What I've been cooking #5: The Roasting Tin


Rukmini Iyer has taken such a simple concept and made it into a masterpiece with her cookbook The Roasting Tin. Every single recipe has been created to be cooked or baked in the humble roasting tin. We are obsessed with this book in our house. My boyfriend is in charge of all the cooking during the week as he gets home from work first and he loves the fact many of the recipes have minimal prep and then they can be shoved in the oven and forgotten about whilst he watches the next episode of the Big Bang Theory. Rukmini is always really active over social media and often will chip in with some tips or if you're having problems with some recipes. I honestly couldn't recommend this book enough and it's in my top three of my collection. I have over 100 books so it's a pretty high accolade.


Coconut, Raspberry and chocolate cake
Sunday is often my day to bake so it means Monday I go into work armed with a tin of cake. This was one bake I've taken into work and it went down a treat with everyone. I loved the mixture of flavours and it all worked so well together. It came out quite gooey but I think that was my fault rather than the fault of the recipe.


Super-simple plain sponge
You can't go wrong with a sponge. I had a ready made tub of chocolate icing in the cupboard so I didn't use any of Rukmini's suggested toppings. But the sponge came out really light which is always a winner. It doesn't quite beat my Hairy Bikers favourite but it's still worth making if you have the book.


Simple roast chicken and red pepper tray bake
This is one of our favourite dishes to make for dinner and have the leftovers for lunch. It's really simple but it just works perfectly together. The chicken is always so juicy and we love to add chorizo to give it a little something extra. This is such a staple in our house and we always make it at least twice month. A big deal when we mostly only try recipes once before moving onto the next one.


Tarragon roast chicken with potatoes, onions and garlic
My parents don't always enjoy my cooking but this is one dish they always gobble up. You can't never go wrong with a roast chicken to impress parents and this one is delicious. The potatoes cooked under the chicken are perfection and so addictive. Make sure you overindulge with the butter on the skin as the crisper it is the better. I used Thyme this time which works just as well!


Goats cheese, red pepper, mushroom and pesto tray bake
This is our number one favourite recipe in the book. Sometimes I make it on a Sunday afternoon to have as lunches throughout the week. It's a pure hug in a bowl, such comfort food. There's something about pasta bakes that just cream autumn don't you think? The pesto and goats cheese taste glorious together.


Bulgur wheat with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, feta and pine nuts
This is another dish which we made for work lunches. I love meal prepping on a Sunday afternoon as it saves you from thinking about lunch for the first couple of days of the week and helps you get into a routine. Saves me from opting for a Pret! This dish is delicious both hot and cold. It's pretty filling but I think I'd add some salad leaves in the future just to trick my head into thinking I'm padding it out.


Crispy baked gnocchi with tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and pine nuts
This is perfect for a cosy night in. It's so comforting and there's something about crispy gnocchi that just sings to me. Make sure you go for the gnocchi at the edge as they're the best bits! This doesn't taste quite as nice cold as it does hot so it's better to eat on the night that you make it.
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What I've been cooking #2: Mary Berry's Baking Bible

So this cookbook series didn't really go very well did it? I only reviewed one book and it was another Mary Berry one - who said I'm a creature of habit? I just find her recipes so simple and effective. I'm going to try and start this series up again as my cookbook collection has gotten out of control and soon I will have my own kitchen! I find spending a Sunday in the kitchen really relaxing and have been trying to keep that day aside each week to try and chill out after a hectic week. So without further ado, here is what I baked from Mary Berry's Baking Bible...


Madeira Cake
This is such a classic and one I can't believe that I have never baked before. The beautifully dense cake is one of my favourite afternoon treats. Loaf cakes are one of my favourite things to bake as they're just so simple. This was no exception to the rule. Just keep an eye on it as I feel like 30 minutes is a little too long to be in the oven. It cooks very quickly and I popped some tinfoil over it after 10 minutes. I'll definitely be rustling up a Madeira again.


Blueberry Muffins
Yet another classic. This American muffins are a great sweet treat for breakfast.Make sure you fill the cases up the top as they don't seem to rise as much as I think they should. It will help you get the 'muffin' look. The finished muffin is gorgeously light and perfectly tart, making it impossible to stop at just one. Another recipe I'll be making again. Can Mary Berry do any wrong?


Date and chocolate loaf
I had high expectations for this and mixed thoughts when I finally tasted it. The chocolate was a little bit non-existent but the date flavour was lovely. It tastes very similar to malt loaf and is made much better with a slick of salted butter. Everyone else raved about it so maybe it was just my fussy ways. I'm not sure I'll make this one again...


