a little of wat you fancy..

A little of wat you fancy does you good, or at least that is what my Gran always said. I am a 20 something culinary enthusiast with a huge cook book collection that has been sat on the shelf for way too long. I started this blog in 2011 when I decided to cook 1 new recipe each week be it from a book, a friend, a tv program or some other inspiration.

It was a great way to try new recipes and after having a year of living in Australia I found that I used my blog as a recipe book on more than one occasion so decided to start this up again!

I want to challenge my food rut and hopefully help inspire other people along the way who want to do the same.

Also I do realise 'wat' is missing a 'h' I really wanted the name and the properly spelt way was taken, hense the slight alteration!

NB Please note that all rights are reserved to any photography displayed on this blog
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Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you had a great time over the festive period! When I was in Australia I spent some time exploring a deli called Jones’ in Paddington, Sydney. They had a book there called ‘Saha’ by Greg and Lucy Malouf which has an amazing array of Syrian and Lebanese recipes. I had never cooked Syrian food or eaten it for that matter until I visited an amazingly kept secret in the eastern suburbs. I visited a restaurant called Almond in Darlinghurst for my birthday which blew my mind and since then I have been keen to cook more Syrian style food. I found this recipe in Saha and made a few personal changes as not all the ingredients were available to me.

Musakhan Spicy Chicken baked with spinach, chickpea and pine nuts

Ingredients - Serves 4

Chicken Marinade

·         8 chicken thighs

·         2 cloves garlic crushed with pinch of salt

·         1 tsp cinnamon

·         2 tsp cumin

·         1 tsp ground black pepper

·         2 tbsp olive oil

Rest of the dish

·         40 ml olive oil

·         2 onions finely grated

·         1 ½ tsp cinnamon

·         1 tsp nutmeg

·         3 tsp sumac

·         500g bag of baby spinach washed

·         150g chickpeas, drained and washed

·         300ml chicken stock

·         Juice of 1 lemon

·         150g pine nuts

·         Baking paper and string

·         Yoghurt and toasted sourdough to serve

·         Salt and pepper

Method

1.       Mix the garlic, spices and olive oil of the marinade and rub on the chicken. Leave in a cool place to marinade for 1-2 hours.

2.       Pre heat the oven to 200c, gas mark 4. In the meantime put the chickpeas in a bowl and crush them slightly with a potato masher or fork. Heat 2/3 of the oil in a non stick pan and sauté the onions and garlic until they are soft and the liquid has evaporated. Add the spices and stir in well. Add the spinach to the pan and then the squished chickpeas ten add half the stock. Turn up the heat and boil for 5 minutes or until the stock has evaporated.

3.       Put the pine nuts in a dry frying pan and heat until they go slightly golden.

4.       Remove the spinach dish from the heat and add the toasted pine nuts and lemon juice. Set aside in a bowl until needed.

5.       Add  the remaining olive oil to the now empty spinach pan and heat up until the oil is hot. Add in the chicken thighs skin side down and place a piece of baking paper over the pan to prevent splash back. Cook until the skin is golden and then turn over so that the meat is seared on all sides.

6.       Cut up 4 pieces of baking paper, roughly 30cm square. Place a few table spoons of the spinach mixture in the middle of the paper and then two pieces of chicken on top. Gather the sides of the paper together and tie into a bag using string. Place on an oven try and bake for 30-40 minutes carefully checking first that the chicken is no longer pink. If necessary cook for a further 10 minutes.

7.       When the chicken is in the oven, return the remaining spinach to the now empty chicken pan with the remaining stock. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes on a gentle heat.

8.       Present individual parcels and serve with toasted sourdough, yoghurt and the remaining spinach.

Mum’s Spaghetti Bolognaise (with a twist)

I think I have been making a basic vegetarian tomato pasta sauce since I was a tot as it is family favourite and usually involves using up as many vegetables as possible in the house. However last week my mum suggested I put some TVP in it. TVP is ‘textured vegetable protein’ which is basically dried soya which when reconstituted has the same texture as quorn although darker in colour. It adds extra protein to your meal to make it a bit more hearty which is great in the winter. I have never cooked with it before and was surprised at how it really added to the meal.

