Semi-Dried Tomatoes

Fill your kitchen with the intoxicating aroma

of roasting garlic, herbs & sun ripened tomato.

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This absolutely gorgeous addition to my Gifts From The Kitchen series will have the savoury lovers salivating! It’s a wonderfully practical culinary shortcut to enhance pasta & pizza dishes throughout the festive hangover.

Simply start by using an apple corer to cut out all the middle cores of the tomatoes before placing them into a pot of boiling water for 20 seconds only! Remove them immediately to plunge into a bowl of ice & water to cool.

Now I know that doesn’t actually sound like enough time to achieve anything at all, but trust me, it does! This is what allows you to be able to peel the skins off the fruit.

Once you’ve peeled all the skin off, cut the tomatoes in half & place them straight onto a baking tray.

Drizzle them with a wee bit of olive oil, then season with salt & black pepper. Throw on a few garlic cloves that you’ve peeled & ‘squashed’ with either your palm or the flat blade of your knife & sprinkle over some dried mixed herbs, or you might like to just throw on some thyme sprigs if that’s more your thing.

Bake them in a 140c oven for 4 hours before then putting them straight into a clean jar, topping with olive oil & screwing on the lid to seal.

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Fish Cakes

Golden encrusted discs housing a

fabuliciouzly soft & flavourful gift from the deep.

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I simply adore Fish Cakes & would order them every time at one particular restaurant in Sanctuary Cove on Australia’s iconic Gold Coast. I haven’t found them that good any where else in the nation……until I started making my own! Hubby goes absolutely wild for these, devouring them greedily as if he’ll never experience them again. It is such an easy recipe, but that’s what a lot of good food is ~ Simple.

Start by frying off 750g worth of fish fillets in a wee bit of heated oil. I use Basa which is about 4 fillets. Then you’ll need to flake them up into small, mince like, consistency in a bowl.

Add in 300g of mashed potato (this is a great way to use up cold left overs!) along with 1/2 a bunch of chopped up flat leaf parsley, 1 teaspoon of hot cayenne pepper & then whisk 1 egg well & pop that in the bowl too.

Combine that lot well & then season generously with salt.

Rest the mixture in the fridge for half an hour then shape into cakes, dust with a wee bit of plain flour & shallow fry over a medium heat until each side is lusciously golden.

Drain any excess oil off your Fish Cakes before serving with a colourful salad & lemon wedges.

ClapShot

A nod to my Scottish heritage,

this fancy mash is fabuliciouzly sweet.

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It’s one of the most treasured of Scottish dishes but it’s one of those oral knowledge recipes that’s usually passed down in the family rather than recorded, so here is how you can all make this classic wee bonnie meal!

Start off with 2 saucepans because the veggies take different times to cook. Place 500g of peeled & chopped potatoes in one & 500g of peeled & chopped swedes in the other. Cover both in water, add salt & bring to the boil. Let those bubble away on your cauldron until the root vegetables are soft & tender before draining them well.

Now you can mix them together in the one pot. Mash them up good & proper before adding in 50g of butter along with 75ml of double cream. Mash them thoroughly until lovely & smooth.

Season the ClapShot generously with salt & white pepper then finish off by stirring through 1 tablespoon worth of freshly chopped chives.

Hubby declares this to be the BEST mash EVER!

Swedish Cream Sauce

A fabuliciouzly versatile sauce with countless applications!

An absolute must in your culinary arsenal.

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To have a variety of sauces up my sleeve has saved me so very many times from kitchen disaster! The ability to create a fam-bam pleasing meal from standard pantry & fridge items is both totally satisfying to me & their tummies!

For this gorgeous sauce, start by melting 1 tablespoon of butter in a saucepan over low heat before adding 1 tablespoon of white flour & then whisk it until it turns a lovely golden colour, just to make sure that the flour is cooked out.

Next, pour in 1 cup of beef stock, 1/4 cup of milk, 1/4 cup of thickened cream & a good splash of soy sauce. Give that lot a jolly good stir before seasoning well with salt & white pepper.

