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  1. Enchiladas Verdes

    August 31, 2014 by Lisa

    This dish was a slight revelation for me as I’d neither made it, nor indeed, eaten it, so was dependent on my own tastes and a variety of recipes, both online and in my various cookbooks.

    Salsa Verde is made with tomatillos, a small green fruit that looks a bit like a small, green tomato and a bit like a large gooseberry. Interestingly, whilst a member of the nightshade family, like tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant/aubergine, it is more closely related to the Cape Gooseberry than the tomato. And whilst the tartness reminds me of a gooseberry, it’s apparently not related to it at all. Moving on…

    This is a recipe for chicken enchiladas verdes, and is as easy as enchiladas get. You will need a couple of things not generally available in the UK: a large (24 oz) can of tomatillos and white corn tortillas.. Both can be found at Queso de Chihuahua is also recommended, but a mild Chedder would also do well enough. Makes enough for four.

    5 or 6 chicken thighs in an oven-proof container, sprinkled liberally with
    Ancho chili powder (or similar)
    And a splash of olive oil

    Salsa verde:
    24 oz can tomatillos in their liquid
    2 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped finely
    Half an onion, chopped
    6 or 7 pieces of jalapeño, to taste and chopped
    Chicken broth cube

    Queso de chihuahua, grated, for the top

    Place the chicken thighs and herbs in the oven proof dish and sprinkle with a bit of olive oil. Place in a 200 degree oven and cook until done – about 25 minutes – turning once or twice.

    Fry the onions and garlic in a little oil until soft and place in a saucepan with the jalapeños, tomatillos and their liquid. Crush the stock cube into the pan and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes and let cool. Put the contents into a blender and blend until smooth. Make a roux with a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of flour and slowly add the blended tomatillo mixture in until thickened. Coat the bottom of a casserole dish with the sauce.

    Drain the chicken. The chickens grease can be added to the tomatillo sauce if you like. Shred the chicken.

    Place 10 corn tortillas in the microwave for 1 minute to soften them (healthier than frying them in oil). Roll some chicken and a tablespoon of salsa verde into each tortilla and place side by side in the casserole dish. Cover with more salsa verde (you’ll have quite a lot left over) and sprinkle liberally with the grated cheese. Heat in a 200 degree oven for 20-30 minutes. Top with sour cream, or creme fraiche and chopped coriander (cilantro) and serve with Mexican rice.

  2. Amaretti Tiramisu

    May 4, 2014 by Lisa

    A nice twist on the classic Italian dessert. This is a small quantity suitable for 4 to 6 people.

    250 g mascarpone
    2 eggs
    35g caster sugar
    Amaretti biscuits
    tablespoon tia maria
    tablespoon Amaretto
    1/3 cup strong coffee
    Dark cocoa powder

    Separate eggs. Whip the whites until stiff then set aside. Beat the yolks and sugar until pale yellow. Blend in the mascarpone until smooth, then gently mix in the whites, being careful not to overmix.

    Combine the coffee, Tia Maria, and Amaretto in a shallow dish and soak the Amaretti biscuits for a few minutes. Put two layers of biscuits in the bottom of a small dish, then top with the mascarpone mixture. Smooth the top and dust liberally with cocoa powder.

    Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

  3. Enchilada sauce take 2

    February 23, 2014 by Lisa

    I don’t always follow my own recipes and do a lot of ad hoc cooking, so last night I did chicken enchiladas, and loved the sauce so much, I want to try to repeat it. Not sure if it was the quality of the peppers, or simply the simplicity of the recipe. You can find the original recipe here, but I like this one much better:

    4 Ramiro (large long red) Peppers
    1 tblsp Ground Cumin
    1 cup Chicken stock + some reserved chicken grease from cooking the chicken thighs as per the previous recipe
    2 tablespoons flour mixed in water to make a paste

    Slice the peppers and remove the seeds and tops. Roast in a 200C oven until fragrant and slightly blistered. Remove and let cool. Put the peppers in a blender with the rest of the ingredients. Blend well. Pour into a largish saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes until slightly thickened.

    If you like your sauce hotter, roast a few red chilis with the peppers and add them too.

  4. Nutty rice stuffed peppers

    February 10, 2014 by Lisa

    I threw this together, so the quantities are pretty much approximate! This is a small amount, suitable for two.