Ingredients  - Serves 3

·         1 onion diced

·         1 clove of garlic chopped

·         3 carrots peeled and dice

·         1 red pepper deseeded and chopped

·         3 sticks of celery sliced

·         Half a small pumpkin, peeled and diced

·         1 cup of TVP – plus seasoning eg Worcestershire sauce, Marmite

·         Wholegrain spaghetti

·         1 tin of chopped tomatoes

·         1 vegetable oxo cube

·         Tomato puree

·         Fresh thyme

·         Dried basil

·         Olive oil

·         Salt and Pepper 

Method

1.       First things first the TVP needs to reconstitute so put it in a bowl, add enough boiling water to cover it and season with strong flavours such as Worcestershire sauce , a heaped teaspoon of Marmite and some salt and pepper.

2.       Whilst that is reconstituting chop up all your vegetables. Preheat your oven to gas mark 6/220c and put the pumpkin in a roasting tray with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Leave that to soften for 20 minutes in the oven.

3.       Meanwhile heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. Add in the garlic, onion, herbs of choice (I went for fresh thyme and dried basil but see what you have, the flavours you like).

4.       Once the onion has softened add in your vegetables (I used celery, carrot and red pepper but the beauty of this dish is you can just use up whatever you have available). Allow the vegetable to soften and then stir in the reconstituted TVP, crumble in the oxo cube, add a few tablespoons of tomato puree and the can of tomatoes. Stir in the roasted pumpkin, season with salt and pepper then add in some boiled water if the mixture needs loosening.

5.       Allow the sauce to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables have cooked.

6.       In the meantime cook the pasta and serve together with some parmesan and some torn up herbs.

I have recently returned to the UK after a year in Australia where I was incredibly inspired by the fresh food, completely different breeds of fish and the style of outdoor cooking.

So much so I came back with several cook books and lots of enthusiasm. I also realised whilst I was there that I used my blog as a mobile cookery book as a lot of my favourite recipes are on here.

Consequently it has made me want to take up the challenge of a new receipe a week again as I don’t want to slip back into that food rut!

So same deal as before, I will try out one new recipe a week whether it is made up, inspired by a friend, book, TV or other and post the results! If any one has requests as well let me know.

Until then Happy Cooking!

Well I made it to Australia and had my first hot Christmas which is really weird but it has been a fantastic experience so far. I have been bad with the one recipe a week resolution since I arrived as making new recipes requires my own kitchen and a bit of planning which hasn’t always been possible. So here are two recipes I did over Christmas as a means of a catch up for the 6 weeks I missed…oops!

I had a few people to get present for so I decided to make chutney for all my relations. My sister gave a foolproof quick to make recipe which I used and has gone down a treat. It is ready straight away and this recipe makes about 6 jars.

Nai’s Red Onion Chutney

Ingredients

  • 1kg red onions
  • 150g stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar (castor)
  • 2 tsp salt and same of pepper
  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Method

1)    Peel and slice onions thinly.

2)    Melt butter and hold your nerve until it becomes deep brown nut colour, careful not to burn though.

3)    Chuck in onions salt sugar and pepper. Stir well and then simmer for about 30 mins covered, keep an eye it doesn’t catch.

4)    Add rest of stuff and cook another 30 mins stirring regularly. Cook gently, don’t reduce too much and you can skim off excess butter that floats to top when it cools.

5)    Put into clean jars that have been blasted in the microwave for 2 mins on high then allowed to cool.

6)    Let the mixture completely cool before fastening the lids. Present with material covering the lid and a label.

Next is the figgy puddings! These are a relly cute idea that looks good, is relatively simple albeit a little fiddly. We had a big Christmas carols party at the family’s home I am staying so naturally gave people a hand in the kitchen. Anyway we made these to go out on Christmas Eve and they went down really well.

