Category Archives: Food

Restaurant style pan fried sea bass

As the About page explains, this blog is about how you can save money to enjoy the finer things in life, such as eating out. By this, I don’t mean eating out at a chain restaurant every week; I mean eating out at really really good restaurants every month or two. A simple way to save for these really really good restaurants is to cut back on the takeaways and the bog standard meals out but that’s a challenge when we’re uninspired by what we can cook at home.

Well, part of this blog is on feasts and that includes cooking your own grub. If what you cook is more appealing, and of restaurant standard, (and you have a bottle of wine ready), who needs to go out?

So, here’s my recipe for pan fried sea bass – a staple menu item for any good restaurant.

pan fried sea bassYou will need:

2 fillets of sea bass

Plain flour

Oil

Salt and pepper

Start by covering a large plate with a layer of plain flour. Add a generous seasoning of salt and pepper.

Put the fillets on to the plate, and cover both sides with the flour.

floured sea bass

Add 2 tbsp of oil to a large frying pan on a medium heat. Once hot, add the fillets, skin side down.  Cook for 4 minutes.

Turn over when crispy brown and cook the other side for 1-2 minutes until cooked.

crispy sea bass

Then put on a plate and garnish  with some lemon juice or warmed basil pesto.

Yum. x

Proper good roast beef

sliced roast beef

When I was about fourteen, I went vegetarian. My poor mum had to stock the freezers with Linda McCartney burgers and most of the quorn range, and she also bought tofu and invested in a vegetarian cook book.  Two weeks in, I quit.  The pull of bacon was just far too strong.

Since then, I can’t think of a day when I haven’t eaten meat. I love it. Proscuitto is something I can demolish a whole pack of in one sitting, and I base my weekly meals around sausages and minced beef.  Don’t even get me started on pork crackling!

Anyway, last weekend I cooked roast beef.

roast beef

I’ve done roast pork and roast chicken before really well (recipes to follow soon) but I’d never attempted roast beef.  Ooh I also know a really good roast leg of lamb recipe where you put the meat directly onto the shelf of the oven to cook and the fat drips down on to a tray of thinly sliced potatoes making them lovely and crispy.  It’s heaven on earth. (I’ll pull out the recipe and post it up here very soon, I promise!)

To have a proper roast, you NEED to have roast potatoes, roast veg, good gravy and yorkshires.  For the yorkshires and the gravy, you can get lovely ready made versions from the supermarket.  For the potatoes, I’ve discovered that if you peel and par boil the potatoes (as usual) and fill a roasting tin with oil (as usual), before you bung the drained potatoes in the oven to roast, you cover them in 2 tablespoons of flour.  This will help them to soak up the oil and crisp better.  TRY IT.

The recipe is based on Jamie Oliver’s roast beef. The only reason it’s not EXACTLY the same is that Jamie doesn’t give you any guidance on cooking time vs weight.  So here’s my guide for cooking a 1.2kg joint of beef to medium.

You will need:

A good quality joint of beef.  I had a 1.2kg topside.

2 carrots

2 onions

2 sticks of celery

A bulb of garlic

A few sprigs of thyme or rosemary

Start by preheating your oven to 210 degrees fan.  Take a big roasting tin and drizzle with 1 glug (don’t you just LOVE that word?!) of oil.

In the base of the tin, place the two carrots, peeled and each cut into four pieces.  Add the onions, peeled and quartered, and the celery, washed and cut in threes.  Gather the vegetables together so that they form a pile in the centre of the tin and sprinkle the garlic cloves over the pile.  Pour over another glug of oil.

raw veg

Unwrap the beef and pat dry with kitchen towel.  Next rub it with oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper.  Then place it on top of the veg and sprinkle with the rosemary/thyme.

raw meat

Place in the oven and let it cook at 210 degrees for 20 mins. Here’s my cooking rule:

Whatever the weight, it must cook at 210 for 20 minutes, then 180 for 15 minutes for every 450g for medium or 20 minutes for every 450g for well done.

So for 1.2kg that is 2.67 x 450g so also 2.67 x 15 mins = 40 mins.

So for my beef, after the initial 20 min cooking session, I cooked it for a further 40 mins at 180 degrees.  This left it beautifully crispy on the outside, but very pink on the inside.

more roast beef

Once cooked, remove it from the oven, cover it tightly in foil and leave it to rest for at least 30 mins.

sliced roast beef

Then you can carve and serve with all of the trimmings I mentioned earlier.

Enjoy.

Easy double chocolate cookie recipe

Who doesn’t love CHOCOLATE? I do. I adore it. Chocolate cake, chocolate biscuits, chocolate muffins, chocolate cookie, hot chocolate, melted chocolate and even just plain old bars of chocolate – I just can’t get enough of the stuff.triple chocolate chip cookies

But, because of this “addiction”, it’s best if I don’t have too much of the stuff in the house. It’s not good for my thighs, I’m afraid.

As a treat, though, I really like to bake with chocolate, and then the calories don’t really count. And you convince yourself you’re only going to have one or two of what you’ve made per day so, really….you’re being good.

There are a number of ways to get a quick hit of baked chocolatey goodness but my favourite is in the form of a chocolate cookie.

chocolate3

This easy double chocolate cookie recipe gives you a real hit of chocolate and crunchy smart goodness and it’s easy. Also, once baked, the cookies will last in the freezer for about 2 weeks so it’s a good way of getting a daily burst of chocolate without having to brave the shops again and again for the bad stuff.

The recipe for Easy Double Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients (Makes 16)

130g butter

75g golden caster sugar

75g dark soft brown sugar

1 egg

½ tsp of vanilla extract

200g plain flour

½ tsp salt

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

40g dark chocolate

1 tsp cocoa powder

80g mini smarties, with some extra for decoration eating as you go

Method

Combine the butter and sugars in a bowl and cream together with a whisk. Add the egg and vanilla extract, and sift in the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Melt the dark chocolate slowly either in the microwave or in a bowl over a pot of hot water. Add to the mixture along with the cocoa powder and mix well. It should all be a uniform chocolatey colour. Next, add the mini smarties and again mix well. They need to be evenly spread throughout the cookie dough. Roll into a ball (if too wet to roll in your hands, add an extra 10g flour), wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C and grease 2 baking sheets. Take the cookie dough out of the fridge, break into 16 even pieces. (A good way of ensuring you do this evenly is to weigh all of the dough, use a calculator to divide that amount by 16 and then break off chunks and add or subtract to reach 1/16th in weight. And yes, I did say to use a calculator.)

Roll each piece into a ball, place on the baking sheet and flatten until 1 cm thick with your hands. Place in the oven for 10 minutes.

Once cooked, take the baking sheets out of the oven and leave them for 10 minutes, then turn the chocolate cookies out onto a wire rack to cool. Then, you’re done!