Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Emeril's Tchoup Chop

Unusually we ate out this Christmas day, which was a pleasant relaxing day for me and with no leftovers to go to waste...

We walked in to Emerils Tchoup Chop and were immediately greeted at the door. If you have never been the restaurant is beautiful inside with stunning glass flower chandeliers, and a lily pond through the centre.

We were seated promptly to a nice table at the end of the pond and met by our very attentive waiter. We ordered wine and beer and perused the menu. They had a special Chritsmas day menu as well as the regular a la carte. Whilst looking we munched on Emeril's house prawn crackers with an asian dipping sauce...yummy

We chose for appetisers
Polynesian “Kicked Up” Crab Cake Mango-Habanero Butter Sauce and Caramelized Pineapple Compote
Wasabi Cured Lomi Lomi Salmon Napoleon Avocado, Tomatoes, Crème Fraîche, Crispy Wontons
Fried Goats Cheese salad with Sirachi sauce & crispy pancetta

Entrees were
Grouper (from the Christmas menu)
Garlic Grilled Black Tiger Shrimp on Chinese Style Noodle Cake with a Lemongrass Infused Wild Mushroom Crèma
Tender Beer Braised Beef Short Ribs on Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes and Sweet Garlic Cabernet Reduction
Mongolian Barbeque Grilled Pork Tenderloin Caramelized Sweet Onion-Orange Confit, Stir Fried Lomein Noodles

All was extremely tasted, the down point being the temperature of the Shrimp dish which arrived a touch cool. High points were the grouper and short ribs.
For dessert we chose items off the Christmas menu - A gingerbread cake and a Candy Cane creme brulee.. the creme brulee was to die for and the highlight, for me, of the whole meal.

Servive was attentive throughout and we tipped large ( well it was Christmas Day!!) We'll be back..it was out 5th visit, but the first time for my parents who loved it.

We dined here Christmas Day, and for four of us with two rounds of cocktails, appetisers, entrees and desserts & tip the bill was $300 - well worth it...

Emeril's Tchoup Chop
The Royal Pacific Resort

6300 Hollywood Way
Orlando, FL 32819

Mango & Jalapeno Chutney

Whilst channeling Martha Stewart this Christmas I made some delicious jams and chutneys...here is my favourite, Mango & Jalapeno Chutney.


• 4 cups mangoes (Ripe) – skinned, stoned and chopped

• 1/2 cup lime, seeded and chopped (with skin)
• 1 cup yellow onion diced
• 1/2 cup fresh ginger, Grated
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 6 jalapenos, broiled, skinned, deseeded and chopped
• 2 cups light brown sugar
• 1 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds
• 1 tablespoon dried red pepper flakes
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon, Ground
• 4 cloves (will be removed at end of cooking)

1.Place all ingredients in heavy saucepan over medium heat.

2. Bring to boil.
3. Lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for about 12 hours.
5. Again bring to a boil, lower heat, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
6. Remove from heat  and remove cloves. Pour into hot sterilized jars.( I sterilized by simmering lids and jars for 20 minutes – you could do in the oven too)
7. Place in a canning bath and cover on a medium heat for 10 mins… remove and leave to cool for 12 hours before moving
8. Label and enjoy

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Apple & Cranberry Muffin Cakes

With apples so plentiful at the moment these muffin cakes are a delicious way of using them up.. The recipe makes 12-14, but can easily be doubled for more.
Delicious on their own or with a spoon of vanilla ice cream.
I recommend that you use muffin case inside a muffin tin as the mixture with spread the cases.

• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup white sugar
• ½ cup light brown sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon pumpkin spice
• 1/3 cup vegetable oil
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup milk
• 2 apples - peeled, cored and chopped
• 1/2 cup dried cranberries

• 1/2 cup light brown sugar
• 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup butter, cubed
• 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
2. Stir together 1 1/2 cup flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon and pumpkin spice. Mix in oil, eggs and milk. Fold in apples and cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling to the top of the cup.
3. In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, butter and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Rub together with fingertips and sprinkle over unbaked muffins.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cheesy Ham 'Gratin' Bake

With over 3lb of our Honey Baked Ham left (even with the best efforts of my family) I decided to take half home to our house after cooking Thanksgiving for everyone at my Mother in law's house...normally I'd leave all the leftovers, however this year there was so much meat (smoked turkey and ham) that I decided to purloin half a turkey breast and the ham, and today I've been thinking up recipes....tonight a ham, cheese and potato bake...it looks delicious going into the oven, so as I type my fingers are crossed for something yummy and totally satisfying....enjoy!


