Saturday, 15 December 2012

super quick miso, pak choi and beef noodle soup

A recipe for one of my favourite things - noodle soup!!!!  I don't mind what country it originates from or what flavourings are in it;  and whether it's like my Gran's Polish chicken noodle soup or a spicy Asian influenced broth - as long as noodles are involved I am happy! 

This soup is of the Asian inspired variety and is based on what I had in the house - some lovely fresh miso paste, pak choi and leftover roast beef.  You can of course omit the beef completely if you would like or substitute it for pork, chicken, tofu or more vegetables.  I have not over complicated this recipe with lots of herbs and spices and the result is a nice clean tasting broth made from a simple stock flavoured with ginger and garlic.  The miso is stirred in just before serving as it should not be boiled as this destroys its nutritional value.

I finished the dish with some dried chilli flakes, soy sauce and fresh lime, but a big dollop of my hot and sweet chilli, garlic and ginger jam would also not go a miss..........but then again I would say that as it ends up on most of my meals!

I hope you enjoy!

preparation time:  5 minutes

cooking time:  5-10 minutes

serves 3-4 people


  • 250g noodles (I used egg noodles but most noodles would work, e.g rice noodles, udon noodles etc)
  • 2 litres vegetable/chicken stock (fresh or from stock cubes)
  • 3 pak choi - leaves washed and separated (or your choice of green vegetable, you could use greens, cabbage, broccoli etc)
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 4-5 thin slices of ginger
  • 5-6 mushrooms sliced  (I used chestnut but any would work) 
  • 250g roast beef (or substitute for leftover cooked chicken, pork, tofu or more vegetables)
  • 3 tbs miso paste 

optional toppings:

  • fresh lime
  • chilli flakes
  • soy sauce
  • fresh coriander
  • fresh mint
  • sesame seeds

  • add stock to a large saucepan and then add ginger, garlic and sliced mushrooms and bring to the boil for about 3-5 minutes.

  • add the noodles, sliced cooked roast beef, pak choi leaves and simmer for a further 3-5 minutes until the beef and noodles are cooked through.

  • take off the heat and stir in the miso paste.

  • serve in bowls with your choice of topping - I added freshly squeezed lime juice, dried chilli flakes and a dash of soy sauce.  

This only took me 15 minutes from start to finish - really quick, easy and delicious.  Also a tasty way to use up leftover roast meat.  Let me know how you get on and what you add to your noodle soup :) 

Friday, 14 December 2012

candied peel and aniseed biscotti

This recipe for biscotti makes a lovely food gift for Christmas and the holiday season - if you don't eat them all first!  These crunchy, twice baked Italian biscuits flavoured with aniseed and candied peel are really easy to make and don't take very long either.  You can always swap the candied peel and aniseed I use in this recipe for chopped nuts, chocolate chips or dried fruit with no problem.  These apparently keep really well in an airtight container for up to a month - however they have never lasted that long in my house :)

These biscotti  are great served after dinner and dunked in coffee or tea but also in a sweet dessert wine if you are that way inclined.  I hope you enjoy and try out this recipe.  Next time I am going to make them with chopped almonds and lemon zest I think.......

Happy Baking!

preparation time:  10-15 minutes
cooking time:  25-30 minutes
makes about 35-40 biscotti

300g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
175g sugar
2 eggs
100g chopped candied peel (or equal amounts of dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips etc - feel free to add your own favourite flavourings)
2 tbs aniseed
1 tsp vanilla extract

  • preheat the oven to 150C
  • add the eggs to a large bowl with the sugar and vanilla extract and whisk for a few minutes until doubled in size

  • sift in the flour and baking powder and stir in the candied peel and aniseed - mix until a dough is formed

  • tip out the dough onto a floured surface and shape into flattened 'sausage' shapes - about 5cm wide and 2cm high then place onto a greased baking sheet with a few inches space between each one.  
  • bake for about 15 minutes until light brown/golden and firm to the touch

  • remove from oven and slice into 1.5cm thick pieces then place back on the baking sheet

  • bake for a further 10-15 minutes until golden and crisped up.

  • allow to cool before serving.  Store in an airtight container.  

Buon Appetito!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Stilton and Cauliflower Soup

This lovely combination of cauliflower and Stilton cheese makes a thick, warming soup.  The cold weather is definitely influencing what I cook at the moment and I am craving nutritious, comforting foods! This is a quick and easy recipe and will be ready in about 30 minutes - perfect for a healthy lunch or dinner.

1 cauliflower chopped (including green outer leaves)
2 medium potatoes chopped
1 onion chopped
1 clove garlic
2 bay leaves
2 litres vegetable stock
50g Stilton cheese (but any blue cheese would work well I think)
1 tbs olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste  
(optional) chopped parsley to garnish

preparation time:  5-10 minutes
cooking time: 25-30 minutes 

  • heat a large pan then add the olive oil before adding the prepared potatoes, onion, garlic and bay leaves - soften for about 5 minutes

  • add the chopped cauliflower, cauliflower leaves and stock and bring to the boil.  Simmer for about 20-25 minutes - until the potatoes and cauliflower are soft and cooked through.

  • take off the heat and blend until smooth then crumble in the Stilton cheese and the juice of half a lemon  which just brightens the taste.  Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with chopped parsley if you like.    

I served this with some crusty bread and butter - would be great with one of these from how to eat properly - delicious :) 

Saturday, 8 December 2012

spiced pumpkin and dark chocolate cake

A spiced pumpkin cake with swirls of dark chocolate and chocolate chips.  This cake tastes like Christmas to me and reminds me of lebkuchen (German/East European spiced gingerbread cakes) and stem ginger covered in dark chocolate.  The dark chocolate and sweet pumpkin works brilliantly together in this warmly spiced cake - perfect for the cold weather and a great alternative to a traditional Christmas cake. 

3 cups plain flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
3 eggs
1 tin (425g) pumpkin puree (you could make your own from cooked and blended pumpkin/sweet potato)
200g dark chocolate (I used 80% cocoa - you can use a lower strength - but it does need to be dark chocolate with a high cocoa content)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp nutmeg

preparation time:  20 minutes
cooking time:  45-60 minutes

  • preheat the oven to 175C and grease and flour your tin - I used a 26cm bundt pan

  • in a large bowl add the eggs, oil and sugar and whisk for a few minutes until the mix is light and airy.

  • add the pumpkin puree and mix for another minute

  • sieve in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spices, salt and stir in carefully until it is all well mixed.

  • in a separate bowl melt 100g of chocolate either over a bain marie or in short bursts in the microwave (it always takes less time than you think - I check after every 10-20 seconds until it is melted).
  • chop/break into chunks the remaining 100g of chocolate 
  • separate the cake mixture into 2 bowls and into one mix the melted chocolate and the other the chocolate chunks.

  • spoon the mixture alternately into your prepared tin - smooth the top and bake for 45-60 minutes

  • it is cooked when a skewer comes out clean

  • leave to cool for a few minutes in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack
  • leave until completely cool before cutting into slices.