Category Archives: Starter

Assorted tapas


This blog post is one I’ve been meaning to do for a while, using a few recipes from a great book I won at work!  With a few colleagues we had a really nice picnic in the park and all brought different dishes.  There was a prize for the most creative/colourful dish and my spicy couscous recipe won!!!

I had some free time today, so randomly selected 3 recipes as well as using some leftovers from a dish I cooked last night 🙂  I prepared them pretty much all at the same time but I will try and put some separation in here so it’s easier to follow and to group the many pictures in this veritable feast!

Broad beans with cheese and prawns

To start this recipe off I boiled 6 large shell-on prawns for 8 minutes and in the meantime chopped half a block of edam cheese (the recipe said gruyere but I went with edam) and boiled the broad beans (whole pods with the edges trimmed and then chopped into large pieces) with some dried thyme in the water for 7 minutes.

Once they were both done I let them cool before peeling and deheading the prawns and adding to a bowl with the cheese.

I then added a bit more thyme to a bowl and mixed with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 4 tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper.  I then poured this sauce over the prawn, bean and cheese mixture and served.






Aubergine and pepper dip

Luckily I got an array of aubergines in my organic veg box this week so this recipe was perfect to make some headway into them!

I pricked two aubergines with a fork, along with a red pepper, drizzled in olive and oil and baked in the oven for 45 minutes.  You will see the picture below also shows roasting garlic which is for the next recipe!



Once they were cooked, I let them cool a little and then peeled the aubergines and chopped the flesh into large pieces.  I removed the seeds from the pepper and also cut this into large strips before cooking in some oil with the aubergine for 5 minutes.

I then added them to a blender along with 1 tablespoon of coriander, half the juice and rind of a lemon, half a teaspoon of paprika and some salt and pepper and mixed to a puree.  I served the puree on bread but I do think this dip would be better with tortilla chips or something similar.








Potato wedges with roasted garlic dip

For the final dish here (although I did start this first as the potatoes took the longest to cook!), I halved potatoes and then cut the halves into three.  I drizzled over some olive oil, some salt and also one crushed clove of garlic.  Then I put them on a baking tray and cooked for 1 hr 15 mins.


While the potatoes were cooking, I used the cloves of garlic I had roasted from before (1 garlic bulb, separated into cloves, drizzled with olive oil on 200 degrees for 25 mins) now they were cool.  I removed the skin and mashed until relatively smooth.  I added them in a bowl with 1 pot of natural yoghurt and 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise and seasoned with salt and paprika.  Then I covered the bowl with clingfilm and put in the fridge to chill while the potatoes continued cooking.





I did reduce most of the ingredients with the intention of being able to serve 2 but we have plenty of leftovers for tomorrow so I would say all of the above would serve 3-4 people.

I enjoyed making all the recipes and was certainly good to make some headway into my tapas cooking experience.  I guess I’m still a bit of a whole dish kind of person so it’s good to extend my repertoire a little further!

And as for the favourite dish… it was probably the potato wedges with the roasted garlic dip!  Really tasty, quite easy to prepare, really enjoyed the crunch of the potatoes with the freshness of the dip!  All were good though and definitely will be repeated.

A big thanks to my work colleagues for letting me win and to Noa for choosing this great prize 🙂

Finally, I wanted to make a brief mention of the fourth dish as although it wasn’t from the book, it did accompany this tapas lunch as well as making a tasty dinner last night!  It was vegetable and salmon bake; another recipe from the BBC.  Really creamy and tasty and a definite recommendation!

The one lonely picture from today (it wasn’t intended to be a blog post but was too delicious not to mention!):




Filed under Cheese, Fish, Food, Food blogging, Healthy, Herbs, Recipes, Salad, Spanish, Starter, Tapas, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Kohlrabi, leek and courgette soup


I’ve had 3 kohlrabis in various vegetable boxes now.  I’m still learning about them and so far have definitely found them much better in soups.  I tried this recipe today and really enjoyed it so thought it was the best one to share.

I used half a courgette, one leek, one onion, one kohlrabi for the vegetables, chopping them into fairly big pieces.  This probably makes enough for four people.