    4 small sweet red and orange peppers, cleaned and cut in half
    2 baby onions, chopped
    Tablespoon of olive oil
    1/2 cup brown basmati rice
    1 cup vegetable broth
    Handful of mixed sunflower, pumpkin and pine nuts
    Parmesan cheese to taste – I used about 50g

    Cook the onions in a skillet with hot oil until soft, then add the rice and mix until coated in oil. Add the vegetable broth, lower the heat and cover for about 30 minutes.

    Meanwhile, place the peppers under a grill for about 10 minutes and remove until the rice is cooked.

    When the rice is soft, mix in the nuts and cheese and stuff the pepper halves with the mixture. Cook under the grill until browned and crunchy on top.

    Would work with loads of other ingredients. Some chili and coriander or maybe spinach and feta instead of the Parmesan?

  5. Eating differently

    February 10, 2014 by Lisa

    I’ve been experimenting with diets lately. Not the weight loss type, though the successful one brought me down 10 pounds in a couple weeks. No, I’ve been trying to feel better and to feel better about the food I’m eating. A friend and I did a detox over January and it has radically changed the way I eat going forward.

    The detox meant no meat, added sugar, salt, wheat, dairy, alcohol or caffeine and since it ended, I’ve entirely lost my will to eat wheat or sugar, meat might feature once or twice a month and dairy is now mostly milk in a single coffee a day, some butter or Parmesan and a lot of goats cheese.

    Importantly, I feel so much better and I’ve learned to love a lot of interesting, tasty new foods.

  6. Perfectly Simple Hollandaise for Two

    December 25, 2013 by Lisa

    Whenever I make hollandaise sauce, I find that I make way too much. I’ve also messed it up a few times as it’s a bit of a pfaff. This recipe is apparently from McGees on Cooking and is as easy as it gets.


    • 2 egg yolks
    • 125g cold butter
    • 1/8 of a lemon
    • 1 tablespoon water

    Place the egg yolks, water and butter in a small saucepan over low heat and whisk constantly. Don’t let up or leave it. When the butter is melted, turn the heat up to medium and continue to whisk until thickened, squeeze in lemon to taste and add some salt and white pepper (black pepper is just as tasty, but less traditional and not quite as pretty). Serve immediately or keep warm in a thermos.

    Job done. Perfectly silky, delicious and just the right amount for two eggs Benedict or two generous portions of asparagus.

  7. Fast day Cocido de Gambas & brown Mexican rice

    July 1, 2013 by Lisa

    Fast days can be a challenge, but when you have a hearty meal like this to look forward to, it becomes much easier. And at less than 300 calories, it makes it even easier still.

    Cocido de Gambas (82 calories per serving – serves 4)

    • 800 ml liter vegetable broth (it’s easy to make from scratch, so don’t bother with a stock cube)
    • 200g pointed cabbage
    • 2 medium carrots
    • 50g white mushrooms
    • 100g large King Prawns
    • 1 fresh red chili pepper, sliced
    • Juice of half a lemon
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Slice the cabbage into large slices, the carrots into large chunks and the mushrooms in half. Cook the carrots, mushrooms and cabbage until tender, add the red pepper and prawns and cook until the prawns are red. Squeeze the lemon and add salt and pepper.

    Brown Mexican Rice (212 calories per serving, serves 4)

    • 200g Wholegrain brown rice
    • 1 liter boiling water, with one chicken stock cube
    • 2 teaspoons tomato puree
    • half a medium onion, chopped
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion and cook until soft. Add the rice and cook for a minute or so. Add the tomato puree and stock. Cover and cook until tender, adding additional water if needed. It should take about 25-35 minutes.

  8. fast day foods

    June 28, 2013 by Lisa

    Until about 2 years ago, I never dieted a day in my life. I was one of those people whose metabolism just seemed to keep me at one weight consistently. I only lost weight if I was ill, but never gained anything more than I was when I was 18. Sadly, this is no longer true. So, a few months ago I tried to shift those extra pounds by restricting my calorie intake to 1200 per day and getting a bit more exercise.

    But I found it was shockingly hard to do. I could stay under once or twice, but generally I’d go over. Sometimes by a hundred or so, but often by several hundred. It only took a pint of Guinness.