For 2 people
2 gratin dishes

  • 1 cup cooked ham, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated aged swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup romano cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup mixed grated Italian cheese
  • 1/2 medium onion sliced
  • 1 large potato, peeled and thinly sliced ( I used side of grater)
  • 4 sprigs of Thyme
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Approx 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs

  1. In a frying pan add the potatoes, thyme, onion and garlic - cover with water and a teaspoon of salt and bring to the boil. You are looking for the potatoes to be just cooked. Drain
  2. Wash the frying pan as the potatoes drain and add a tablespoon of butter. Once melted on a low-medium heat gently fry off the potato mixture (remove the thyme springs now)
  3. In a saucepan melt the other tablespoon of butter, then add the flour, cooking for about 2 minutes on a low/medium heat. Add 1/2 a cup of milk and keep stirring, once thickened add another 1/2 cup, contunue until you have a thick sauce. Add the swiss and romano cheeses, the mustard and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. In a large bowl combine the cheese sauce, the ham and the potato mixture.
  5. Add to two gratin dishes
  6. Sprinkle with the Italian cheese mix
  7. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and cook at 400 F for 20 minutes until bubbling and brown.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Smokey Cauliflower & Bacon Soup

It's winter (78F outside today) and I'm in soup mode. We're trying to eat lighter and we love soup & salad combos, or today, soup and sandwich. I like to make my own soups, normally vegetable based, and always looking to tweek my existing recipes. Here I've edited my normal cauliflower recipe to give it a bit of a kick..Hubbie loved it....Enjoy!

Enough for 4 large bowls

  • 1 large cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 1 large potato peeled and chopped into 2" pieces
  • 6 rashers of smokey bacon
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 green (spring) onions finely chopped
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup (4oz) shredded Italian mixed cheese
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablspoons butter
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Saute the onions and garlic over a medium heat in a large saucepan in the butter.
  2. When translucent push the onions and garlic to one side of the pan and add 2 rashers of the bacon that have been diced.
  3. Once the bacon has cooked add the cauliflower, potato, cumin and paprika.
  4. Saute for 2 mins.
  5. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and then reduce to a low-medium heat, cover and cook for 15 minutes
  6. Remove from heat and hand blend or liquidize until required smoothness
  7. Add the milk and cheese, heat through to melt the cheese, then taste and season with salt and pepper. I used about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper ( I didn't have any white pepper here, but it would probably work better).
  8. Fry off the rest of the bacon, drain and serve on top of the soup

Sunday, November 8, 2009


OK so not really a restaurant review, but these cupcakes are to die for. We discovered Camicupcakes yesterday evening and we have to admit to going back today to try some more. The moistest, most delicious heavenly little cake I have ever put in my mouth, this girl knows her cupcakes.

Yesterday we had the Chocolate Raspberry Almond Cream (I know sounds yummy right?!) and hubbie had the Elvis (click on the pictures for the description). They were gone in about two seconds flat and left us desperate for another one!...We decided that what made them stand out from other cakes was that as well as the cake being super moist the icing was not overly sweet, so there was no point where you said, I can't eat any more as it's too sickly...clever.
So today we went to Mellow Mushroom for some pizza ( review follows) with alterior motives..to try another Camicupcake...

Oh I thought I'd gone to heaven when I tasted the Pineapple Toasted Coconut and the speed at which hubbie downed his Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream ( it didn't make it home) seemed to indicate that he was pretty happy too...
Please try them if you can, they have two locations in Jacksonville and one in Atlanta...trust me they are sublime.
P.s. they are only $2.50 each....

My cupcake just before I devoured it!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Brass Monkey, Jacksonville, Florida

Brass monkeys in the UK means freezing cold...not exactly how I'd describe our barmy November visit to Brass Monkey in Southside, Jacksonville. We were looking for an early dinner somewhere and had intended to go to Mellow Mushroom, but being a Gator game night, it was rammed and we looked for somewhere we could get in without waiting ages for a table. The other end of the strip to Mellow Mushroom we found Brass Monkey . It was quiet when we walked in (6.30pm) but soon started to fill up, and as a bonus we had view of the large screen that was showing the football, so we wouldn't miss the start.

It's a tapas restaurant, with an extensive drinks bar, and I have since read that they have live music and other special nights. It's modern inside with low lighting and plenty of booths (our favoured seating). It was nice to have cloth napkins and a very attentive waitress.
We picked a few small plates of Tapas raning from $6 to $9 each to share and some were better than others.
Asparagus wrapped in Serano ham, with pesto sauce - you can't really go wrong here and they didn't, crunchy asparagus with crisp ham and a delicate pesto, very nice
Garlic Prawns - Disappointing, some of the garlic had been burnt and it made the sauce bitter, and the prawns were a little tasteless
Gruyere Macaroni & Cheese with truffle oil - I want more ! absolutely delicious, melty and with a little crunch from the panko topping, perfect.
Cagney Fries - Too big, not crisp, a sin if you are doing fries in my opinion. The taste was right but spoilt by the greasy texture
Chicken Empanadas & Avocado sauce - Pretty good, hubbie reckons that the pastry should have been more crispy and the chicken spicier, however I enjoyed them, and the sauce was super tasty.