I started by melting some butter in a large saucepan, adding the chopped leek and frying gently for 5 minutes.  I then added the rest of the vegetables along with 750ml of chicken stock and some chopped parsley and simmered for about 25 minutes.  I blended it until it was quite smooth and served straight into bowls before adding some freshly ground black pepper, a spoon of double cream and topping with some more parsley.

Another tasty dish and fast to make, just a shame it is 25 degrees outside so we are not really in soup season!  I think if the kohlrabis keep coming, I will have to advance the repetoire!




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Filed under Food, Herbs, Recipes, Soup, Starter, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Pasta with fresh fava beans, chard and pancetta & Cream of butternut squash soup


I had my second veg box delivery this week after being on holiday for a week and the main item was fava beans or at least that was how it seemed based on size.  There was also butternut squash, lettuce, chard and leeks but the fava beans were the ingredient most unfamliar to me.

For this recipe I was able to utilise both the fava beans and some of the chard and it led to a tasty pasta dish:

I would definitely recommend this recipe but with the disclaimer that to use fresh fava beans, you should set aside a good few hours!!!  The ones I got seemed to be very small and the process of taking them out of the pods took almost an hour alone.  Then after blanching them in the water it was probably close to another hour to take them out of the shells.  Due to the fact they were so small, I’m not 100% convinced I could really taste them in the recipe either!  But well, one of the aims of this blog was to learn more about different foods so I will think twice about including them in a recipe in future 🙂  Also it is Sunday, so a couple of hours working on a dish is a treat anyway!

All the favas at he beginning:


Step 1; taking them out of the pods


Step 2; about to be blanched:




Step 3; taking them out of their shells after blanching:


The easier parts of the recipe…:





From my box this week I also made a tasty butternut squash soup. The butternut squash was the complete contrast to the fava beans as it was enormous, meaning I made quite a thick soup!



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Filed under Food, Food blogging, Italian, Pasta, Recipes, Soup, Starter, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Alternative Christmas Dinner! – Scallops with a sabayon sauce and Fish Pie!


As I stated in my previous post, I cooked for some of my family on Christmas Day what with my mum doing the traditional turkey dinner for all the family on Boxing Day this year 🙂  It’s taken me a while to get this post up as Christmas time at home is pretty hectic and then straight back to Barcelona and work on 30th!

It was nice to choose the recipes for this day; something special that would take a bit more time to cook as I would have the majority of Christmas morning to do it.  It was also very nice to be able to cook for my family on this day and take some of the pressure from my mum during the holiday season (although she just did it all the next day instead, and the next day and the next day!).

I’d cooked the scallops in the sabayon sauce before (from the Little Paris Kitchen book) but this was the first time I’d tried this particular fish pie.

The thought of cooking Christmas Day didn’t daunt me too much but the thought of shopping in a UK supermarket on Christmas Eve did quite a bit!  In reality it was calmer than I thought but things were starting to run out.  We took the last 10 scallops, had to buy frozen prawns and had to used dried dill rather than fresh but apart from that it went very smoothly!  I was also offered a good deal on a carp (presumably with all the fish I was buying I had been identified as a prime candidate to buy) but really didn’t really have a use for that as well!

I started off by defrosting the prawns and then taking the heads and the shells off and putting to one side to use in the sauce of the pie.


I mixed the prawn shells with milk, butter, onion, bay leaf and pepper corns and simmered for 10 mins.  When it was done I set it to one side to infuse.


Then I put the fish into a roasting pan, skin side up.  I strained the infused milk into the pan on top of the fish and simmered on the hob for 8 mins.  I left them to cool a little before flaking into a bowl removing the skin and any bones before mixing with the prawns.



Sneak peaks into the guest kitchen…. (much bigger than mine!!!)



I melted the butter and added the flour and then gradually the flavoured milk left in the roasting pan.  I whisked while simmering for about 15 mins until thick and added a little salt and pepper.  I added the parsley and poured the sauce over the fish and left to cool a little.








Meanwhile I’d boiled the potatoes in salted water for 20 mins and soaked a pinch of saffron in a couple of tablespoons of hot water.  I beat in the saffron to the mashed potatoes before adding the butter, milk and dill.




Now the fish mixture had cooled, I spread the mash on top and baked in the oven for 40 mins on 180 degrees and until the top was brown and crispy.  The saffron gave the mash a really nice colour so will be using this in mash in the future for sure!