Maple syrup cake
I loved the maple syrup and orange combination of this cake. It had the perfect amount of sweetness. But I wasn't too keen on the American style frosting which was basically whipped double cream. Give me buttercream icing any day. Whilst I'm glad I tried this cake, it's not one I'm going to be adding to my regular list any time soon.


Irish soda bread
I'd never made any type of bread before having been easily intimidated. But I decided to try my hand at some soda bread as a treat for my Irish boyfriend. Despite forgetting to add the salt, I KNOW!, I added some salted butter and it actually tasted really nice. I imagine it'll taste even better when I remember to put in one of the most important ingredients. It was so, so simple to make and came out with such a gorgeous crust. I'll definitely be rustling up one of these on a regular basis.


Fruit scones
How can you go wrong with some scones? I've always made my scones from Mary Berry and they've always came out great. I alternative the type of fruit I use every time and each variation is tasty. The recipe never usually makes as many as she says it will so always double up. You can never have too many!

So my thoughts on Mary's baking bible? Like all the other Mary books I've tried, this is flawless. She just has a knack of producing really simple, traditional recipes that always come out trumps. I've yet to have a real disaster and another I haven't liked is just due to personal taste. She is always my go-to when it comes to a good classic cake. It's a great cookbook for a lazy Sunday afternoon of baking as you never have to concentrate too hard on a recipe. Another success from the Bezza! 
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Recipe: Thai-inspired red curry meatballs


Wing Yip kindly sent me over a hamper to help celebrate Healthy Eating Week which starts today. Thai-inspired food is always my first choice when I'm looking to lighten up my meals. They're so easy to pack with veggies, low-fat coconut milk makes it still feel naughty and I find the dishes always so filling. The basis of this dish was taken from an old favourite BBC Good Food.


Serves 4

Ingredients
500g of organic lean beef mince
1 small knob of ginger, grated
1 egg
1 tbsp of sunflower oil
1 tbsp Mai Siam Thai red curry paste*
1 can low-fat coconut milk
1 bag of sugar snap peas
1 bag of baby corn
1 red pepper
20g fresh basil plus a little to garnish
Juice of one lime plus one to cut into wedges to serve
1/2 pack of Chinese noodles*


Method
1. Put the mince in a large bowl with the grated ginger, egg and season generously. Mix together well and shape into meatballs. Put to one side.

2. Heat the sunflower oil in a large wok and brown the meatballs for five minutes. Transfer to a plate.

3. In the same pot, add the curry paste, fry for one minute before pouring in the can of coconut milk. Bring to the boil to help create a smooth sauce.

4. Pop all the vegetables in the pan for ten minutes then return the meatballs to the pan. Simmer for around five minutes until the vegetables are cooked and the meatballs are warmed through.

5. Bring a bowl of salted water to bowl before popping in the noodles for two minutes. Drain once cooked.

6.  To serve, squeeze in the lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Tear up the basil leaves before stiring through. Serve over the noodles.

As always I would love to know if you attempt the dish so please do send me a tweet.

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Recipe: Thai green meatballs


During this cold snap - although hopefully set to change! - there's nothing quite like a spicy curry to help blow the winter cobwebs away and put some hairs on your chest. A Thai curry is one of the ultimate comfort food dishes for me so when Heck got in touch to offer me the chance to try their new Thai bites veggie balls, it was a dish I immediately created. The delicious balls (lolz) are made from a tasty combination of Thai pesto, sweet potato and sticky rice making them vegan, dairy free and gluten free.

Feeds 2

Ingredients
1pack of Thai bites veggie balls*
1 can of half-fat coconut milk
1 lime, zest and juice
2 crushed cloves of garlic
A pinch of chilli flakes
2-3 teaspoons of Thai green curry pas (depending on how hot you like it)
1 pack of sugar snap peas
1 pack of mini corn
1 bunch of spring onions
1 tablespoon of olive oil




To serve
A bowl of brown rice - I used Uncle Ben's microwavable rice because I'm a lazy one

Method
1. Put the oil in a big casserole dish and cook the sugar snap peas and mini corn for about 5 minutes.

2. Add the crushed garlic and spring onions before cooking for a further 5 minutes.

3. Put in the coconut milk, veggie balls and chilli flakes. Give it a good stir for a couple of minutes.

4. Add the paste, give the mixture stir and bring to the boil. Once boiling, cook for about 10-12 minutes on a high heat. Keep stirring to ensure nothing sticks to the base of the pan.

5.  Spilt the rice between two bowls and serve the curry.

As always let me know if you make it and tweet me a picture. Happy cooking!

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Three places you should eat in Derry

We were last in Derry over three years ago and the food scene has completely evolved in such as short amount of time. It looks to have become such a foodie place with a massive emphasis on using local ingredients. There are so many different places we were dying to try out but sadly we couldn't fit them all in which means we're just going to have to book a trip back next year. These are my three favourite restaurants we managed to try.



