I usually do so I dutifully scouted the internet for a recipe and came across one by Jamie Oliver – I reckoned that he probably knew what he was talking about so I went with using his basic recipe.

Emma and I added artichoke, bacon and olives to our omelettes which was delicious. The joy of this recipe is that you can add all sorts of things, and can do each one differently if you have picky people to cook for. It’s good for using up leftovers – I am quite tempted to make one with some leftover roast chicken tomorrow – and you can throw all sorts of store-cupboard bits at it to make it more interesting.

Basic Ingredients
For one person

  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 small knob butter
  • 1 small handful Cheddar cheese , grated

Method for a Basic omelette:

  1. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper. Beat well with a fork.
  2. Put a small frying pan on a low heat and let it get hot. Add a small knob of butter. When the butter has melted and is bubbling, add your eggs and move the pan around to spread them out evenly. When the omelette begins to cook and firm up, but still has a little raw egg on top, sprinkle over the cheese.
  3. Using a spatula, ease around the edges of the omelette, then fold it over in half. When it starts to turn golden brown underneath, remove the pan from the heat and slide the omelette on to a plate.

Method using added yummy stuff:

Follow the recipe above; but prepare the extra bits (some may need cooking first) and then when you get to Stage 3 put them on top of the cheese before you fold it over.

Some examples of things you might like to add:

  • Mushrooms
  • Ham
  • Tuna
  • Sweetcorn
  • Spinach
  • Bacon
  • Onion
  • Cooked chicken
  • Courgette

Some of these will need grilling or frying first, such as the bacon, courgette and onion.

Please do share with me your omelette creations – I would love to know what weird, wonderful & delicious combinations you use!

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James Learns to Cook – Part 2

I have had a complaint recently that there have been no more ‘James Learns to Cook Posts’ – very remiss of me! I have just been looking through my phone at photographs and came across some from a cooking lesson that I had failed to write up – good old British Spag Bol – oh, hang on, pasta’s European isn’t it? Oh well (… and that’s about as political as I will ever get on this blog!).

I don’t have a photo of the finished product because I had deleted it before I remembered why I had taken it, it was rather delicious though.

Enjoy!

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… and here boys and girls is how one chops and onion.

Ingredients

  • an onion
  • a clove or two of garlic
  • minced beef (about 150g per person is about right)
  • a tin of tomatoes
  • some fresh tomatoes (only because I happened to have some which needed using up)
  • a squeeze of tomato puree
  • a beef stock cube
  • oregano
  • black pepper
  • spaghetti
  • grated cheese

Method

I think that the pictures below are pretty clear, but in essence…

Chop the onion and garlic, as finely as you can comfortably do without crying uncontrollably, and then fry them in some olive oil along with the oregano and pepper.

When the onions are beginning to  become ‘transparent’ add the minced beef and break it up with a spoon or spatula, adding more oil if it begins to stick. At this point I sometimes add a splash of red wine if I have some open; I don’t tend to bother opening a bottle just for this purpose (although it can be a good excuse). James only drinks Cava so that doesn’t help much.

When the mince is beginning to brown, crumble the stock cube into it and add the fresh tomatoes, tomato puree and tinned tomatoes. Allow this lovely mixture to simmer for about ten minutes, cover with a lid if you have one.

Grate some cheese and then cook the pasta, following the instructions on the packet. Taste the beef before serving and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Pop-tastic mate!

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Tofu Veg Noodles

As you know, I have been cooking with the lovely Emma recently. She has been doing incredibly well and getting a lot more confident in the kitchen; I am also Really proud of her for starting a blog, which is about autism, cooking, her pets and ‘stuff’! Nice one Emma!

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I made Tofu Vegetable Noodles today because I can not eat meats and hard things from having a tooth out and definitely not when the hole is infected. Thank you Katherine Allcock.

My next lesson on my blog will be learning how to make my picture’s small or big.

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Pasta with Green Pesto, Mozzarella and Chicken

Cooking lesson number three with Emma!

Emma told me that she really likes mozzarella and courgette (zucchini for you Aussies), so for our third cooking lesson we cooked pasta with chicken, mozzarella and courgette. However, we decided on tasting it that it was a bit too bland for our liking and just a little bit too dry. I asked Emma what she thought we could have done differently and she came up with adding some lemon juice and some paprika; she tried this adapted recipe a couple of days later and apparently it was delicious.

The recipe given below is with Emma’s amendments. Enjoy.