Figgy puddings

Ingredients

  • A pack of teacakes (the marshmallow chocolate covered biscuits)
  • White chocolate
  • Strawberry liquorish or some other red confectionary item
  • Green gummy sweets like snakes etc

Method

1)    Take the teacakes out and put them on a tray in the fridge so that they are nice and cool. In the meantime melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan with hot water in it.

2)    Take a sharp knife or scissors and trim really small pieces off the green gummy sweet which you’ll use later as leaves. Roll up the strawberry liquorish into balls for the berries.

3)    Let the melted chocolate cool slightly then put into a piping bag and then bring out the cold teacakes piping on the chocolate so that it looks like icing. Be warned the piping bag will probably get very hot.

4)    Before the icing has cooled assemble the berries and green leaves then place in the fridge again to cool. Serve when you are ready!

 

So this was my final week in the country for a while as I am off to Australia for a year for a bit of an adventure. Rest assured I’ll continue with the blog when I can, bringing you exciting recipes from across the pond. This week me and the boyfriend attempted Nasi Goreng which is an Indonesian rice dish we both love. We did look for recipes online but didn’t find anything we thought was right so ended up making a lot of it up. It worked fantastically and was a great way to spend an evening.

As with any dish make sure you make it to your tastes so taste as you go along and add more or put in less ingredients to get it right for you!

Nasi Goreng

Ingredients

  • Cooked rice (enough for 2)
  • 200g meat of your choice (we used pork)
  • 150g large prawns
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Red chilli (we used 2 large ones but it depends on your spice level)
  • 1 1/2 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 1 tsp whole coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 1/2 inch fresh ginger
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • Vegetables to your taste (we used baby sweetcorn, sugarsnap peas and purple sprouting and if you want to make it vegetarian just omit the meat)
  • Pickled ginger, fresh coriander and lime to garnish

Method

  1. First make the paste so add 1/3 of the onion, garlic cloves, chilli, shrimp paste, turmeric, peppercorns, coriander, soy, brown sugar, lime juice, ginger and 2 tablespoons of sesame oil to a mixture or pestle and mortar and wizz/grind into a paste.
  2. Then in a large wok/pan heat a tablespoon of the oil and add in the meat and prawns with a few tablespoons of paste, fry until cooked through.
  3. Next add the remaining onion and other vegetables with another tablespoon of the paste and a few tablespoons of water to make sure the mixture stays a little moist.
  4. After a 5 minutes cooking the vegetables stir in the rice with the remaining paste. Keep stirring until the rice is coated in the paste and is piping hot.
  5. Make sure you try the mixture before serving to ensure it is how you want it then serve by pressing the rice down into a bowl then place a plate on top of the bowl and turn then both upside down. Shake it slightly so that the rice releases from the sides.
  6. Garnish with some lime and pickled ginger at the side with some fresh coriander on top.
  7. Enjoy! 

I have been crashing at my boyfriends a lot recently and thought it was about time that I cooked a meal to say thank you. I went to the local ASDA to see what I could get inspired by and found a big bag of mussels on the fish counter for £3.50!! I couldn’t resist and thought I would do the French dish ‘Moules et Frites’ which basically is white wine and garlic mussels with French fries although you can also serve it with French bread if you would prefer.

I am always a bit nervous about cooking mussels as food poisoning is always a worry. However if you make sure it is a fresh batch, are careful when you clean the mussels to discard and suspect mussels and if you listen to the old wives tale my mum told me and only buy them when there is a ‘r’ in the month then you should be set!

This recipe is my Dad’s and is always a tasty addition to any table especially if you want to cater for a large group as it is a no fuss recipe. Enjoy!