Blackbird
Pyke N Pommes seems to be a Derry institution and the food truck is based along the Quay. But they've recently started serving their food in the Blackbird pub so you don't have to eat your burger in the rain! As soon as I glanced at the menu I knew I was going to opt for the Legendary burger with a side of crispy sweet potato fries. The burger was a little too well done for my liking but it was still absolutely delicious. The Wagyu beef patty topped with addictive pickled red onions, american cheese, juicy tomatoes and fresh lettuce. A beast to eat and I had to cut it in half to try and eat it ladylike...We also went back a separate time for a drink so I can recommend the gin selection too. It always makes me happy when I spot a bottle of Sipsmith on my travels to remind me of home!



The Grillroom restaurant at Di Vinci's
We were lucky enough to be invited by the Visit Derry tourist board to enjoy a meal at Di Vinci's hotel. Thank you to you both! Offering a traditional menu, we tried their new Spring dishes. I had a yummy tomato bruschetta to start. Piled high with fresh chopped tomatoes and drizzled with a green pesto sauce, it was the perfect introduction to the menu. I couldn't get enough of the parmesan chips that came with the main course - I could have eaten at least two bowls! A more detailed review is coming within the next few weeks so keep an eye out.



Harry's
I have been desperate to make it to Harry's Shack in Portstewart for about a year and was all booked in to finally tick it off the list. But on the Thursday before we were due to be in Derry, the brand opened a new restaurant in the city. Five minutes walk from our hotel. It was fate so I quickly canceled the Portstewart one and booked us in the Derry one. It was absolutely incredible. Specialising in seafood, I opted for the Lemon Sole for my main with a side of the creamiest mash I've ever tasted. The deconstructed lemon and blackberry meringue was just the ticket to finish off one of the best meals I've had.  I would go back in a heartbeat and it's top of my list next time I'm back in the city.
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Recipe: sweet potato and chickpea vegetarian stew


I'm trying to make a conscious decision to eat less meat and adapted some of my cookbooks to be vegetarian. I find it encourages me to be a lot more adventurous with my meals as it's so easy to just go for meat, potatoes and veggies. I omitted the chicken from the original recipe and bulked it up with more beans and vegetables. It was delicious and even better the next day when I had the leftovers for lunch. Definitely something I'd rustle up again.

Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson's Chicken Cosimo

Feeds 6

Ingredients
2 sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of plain flour
1 bag of chopped butternut squash
1 can of butterbeans
1 can of chickpeas
1 large onion
500ml of vegetable stock
1 pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1 teaspoon of sweet paprika



Method
1. Pour the olive oil into a large casserole dish and cook the chopped onion until soft but not quite browned.

2. Stir in all the spices and flour before popping in the sweet potato and butternut squash. Cook for ten minutes.

3. Pour in the chicken stock and give it a good stir. Bring it to the boil.

4. Once boiled, add the drained chickpeas and butterbeans. Give it another stir.

5. Pop the lid on and put it in the oven for around 25 minutes until the sweet potato is tender.

6. Take out the oven and leave it for ten minutes with the lid still on. Then serve. I enjoyed it with some crusty bread.

As always I would love to know what you all think and do send me a tweet with a picture if you make it!

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Join in with the Great British Bake Off


GBBO seems to have gripped the nation again and taken over my Wednesday night. Again. It's given me the baking bug and I've been back in the kitchen after a bit of time away. Whenever I put aside the time to rustle something up, I always wish I make more of an effort. I love looking on the internet and seeing what type of recipes are out there. As well as my 50+ cookbooks... But sometimes I just go back to some of my favourites.

The Apple cider cake above is always a crowd pleaser. It has a great sweet taste and the added cider makes it so light and fluffy which is what you're always looking out for in a cake. If you fancy something a little bit more fruity then this coconut and lime loaf will be a winner. Taken from one of my favourite cookbook author Levi Roots,  the extra lime glaze helps to give it a bit more of a zing - which is always a good thing!


Not all baking treats are for those who have a sweet tooth. These savoury breakfast bars are great to make on a sunday and have throughout the week - much healthier than grabbing a bacon butty at the train station. They're substantial and really filling so won't make you reach for the biscuit barrel before lunchtime.


Finally if you want to make a showstopper then this ultimate chocolate cake is the one to attempt. The lashings of white and chocolate milk buttons paired with creamy milk chocolate fingers, makes it a chocoholic's dream. Set aside a good few hours over a lazy weekend for this one as it's no mean feat. But when the outcome is the below, you really don't mind putting the hard graft in!