    Recently I read about intermittent fasting via the 5:2 Fast Diet. With this you eat normally 5 days a week, but for 2 days, you restrict your calories to a measly 500 (600 for men). I won’t go on about it – go to the website, read the book, do a search online. It’s a good idea, based on good science and I’m just starting to try it now. I’m only on Fast Day 4, but I’ve seen good results already. The fast days are pretty easy and my “feast days” are actually less calorie filled than normal. I’ve lost 3 pounds in a week and a half and already feel better. I’ve also given up bread for the most part (OK, not entirely).

    Eating only 500 calories a day means making those calories count and I’m also enjoying the challenge of coming up with tasty, filling and healthy meals. When I come up with something new, I’ll post it here, along with calorie counts. The other 5 days a week, I’ll be pulling from my other calorie-filled recipes without guilt or calorie counting.

    Wish me luck and hope you enjoy the recipes!

  9. Carne Asada

    October 29, 2012 by Lisa

    This was my dad’s favourite dish, and it’s become a family favourite now as well. Carne Asada uses skirt steak, a quite magical bit of meat that you may have to buy from a butcher as it’s not generally sold in the packaged meats sections of the supermarket.

    Cut from the lower plate on top of the ribs, skirt is one of the cheapest and most flavourful cuts of beef, ‘though certainly not the most tender so Carne Asada is a perfect way to make the most of it. It’s a great recipe for parties (of dedicated carnivores) as you can easily feed 4 people for not much more than £5.


    • A cut of skirt steak (1 kilo for 4 people, depending on the accompaniments)
    • 4 or more fresh red or jalepeno chilis
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • Juice of 2 or 3 limes
    • 1/4 cup vinegar
    • a good handful of fresh chopped or 3 tablespoons of dried oregano
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Place the steak in a large casserole or lasagna pan, cover with the marinade and leave for 2 to 6 hours.

    Carne Asada is best and most traditional on the barbeque and even in the winter is well worth dragging it out from the shed. Otherwise, fry it in a grill pan. It’s important that it’s served rare, as overcooking will make it tough. You can tell it’s rare by giving it a little push with the side of a fork or your finger – it will still be soft and slightly “wobbly”.

    Slice the meat in long thin pieces across the grain and serve with flour torillas, guacamole, pico de gallo, mexican rice and beans. Serve cheese enchiladas as well t o make it go further.

  10. Red Beans and Rice

    September 11, 2012 by Lisa

    We haven’t added a new dish to our daily repertoire in ages, but this one is definitely on the list!

    Red Beans and Rice is possibly Louisiana’s most famous dish after gumbo and was traditionally a Monday meal, using the bones from the Sunday ham as its base. My version doesn’t use the ham bone or hock as they’re not that easy to get here so somewhat lacks the smokey taste. I also can’t abide green peppers so use sweet red peppers instead. And finally, an authentic dish also features Andouille sausage but there’s no chance of getting that in England! Nevertheless, it’s full of flavour, easy to make and cheap as chips.


    • 4 pork shoulder steaks
    • 2 cans kidney beans
    • 6 cups water
    • 1 chopped sweet red Romano chili pepper (the large ones)
    • 1 cup finely chopped celery
    • Half a large onion, finely chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic – minced
    • 1 tsp dried oregano
    • 1 tsp dried chili flake
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Brown the steaks in a little oil in a large pot, add the chopped vegetables, herbs and water and bring to a boil. reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 and a half to 2 hours until the meat is very tender and can be shredded easily.

    Drain the beans and add to the pot and cook another 45 minutes. The liquid should be quite thick rather than brothy, so you may need to keep the lid off or even raise the heat to get the water to reduce.

    Serve over white rice! Corn bread is the perfect accompaniment but we also like to eat it with white corn tortillas because we’re like that.

    And just to prove what an inspiration this dish is, a poem from my friend Louise:

    Victor Hernández Cruz, Red Beans

    Next to white rice
    it looks like coral
    sitting next to snow

    Hills of starch
    The burnt sienna
    of irony
    Azusenas being chased by
    the terra cotta feathers
    of a rooster
    There is a lava flow
    through the smoking
    white mounds

    India red
    spills on ivory

    Ochre cannon balls
    next to blanc pebbles

    Red beans and milk
    make burgundy wine

    Violet pouring
    from the eggshell
    tinge of the plate.