Moules et Frites

Ingredients – serves 2

  • 1kg fresh mussels
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 sticks of celery sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic (or more if you want it super garlicy)
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1-2 glasses of wine
  • 1/2 lemon juice (1/2 lemon for garnish)
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • French fries or French bread to serve

Method

  1. First things first you need to prepare the mussels. Normally when bought from a supermarket they will be pretty clean but you need to go through each one and scrape off any barnacles, pull off the ‘beards’ and making sure you discard any that are cracked or stay open after you tap them.
  2. Fresh mussels look black, shiny and should only pleasantly smell of the sea. The majority should be closed or if they have been in the fridge they will be sleepy so may be open but a quick tap on the shell should see them close. Discard any that smell really ‘fishy’, look dry or are mostly open. Keep them in the fridge until you are ready for them.
  3. Heat the butter in a large saucepan, add the garlic and onions until they have softened. Add in the celery and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Add in the cleaned mussels, white wine, lemon juice and add a lot of pepper and a pinch of salt. Put the lid on the saucepan and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes, shaking the pan every few minutes to allow the mussels to move around in the saucepan.
  4. Check after 10 minutes and if they aren’t done cook until the mussels are open wide and have gone a bit pink/orange in colour. Serve in bowls with fries or bread and a chunk of lemon. Make you have a bowl to put the shells in.
  5. Get stuck in!!

Again this starts with another apology. I have still being doing one recipe each week (promise) however as I have moved house and am getting ready to go to Australia I haven’t always had as much time to blog.

Not to worry it is time to catch up now! It was my Dad’s birthday earlier this month and we thought we’d mark the occasion with some tasty food. Lidle do a fantastic deal on festive occasions where they have a whole cooked and frozen lobster for £5. I was also in ASDA the other day and they also have whole frozen lobster for around £7. We cooked lobster thermidor years ago so this was only the second time I had attempted a lobster dish.

As it was already cooked it was a case of waiting for the lobster to thaw and then extracting all the tasty flesh. If you don’t know how to do this look it up on google or some fish books have it in.  That said I do talk you through it in the recipe too so don’t worry. This is a Caribbean recipe from Rusty Lee’s ‘A taste of the Caribbean’. Hope you like it.

Lobster Sea Breeze

Ingredients – serves 2

  • I lobster cooked (if it is small add some king prawns, this makes it go further)
  • 1 onion diced
  • 5 tomatoes diced
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
  • 1 chilli pepper diced (use as much chilli as you are comfortable with)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 fl oz single cream
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Freshly crushed black pepper
  • 5 thyme springs (leaving some for decoration)
  • Rice and salad to serve

Method

  1. Firstly you need to get the meat off the lobster. Take a sharp knife and cut the lobster through from the head to the tail keeping the shell in tact if possible as this is used to serve. Swill out the clean shells with cold water and set aside.
  2. Remove the flesh (omitting the gills and intestines which are darker) and then break the lobster claws and remove the meat. Break the flesh up into chunks and set aside.
  3. In a saucepan heat the oil, sauté the onion and garlic. Add in the tomatoes, thyme (except a few springs for garnish) and chilli. If you don’t like a lot of spice then discard the chilli seeds. Let this simmer and reduce slightly and you can add a few tablespoons of tomato paste if you want it super tomatoey.
  4. Add in the chopped lobster meat and prawns. Allow the meat to heat through and the prawns to cook before adding the single cream. Cook for a further 5 minutes and sprinkle in the pepper.
  5. Put the tomato lobster sauce back in the shells and garnish with thyme. Serves with rice and salad.

Sorry I haven’t posted on here in a while. I have been rather preoccupied what with moving house, finishing my job an d then going to Greece for a friends wedding! No rest for the wicked and so consequently I haven’t been sat still long enough to post. I am now back at my family home for a few weeks and wanted to show you what I got up to last week.

One of my best friends got married last week to a fantastic guy and as a wedding present myself and my friend offered to make their wedding cake. We used the Hummingbird basic cake recipe I have already posted on here and made a huge lemon cupcake for the top then chocolate and vanilla cupcakes. We baked and decorated them out there and were pretty pleased with the result after 7 hours of baking!

However as with most things it wasn’t plain sailing and unfortunately the ‘fridge’ we put the cake in at the restaurant whilst we had the meal on the wedding day malfunctioned and turned into an oven. Consequently there was a slight situation with the main cake partially melting (!).