It was very reasonable, and my Merlot was very nice and smooth for $6 / glass. We'd go again, but maybe a little later when the bar has heated up a bit.

Autumn Crumble Crisp

I was watching Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa, the other morning ( I have to admit that the food network is normally on at some point during the day), when she gave me a great idea for that eveings dessert. It is autumn and we should be celebrating the fall fruits and she made a delicious looking pear and apple crisp. Ok, I can do something like that, I'll just have a look what looks good in the supermarket and take it from there. I couldn't find any nice pears, so I bought a tin, and used Gala apples as I had some in the fridge. Five for dinner needed a 10" pie dish, and there was one portion left...it's delicious and so easy it crazy..Enjoy!

for the filling
  • 1 tin of pear halves, drained and each halve cut in 6ths ( I had 6 halves in my tin)
  • 3 apples, peeled and cut in the same size chunks as the pears
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
for the topping
  • 1 cup of old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 stick of butter melted (1/4 lb)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  1. Heat overn to 400F
  2. Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and put into a pie dish.
  3. Combine all the topping ingredients in a bowl and then sprinkle over the filling 
  4. Cook in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, you are looking for a crispy light brown topping
serve with some vanilla ice cream

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Store Cupboard Tomato & Oregano Soup

The other evening I was faced with either take-out, getting in the car and going to buy some food, or making something from the meagre options I had in the cupboard and fridge...ok, so I'm not a huge take-out fan and could not be bothered to get in the car, so initiative was required. I didn't have much, but I had a tin of tomatoes, pasta, chicken stock, a couple of fresh tomatoes, some fresh oregano and cream and parmesan from yesterday's pasta dish and some onions and celery....hmmm..I'm not having pasta again, so it looked like soup..I could definitely conjure one up from these ingredients...the finished article - husband said he'd eat it every night of the week (well it did have a tasty grilled cheese with it too!) Enjoy!

  •  1 x 14oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 fresh plum tomatoes chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery finely chopped
  • Salt & Cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup oregano finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Saute in a deep saucepan (we will be hand blending the soup later - you can use a blender for this too) the onion and garlic and celery on a medium heat
  2. Once softened add the fresh and tinned tomatoes, oregano, sugar and stock. Cook, covered on a low heat for an hour ( this should break down the tomatoes completely). Remove from heat
  3. Cool a little and then blend by hand to required smoothness
  4. Add back to a medium low heat and add the cream and parmesan cheese and season with salt & pepper to taste. Cook for 5-10 minutes until cheese melted.
  5. Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sun Choked Chicken Penne

I've said before that my husband would eat pasta any night of the week, however it will never be my favourite. With guests coming around this evening I was looking for something other than the regular tomato based sauce that we normally have. This is super quick and makes use of that store time saver, the pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. We'll be having my Garlic bread and some salad. Enjoy!

Serves 4-6


  • 1 rotisserie-cooked chicken de-skinned and shredded
  • 2 green onions finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 jar (8oz) sun-dried tomatoes drained and chopped
  • 1 jar (12oz) marinated artichoke quarters, drained
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 1lb favourite dried pasta

1. Heat oven to 350F
2. Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente and drain
3. Whilst pasta is cooking gently fry the green onions and garlic until softened in the olive oil in a large frying pan.
4. Add the chilli flakes, orgegano, sundried tomatoes and artichokes and cook for a minute
5. Add the shredded chicken and cook until heated through
6. Add the chicken stock and heat through
7. Add the Cream and heat through
8. Add the chopped parsley and 1/2 cup of parmesan and cook until the cheese has melted.
9. Season with salt and pepper to taste
10. Combine with the penne and then put into an oven proof dish. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top
11. Cook in the oven for 20 mintutes.

Serve with some salad and garlic bread

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chicken, Spinach & Blue Cheese Pasta Sauce

My friend Anne is staying with me and this is one of the first dishes I ever made her...it's quick, super tasty and you can pretend it's good for you because of the spinach!!

Serves 4
Prep Time 10 mins
Cooking Time 20 mins

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 bag baby spinach leaves (170g)
  • 1 tsp dried Herbs de Provence
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 8oz (227g) low fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup heavy (double) cream
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 1/3 cup of chopped fresh herbs (I grow Thyme, Basil and Oregano at home so I mixed these)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. In a large non stick saucepan heat the olive oil on a medium heat and then add the garlic & onion and saute for 5 mins, stirring to prevent burning.
  2. Add the chicken, salt & pepper, lemon zest and herbs de provence, cook for an additional 5 mins
  3. Add the sour cream, heavy cream and blue cheese. Cook down for an additional 5 mins. The cream should reduce by half
  4. Add the spinach and herbs and cover for the last 5 minutes, stirring half way through. The spinach will wilt down, don't worry if it looks alot!
Serve with some penne or spaghetti and some Garlic Garlic Garlic Bread


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Azurea - Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville - Restaurant review

Azurea Restaurant, Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville $$$

Six People
$500 with tip (3 rounds of cocktails, 2 shared appetisers, 6 entrees, 6 desserts, 2 coffees)

What we had .....