While the pie was baking, I started the scallops.  First with the sabayon sauce by putting the egg yolks, wine and sugar and salt into a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  I whisked for 10 mins until thick and foamy.


I set this aside while I cooked the scallops with a bit of oil.  2 mins on one side and then 3 mins on the other.  I served the scallops in their shells with a bit of rocket on the side and the sabayon sauce dripped over the top.





So the verdict and the final pictures; the scallops were great as a starter and went down very well with my family 🙂  Very tasty and a very nice mix of flavours!  Quite a pretty plate too 🙂


And the pie was extremely tasty too!  It’s quite a big investment of time but worth the effort with some nice touches in the recipe including the saffron in the mash and the prawn shell infused milk makes a big different to the taste.



My family seemed happy so that was the main thing!  Mum said the best Christmas Dinner ever but I’m quite sure she was being nice!  It was good to have something different though and these recipes are a luxurious treat for Christmas 🙂

And now as an extra; a peak into the best Christmas Dinner ever (served on Boxing Day this year).  Traditional turkey dinner by my mum 🙂  Really the best ever and something I look forward to a lot with the pigs in blankets always my favourite!!!  All the family together too so a perfect Boxing Day!


A belated Merry Christmas to all and hope the New Year has started well 🙂


Scallops with a sabayon sauce – served 5

10 large scallops with shells

Several handfuls of rocket

Olive oil

4 egg yolks

100 ml dry white wine

Pinch of sugar and salt

Fish pie – serves 5 (including seconds!!!)

350g raw shell on prawns (I could only find frozen)

700 ml milk

1 bay leaf

2 peppercorns

450g haddock (or any white fish)

450g smoked haddock (or cod)

75g butter

75g flour

4 tablespoons of chopped parsley

Salt and pepper

For the mash

1.3kg floury potatoes

Large pinch of saffron threads

75g butter

250ml milk

3 tablespoons of fresh dill (if you can get it!)

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Filed under English, Fish, Food, Food blogging, French, Herbs, Pie, Pies, Recipes, Starter, Uncategorized

Oeufs en cocotte (eggs in pots)


Today is my first day of Christmas holidays so what better way to start it with a nice breakfast!  In bed!  Well, I had to get out of bed to make it but got back in to eat it, so still the concept is there 🙂

I started going through recipe books this morning in bed (starting a weekend in this way is just heaven for me!) as I’m cooking for my family on Christmas Day this year.  An alternative Christmas dinner as we are having the traditional dinner on Boxing Day when everyone will be together.  So as I was searching for the recipes for Christmas Day, I came across this recipe in the Little Paris Kitchen book which seemed perfect for breakfast or could be done as a starter 🙂  I don’t want to say anymore about the Christmas dinner in case my mum gets a sneak preview!

I certainly didn’t have red lumpfish roe lying around my kitchen so for the additional topping I used ham but you can use whatever savoury item you want!  It is quite a simple recipe but still feels special; a great combination in my idea of cooking!

I added some salt and pepper and nutmeg to creme fraiche and mixed well.  Then I spooned a tablespoon into a ramekin, sprinkled some parsley on top, broke an egg on top and added another tablespoon of creme fraiche.  I added a little bit more salt, pepper and nutmeg and put the two ramekins into a baking tray and added enough lukewarm water in the tray to come up to about halfway of the ramekins.






I then baked in the oven for about 15 mins on 180 degrees, removed from the oven, sprinkled on a little parsley and added a couple of strips of ham.



So yes, very simple!  Only issue with this dish is trying to get a tray of boiling water out of my little oven which is above head height!  In reality the tray of water is still in there cooling down and I lifted the ramekins straight out.  One day I will have a bigger kitchen once more!  But for now, this little creation coming out of my little oven, in my little kitchen was a perfect start to the holidays 🙂




Filed under Breakfast, Food, Food blogging, French, Herbs, Recipes, Starter, Uncategorized

Spicy salmon mousse and homemade tagliatelle with chicken and asparagus



Today’s blog is more than one recipe again 🙂  A starter and a main;  spicy salmon mousse served with rocket and bread followed by homemade tagliatelle with a chicken and asparagus sauce.