Let me know some of your favourite bakes to make as I'm always on the look out for some new ideas! And some new blogs to drool over! If you run out of time to make your own creations, head to the Biscuiteer's discount page to to enter a completion - it ends on 23rd September.
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Recipe: cous cous, rocket and feta salad with harissa dressing


I've only recently become a salad convert. I used to avoid them like a plague but I think I just hadn't experimented much. Warm vegetables, cous cous or pasta, leaves and a good dressing is what works for me. A little bit of cheese makes everything ten times better too! Lakeland sent me a handy Kilner salad on the go airtight jar. With a small metal cup that slots in the top, it's the perfect trick to combat a soggy salad. No more sacrifices for lunch at work!


Ingredients:
1/2 bag of mixed salad leaves
100g sweetcorn
50g cous cous
100g feta cheese

For the dressing:
1/2 teaspoon of harissa paste
A pinch of sea salt
3 tablespoons of olive oil


Method:

1. Cook the sweetcorn in a pan with boiling hot water. This should take about 10 minutes. Let it cool down.

2. Cook the cous cous according to packet instructions. Let it cool down.

3. Layer the heaviest items first. So start with the cous cous then the sweetcorn, and salad leaves.

4. Put the chopped feta cheese in a separate tub.

5. To make the dressing, mix all three ingredients together and pour into the silver dish that slots into the top of the jar.

It couldn't be simpler! It's a really filling salad for a work lunch - the salty feta cheese and spicy harissa work perfectly together. As always, I'd love to know if you make it so please do tweet me.


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Recipe: grilled avocado barley bowl with Lakeland


Lakeland got in touch to see if I wanted to try out the new Davina McCall range and test them out with a recipe. Always one for kitchen equipment, I said yes and soon a parcel arrived. Consisting of a pair of kitchen scissors, crinkle cutter, grater, peeler and a pairing knife, they were the perfect addition to my kitchen. I decided it was time to try out a recipe from one my favourite cookbooks at the minute, A Modern Way To Cook by Anna Phillips - the recipe called for most of the items to be used. So what did I think? I loved the bright colours as I think aesthetics are everything in a kitchen, they felt sturdy to withhold my clumsiness and were simple and quick to use whilst preparing a meal. Who has time for complicated equipment on a week night? The price point is great too - good quality at a really reasonable price.



Serves 2 with leftovers for lunch

Ingredients
1 large avocado
300g pearl barley
1/2 bag of baby spinach
50g chopped walnuts
Zest and juice of one lemon
100g feta cheese
200ml plain fat free Greek yogurt
A handful of roughly chopped fresh basil
A few pinches of sea salt
A pinch of black pepper



Method
1. Rinse the pearl barley under cold water then boil it in a saucepan. Include a good pinch of sea salt, the juice of half a lemon before putting the squeezed lemon half into the pan too. Cook for around 25 minutes.

2. Cut the avocados in half - leaving the skin on but discarding the stone. Put them cut side down in a griddle pan and cook until they have black griddle marks.

3. To make the yogurt sauce, mix the chopped basil leaves with the zest and juice of the remaining half a lemon. Add a good pinch of sea salt and pepper for some extra flavouring.

4. Wilt the spinach in a frying pan.

5. Once the pearl barley is cooked, drain away the water and crumble in the feta cheese and chopped walnuts. Add the wilted spinach to the dish and mix it all together.

6. Divide between two bowls - remembering to keep some aside for lunch leftovers! Top with the grilled avocado and spoon on the yogurt mix.

As always I'd love to know if you try this recipe out, drop me a tweet to let me know!


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Recipe: Thai vegetable curry soup


Thai is fast becoming my favourite type of food to eat. It's always so quick to cook, packs a punch with the flavours and lets vegetables take centre stage. So when I found a Thai curry paste in the selection that Goldfish Sauces sent over, I knew I wanted to make some kind of soup. Packed full of my favourite veggies, it tasted quite similar to a red Thai curry. It was the perfect fresh, light summer dish for a warm evening.


Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 pack of rice noodles
1 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 aubergine
A bunch of spring onions
1 pack of baby sweetcorn
1/2 of sugar snap peas
60g Goldfish sauces Thai Curry paste*
1 can of reduced fat coconut milk
1 litre of vegetable stock
A handful of chopped basil


Method
1. Heat up the olive oil in a large wok and place all the veg in it. Cook for around ten minutes.

2. Once tender, add the stock, curry paste and the coconut milk. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the chopped basil.

4. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the packet instructions.

4. Once cooked, divide the noodles between four bowls. Then spoon in the broth before dividing the vegetables equally.

5. It's as simple at that! Tuck in and enjoy!

As always, let me know what you think or if you made it via a tweet. I'd love to know!


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A Essex based lifestyle blogger who lives a champagne life on a lemonade purse!

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sophie.warner89@yahoo.co.uk.

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