Turn up the heat to thicken up the sauce to your liking & use it any which way your imagination can dream up!

In the photo here I’ve teamed this Swedish Cream Sauce with pasta & meatballs. These basic meatballs I’ve shared before but just a quick reminder of what’s in these ones.

Into a bowl place 500g of either pork or chicken mince (whichever floats your boat) along with 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of Maple Syrup, 1 teaspoon of mixed herbs, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper & then season generously with salt & white pepper. Mix it all up well with your hands then roll into balls. Heat up a little oil in a pan & fry them off until cooked through.

Spinach & Mushroom Cannelloni

Boasting Spinach, Mushrooms, Tomato & Mince,

this is not-your-average meat & 3 vege!

Yes I am well aware that Tomato is a fruit & Mushroom is a fungi, but let’s not ruin my joke here 😉

This is such a fabuliciouz mince bake meal that it’s sure to be just as big a hit with your fam-bam as it is with mine.

Bonus is, it’s deadset easy & you can even prepare the filling earlier to speed up dinner time.

Start by heating a good glug of oil in a large frypan & bunging in 250g of sliced up mushrooms to cook off. Then add in 500g of whatever mince floats your boat to brown. Remember to season the meat with salt & white pepper as soon as it hits the pan. Pour in an entire 700g jar of passata & give that lot a jolly good stir. Let it bubble away on a simmer for a good 10 minutes.

(Now this is the bit that you can pause at if you’re pre-preparing ahead, otherwise, press on.)

Meanwhile, pop a pot of water onto the boil & gently wilt off an entire 150g bag of baby spinach leaves. Drain them well & stir them into the sauce.

Grab your baking dish & ladle in some of the sauce over the bottom, then start filling your cannelloni tubes using a teaspoon to help you get the saucy goodies in there. Lay each filled tube, side by side, into the baking dish. Ladle all the leftover sauce on top of the filled tubes before spreading the contents of an entire 250g tub of mascarpone cheese over the top. Finally crown your culinary creation with a handful of whatever crumb floats your boat & a generous handful of parmesan cheese too.

Whack that lot into a 200c oven for 30 minutes.

Thai Green Chicken Curry

A fabuliciouzly quick & easy curry that’s sure to please the whole Fam-Bam!

This is another gem of a dish from my post ballet arsenal that I can not believe I haven’t shared with you all already! Forget stopping for takeout on the way home, you’ll have this whipped up quicker than the store can!

Simply pop a pot of water on to boil, salt & cook off some rice before draining.

While that’s happening, grab a medium pot & bung in 2 diced up chicken thighs then pour over a 400ml tin of coconut milk. Get that onto a medium heat to cook off the chook.

In a small pot, pour in a 400ml tin of coconut cream & gently heat it up before popping in 2 tablespoons of Thai Green Curry paste along with a splash of soy sauce. Stir it well to incorporate & then add it into the chicken pot. Give the whole lot a jolly good stir.

Whack in the cooked & drained rice & dish up!

Now that’s the base recipe! Back in the day, before Mini-Me, I used to use 4 tablespoons of the curry paste which makes it really pack a spicy punch! Also, if you have a wee bit of extra time, load that curry up with a gazillion veggies for a more substantial meal.

Pan Fried Ricotta Gnocchi

Delightful wee pillows of fluffy potato that simply make you smile.

I’ve always loved making my own gnocchi. There’s something which I find just so satisfying about taking a humble potato & creating a fabuliciouz meal from it. Now that Mini Me & I are both Coeliac, I thought my “fluffy pillows” ,as she calls them, were yet another distant memory of our culinary past but NO! I have discovered a Gluten Free recipe which is a somewhat acceptable alternative.

Start by popping 3 large, starchy tatties into a pot of water & bringing to the boil. Make sure you leave their skins on so that no water can get into them. Once they’re cooked through, peel them whilst hot (careful not to blister the prints off your fingertips!) then use the fine side of your grater to mimic what a potato ricer would do with a nice fine shred.