The starter is from a book I have from the TV show Come Dine with Me.  Definitely recommend it to anyone who has not watched it although like most reality type tv shows, the earlier shows were the better ones!  The commentator still makes me laugh though even though the contestants have gotten more extreme over time!

The main course was decided as after 3 years living in Barcelona, I finally found the flour I needed to utilise my pasta machine!  I’ve probably moaned on here before about the limited range of flour in Barcelona so this flour came from a specialist Italian store.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a bag of flour 🙂

To start the salmon mousse I added 100g of smoked salmon (keeping a couple of small strips aside for garnish), 1.5 tablespoons of double cream, 150g cream cheese, a squeeze of lemon, half a teaspoon of parsley and a teaspoon of chilli flakes to a blender and mixed until smooth.  This made enough for 3 ramekins where I added the garnish on top and put into the fridge to set.  It goes great with rocket leaves and fresh bread for dipping directly in the mousse 🙂  These ingredients make enough for 3 people (same for the main).





For the main, I added 2 cups (200g) of 00 flour and 2 eggs into a blender and mixed until the dough started to form.  Then I kneaded it for a couple of minutes on a floured surface, before putting it into the fridge for one hour (wrapped in cling film).



After one hour, I removed it from the fridge and sliced in half ready for rolling.


I rolled it into two relatively long strips before getting some help from the pasta machine!



The biggest challenge with the machine was attaching it well enough to a surface!  The table would not work despite my intense level of concentration….


…neither a chair, nor a coffee table!  In the end a bedside table seemed to do the trick but still with an element of holding the machine steady!  Another day where I wished for a bigger, more equipped kitchen!  But anyway, got there in the end!

I put the strips through the machine 6 times (twice on three different settings, getting thinner each time).



Then I used the tagliatelle attachment of the pasta maker, cutting the long strips into two pieces so the tagliatelle was of a normal length!



I find it quite a fun process, pretty simple but it’s always nice to make something that is shop bought 99% of the time, at home 🙂


I put the plate of tagliatelle to one side while I concentrated on the rest of the main course.

I chopped half an onion, one quarter of a courgette, about 5 pieces of asparagus and one chicken breast.


I cooked the chicken and the asparagus for 4-5 mins in a little bit of oil, before adding the onion and courgette for a couple more minutes.  Once they were cooked, I added one clove of garlic (crushed), 150ml of double cream and 100ml of chicken stock (I substituted this in place of white wine) and heated until the sauce started to thicken.



In the meantime I cooked the pasta in boiling water with a bit of salt and olive oil for 3-4 minutes.  I added 1 tablespoon of fresh basil and 50g of freshly grated parmesan to the sauce, mixed well before also adding the cooked pasta.



The result was so good!!!  I think this is actually one of my simpler posts but actually it has to be one of my favourites 🙂  I even went back for seconds which is not like me!  The taste was really rich and the pasta did taste fresh.  Just a really nice, simple dish that I really recommend!


Filed under Cheese, Chicken, Fish, Food, Herbs, Italian, Pasta, Recipes, Starter, Uncategorized

First attempt at arancini

Not sure I am doing this reblogging correctly but you can see the original post which was my inspiration below!  Many thanks to Frugalfeeding for the idea (you can also access through the link below – it’s a great site with many mouth watering and inspiring pictures):

I’ve wanted to create this for a while and as I had so much leftover risotto, it was the perfect opportunity!  For the ingredients for the risotto base you can see the recipe below or here:

I left the risotto in the fridge overnight and then put a bit of plain flour on one plate, 1/4 of a baguette worth of breadcrumbs (!) on another plate and one beaten egg in a bowl.

I made 8 balls of risotto (for size guide see the pictures) and rolled in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs.  I put them on an oiled baking tray and cooked in the oven for about 25 minutes on 200 degrees by which time they had a nice golden colour.

The result;  great!  Very tasty and a nice alternative to traditional risotto.  I think they would be great as a starter to a dinner party.  However, I love risotto and for me, it is quite a time investment so I think unless I had a lot of leftovers, I would serve risotto as risotto, plain and simple!


Filed under Chicken, Food, Herbs, Italian, Recipes, Rice, Starter, Uncategorized