Luckily my friend was there whilst I was panicking, rolled up her sleeves and said “I work in conservation I can do this” (she does textile conservation) and set to work in the restaurant kitchen re icing the base whilst I re piped some of the icing on top. 

I was very happy for a glass of wine once we were done and the bride and groom loved it so that was the main thing. Nevertheless it still looked great in the end and here are the pictures to prove it!

This is my final week at my current address so I went round to some friends who live just round the corner for one last meal. I can never turn up empty handed so when they said they were cooking for everyone I offered to make a pudding. My boyfriend also came along and I had promised him a long time ago to make a Baked Alaska as it combines two of his favourite sweet things = cake and ice cream. I had made this before with my mum so this time I made it solo and I was mostly please with the meringue on top as it was crunchy on the edge and gooey in the middle perfect.

The other thing with a Baked Alaska is that because it melts you have to eat it all at once…shame! This recipe I got from Mary Berry’s Complete Cook Book.

Beth’s Baked Alaska

Ingredients – serves 8

  • Ready made flan sponge
  • 2 egg whites
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Tin of fruit – I used peaches

Method

  1. Unwrap your flan sponge (I know it feels like cheating but even Mary Berry told me to buy it) and place and a baking tray.
  2. Drain your fruit and assemble on the flan case. I often find the peach slices are too chunky so I cut each of them in half before adding them to the base. If you were like me and going somewhere then leave it at that for now and take the rest of the ingredients and a hand whisk with you.
  3. When you are about ready to bake put the oven onto gas mark 8/230c. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Whisk in the sugar a spoonful at a time and add a tsp of lemon juice. Keep whisking until the meringue is glossy and stiffer peaks start to form.
  4. Next scoop ice cream onto the fruit flan. I like to go for a good mound so get it on then.
  5. Now you need to work fast a spoon the meringue on top of the ice cream so that it covers it completely so that there are no gaps and you can’t see the ice cream through the white encasing. Sprinkle a little extra caster sugar on top and put in the oven for 3-5 minutes or until the meringue goes brown.
  6. Serve and eat immediately!

I had a few friends over for dinner this week and I was shattered as it was the day after I ran a half marathon! Consequently I wanted something simple that I could throw together and wasn’t too heavy as I spent the end of last week carbo loading ready for the race.

This recipe is from a friend I used to work with who is also a big foodie. She made it for me when I went to visit her in her new place in London a few years ago now. Anyway I dug it out of my recipe book and gave it a whirl and it was fab!

Jess’s Smoked Salmon Tart and Summer Vegetable Tart 

Ingredients – makes 2 small tarts

  • 300ml Crème Fraiche
  • 3 eggs
  • 4oz smoked salmon
  • 4oz plain flour
  • 4oz self raising flour
  • 4 oz unsalted butter
  • Feta cheese
  • 1 tomato
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Mixed roast vegetables ( I did what was in my garden – courgette, beetroot, chard and mixed in some mushrooms)

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4/200c. Grease two 8 inch round tins (I use cake release which is just melted butter and flour sprinkled in to make a slight paste). Make the pastry by sieving the flour in a bowl and rubbing in the fat until it looks like bread crumbs. 
  2. Using a blunt knife mix in luke warm water until it forms a dough. Roll out the pastry and line the two tins.
  3. Combine the crème fraiche and eggs in a bowl, beat and season.
  4. Meanwhile bake your chosen vegetables for the vegetarian tart with some herbs – I used rosemary – and cooked until they had started to go brown (10-15 mins)
  5. Divide the crème fraiche mixture in two. Into one bowl add the vegetables and in the other add the salmon. Pour into the pastry casese and slice the tomato into wedges, decorate the top of each tart by placing the tomato slices in a circle. Sprinkle over the feta and bake for 20-30 mins until golden and the filling is risen and solid.
  6. Serve with new potatoes and salad!

NB you may need to put foil on the tarts part way through to stop the pastry burning.