Make a well (hole) in the centre & add 1 egg yolk with enough ricotta cheese to knead into a dough.

Heat some oil in a pan to shallow fry before pinching bits of the dough off to roll into balls then use your thumb to add a slight depression in the middle before placing gently into the hot oil.

Turn the gnocchi carefully to crisp up both sides before removing to drain any excess oil.

You can team them with your favourite pasta sauce or whack them through a fresh salad.

Yellow Fish Curry

A surprisingly easy curry to whip up in a flash!

This taste of Thailand will surely become a post ballet quickie favourite for my Fam-Bam!

Simply heat a glug of peanut oil (or whatever type floats your boat) in your wok over medium to high heat before adding in 1/2 cup of Thai yellow curry paste. Stir fry that until it’s beautifully fragrant, another way to tell it’s done is when the oils start to separate.

Bung in 1 cup of coconut cream & stir it through. Bring it to the boil, then reduce your heat to medium-low. Whack in a couple of diced fish fillets (I use Basa but love Barramundi too – any white fish will do) & just let that cook gently, giving it the odd push about the wok now & then.

When the fish is cooked through (it turns lovely white, sort of like a self timer!), turn the heat completely off & stir in 2 tablespoons of lime juice, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar & 2 teaspoons of fish sauce.

Serve it up with fluffy white rice & It’s Chompin Time!

Chicken & Mushroom Mac Cheese

If you’re watching your weight or counting calories,

look away now!

Nobody can ever accuse this one of being healthy but sometimes, you just really need a hit of comfort food no matter what the consequences to your hips!

Start off by popping a pot of water onto boil, add salt & cook off an entire 500g bag of macaroni pasta before draining & bunging into a large oven-proof casserole dish.

While that’s doing it’s thing, bubbling away, you can multi-task ~ Da Da Dum!

Heat a wee glug of oil in a frypan & add in 2 teaspoons of minced garlic along with 500g of diced chicken thigh to cook off. Once lovely & golden, throw in a punnet of sliced mushrooms too. I prefer Swiss Brown Mushies but use whatever type floats your boat. Once everything is cooked, add it into the casserole dish & mix through the pasta.

Then we move onto making the cheese sauce. Far from being something to be scared of, it’s actually pretty easy to make so take a deep breath & here we go!

Bung 2 tablespoons of butter into a large saucepan over the lowest heat possible. When it’s melted, remove from the heat & stir in 2 tablespoons of plain flour & 1 teaspoon of salt. Pop back onto the lowest heat, stirring to cook off that flour – you’re looking for when the butter ‘remelts’. Finally, slowly add in 2.5 cups of milk (you’ve just made a classic white sauce) before dumping in an entire 450g bag of whatever multiple cheese blend floats your boat (now you have a cheese sauce). Turn up the heat to medium to thicken it up a wee bit then simply pour over the pimped up pasta in the casserole dish. Stir through thoroughly before crowning your creation with copious amounts of grated cheddar cheese & a scrumptious layer of shredded parmesan cheese as well!

Whack that lot into a 180c oven for 20 minutes.

Crunchy Fish Fingers

This is so utterly easy,

you’ll be shaking your head in disbelief that you haven’t done it earlier!

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To get these super crunchy, super tasty nuggets of fishy goodness on your table is unbelievably simple!

Grab your favourite chips (crisps), we absolutely can never go past Smith’s Original, pop some in a plastic freezer bag & crush them up before setting aside.

Slice a couple of fish fillets (I’ve used Basa but my all time fav fish is Barramundi) into nice pieces.

Set up your production line of a bowl of whisked egg & another bowl of flour with the bag of crushed chips at the end.

Dip the fish in the egg, dust in the flour & whack in the bag.

When all the fish pieces are in the bag, twist it closed & shake it all up baby! This will coat all the fish nicely.

Heat some oil in a frypan to shallow fry off the fish before draining on a cooling wire set over a baking tray.

Bung that lot on a serving board or plate along with some tartare sauce or thousand island dressing then stand back & bask in the glory chef!