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Ingredients

These amounts feed one person – double it if you are cooking for a friend.

  • 1 cup of pasta
  • A tablespoon of olive oil
  • Diced Chicken
  • ½ Courgette
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika (you can add more if you like)
  • 1 tablespoon of Green pesto
  • ½ Mozzarella ball
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan, add the chicken, paprika and a grind of pepper and fry it stirring frequently. Chop the courgette into rounds. When the chicken is sealed (cooked on the outside) add the courgette and lemon juice and continue to stir. Turn the heat down if the chicken starts to stick to the pan.

While the chicken is cooking boil the kettle for the pasta. Put the pasta in a saucepan with a grind of salt and a tiny splash of oil, add the boiling water and give it a little stir so that the pasta doesn’t stick together. Cook on a medium heat.

Next, slice the mozzarella ball into circles.

When the pasta is cooked drain it and then put it back in the saucepan along with the Pesto, give it a good stir.

Check that the chicken is cooked all the way through by taking the biggest piece and cutting it in half.

Put the pasta onto a plate, arrange the mozzarella on top, and then put the chicken and courgette on top of that – the heat from the pasta and the chicken will make the mozzarella nice and melty.

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Pasta Carbonara – with Bacon & Crème fraîche

This is a simple (and delicious) take on pasta carbonara, which Emma and I made for her second cooking lesson. Emma said that she made it again later in the week and it was just as wonderful.

I’m afraid I didn’t take the best photographs ever for this post – partly because I had lost my phone and was using a strange camera, but mostly because I was too impatient to scoff the lot!

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Ingredients

These quantities are for one person, if you are feeding someone else it is easy to double it (or triple it!).

  • One Cup of Pasta
  • One tablespoon of Olive oil
  • Two rashers of bacon
  • One clove of Garlic
  • ½ teaspoon of Dried Oregano
  • A small onion
  • Four Mushrooms (we didnt’t end up putting these in because Emma is not a fan, you could substitute in courgette instead)
  • Two tablespoons of Crème fraîche
  • A handful of grated cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Chop the onion and garlic and add to a frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil (we used some  basil olive oil – yummy), along with a couple of grinds of black pepper and the oregano. Turn the hob on to a medium heat.

Using scissors, chop up the bacon into small pieces and add to the frying pan. Give everything a good stir.

Chop the mushrooms and add these to the pan.

Next, boil the kettle for the pasta. Put the pasta in a saucepan with a grind of salt and a tiny splash of oil, add the boiling water and give it a little stir so that the pasta doesn’t stick together. Cook on a medium heat.

While the pasta is cooking, grate the cheese.

When the onion and garlic is beginning to look nice and browned then turn off the heat (you can leave the pan in place). When the pan is no longer sizzling add the Crème fraîche, a tablespoon or two of the hot water from the pasta and half of the cheese.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it and then add it to the frying pan. Put the heat back on low below the frying pan and give everything a nice stir until the cheese is melted.

Serve with the extra cheese on top and salt and pepper to taste.

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Yummy Chicken and Basil Salad, with New Potatoes

My lovely friend Emma has asked me to teach her how to cook. Last night was the first lesson, and I think you’ll agree that she did pretty well!

This recipe serves two people.

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Ingredients

  • 250g diced chicken
  • Olive oil infused with basil (if you don’t have this, add some fresh or dried basil)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 pepper
  • 1 garlic clove (or more!)
  • Mixed salad leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • New potatoes (a handful each)

Method

Zest the lemon, then cut it in half and juice it.

Put the chicken, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and pepper, half of the lemon juice and a splash of the basil olive oil into a bowl and leave it to marinade.

While the chicken is marinating, arrange the salad leaves in a bowl and then chop the pepper into strips. Crush or finely chop the garlic.

Now make a simple salad dressing using the rest of the lemon juice, the same volume of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon (or less) of sugar; either put together in a jug and give it a good stir, or if you have an empty jam-jar put the ingredients into that and give it a good shake (with the lid on tight!).

Clean the potatoes and put them into saucepan, add a pinch of salt and boiling water from the kettle.

When the potato water is bubbling well it is time to start cooking the chicken. Heat a tablespoon of the basil oil in a frying pan, add the chicken and fry it stirring frequently. When the chicken is sealed (cooked on the outside) add the pepper and garlic and continue to stir. Turn the heat down if the chicken starts to stick to the pan.

Check that the chicken is cooked all the way through by taking the biggest piece and cutting it in half.

Serve on a bed of green salad.