Cast Iron Seared Jumbo Blue Crab Cake, Apple Cider Braised Collard Greens, Charred Heirloom Tomatoes, Crisp Smoked Bacon
Artisana Chesse And Wild Mushroom Tart, Watercress, Tomato Marmalade,Shallot Vinaigrette


Seafood “Mixed Grill”,Local Catch Hawaiian Prawns, Diver Sea Scallop,Tangerine Vin Blanc x 2
“Local Catch, 3 Ways”,Grilled with Stone Fruit Salpicone,Bronzed with Lime Butter Emulsion, Beignet Battered with Smoked Vidalia Onion Remoulade
Harris Ranch 16 oz. Beef Rib Eye Cipollini onion and Pancetta Relish, Béarnaise
Red Sea Salt Crusted Diver Scallops, Anson Mills Tasso Grits, Sweet Corn Fava Bean Sauté, Smoked Piquillo Coulis
Coriander Dusted Sea Bass, Spiny Lobster-Mango Gastrique, Cilantro Emulsion

Warm Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Center,Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Chocolate Pouring Sauce
Crème Brulee Two Ways, Tahitian Vanilla Bean, Malted Chocolate, Assortment of Butter Cookies
One Ocean Dessert Sampler, Platter for Two x 2

On being invited to Azurea I was excited. I'd read good reviews and knew that our foodie fix would be very well satisfied.
We arrived a little late, walked through an amazing blue shell entrance which makes you feel like you are under the sea,
and found the rest of our party were already having cocktails on the outside seating area overlooking the ocean (it was dark, so we coudn't see it, but we could hear  and smell it!).
They quickly ordered us martini's and we settled in for a very nice evening. As we had an early table we were not rushed into coming to our table, and the wait staff outside were friendly and efficient.
Inside we were shown to our table and another round of cocktails swiftly appeared. I never saw the menu so can't tell you the prices, but they were delicious!
Our main server was a little over attentive, and seemed to appear without warning ! It was like he could materialise from thing air! but as he was not actually delivering the food we did not have to see him the whole time!

We were talking away when an amuse-bouche lollipop of grape, goats chesse and pecan came....it was surprising yummy and fresh tasting!
Our appetisers were elegant, although two between six of us was just not enough as they were very moreish, especially the cheese and mushroom tart. A nice break and then on to the entrees... they were fresh, well-prepared and divine. My Local Catch was a yellow eyed snapper and was superb! My husbands steak was well cooked (rare) and very juicy.
We chose for the table Four Cheese Baked Macaroni, Sautéed Baby Savoy Spinach with Shaved Garlic and Wild Mushroom Fricassee with fresh Thyme Butter.Two of the couples had the dessert sampler which was chef's choice of 4 desserts, which looked nice, but I was extremely happy with my salty and sweet chocolate cake, and my husband with his creme brulees!
...all scrumptious!

Attentive service and elegant beach atmosphere!

The best meal we've had this year, and worth a night out for a special occaision...we will be back !

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Mighty Meatball Spagetti Dinner

My husbands favourite trick is to mark the recipes he would love to eat in each of the celebrity chef cookbooks with his initials…having made one, a special meat pasta, I was really disappointed with the taste or lack of it and the next night presented these meatballs…his initials have been crossed out on that page now!!! The rosemary gives the sauce a really fresh fragrant taste and the meatballs have that lovely background from the Italian sausage.

For 4 people
Enough pasta (we use spaghetti or fettucine) for 4 people (depends how big your appetites are!!!)

For the meatballs
  • 1/2lb minced sirloin
  • ¼ lb hot Italian bulk sausage
  • ¼ lb mild Italian bulk sausage
  • Buy sausages and split skins if you can’t get bulk
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons basil leaves chopped
  • 1 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • ½ large red onion finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 5 tablespoon All purpose Flour
  • 1 egg
For the sauce

  • ½ large red onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 carrot finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil
  • 1 16oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 large fresh tomatoes skinned and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
  • ½ cup red wine
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Steak Sauce (I use A1)
1. Combine all but 4 tablespoons of the flour and the oil for the meatballs in a large bowl. Use your hands to combine all the ingredients.

2. From the mixture take small sections and use remaining flour to help shape into meatballs. Set aside until all meatball formed.

3. Heat the Olive Oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Gently fry the meatballs until gently browned on both sides..you don’t need to fully cook they will finish in the sauce.

4. Reserve the meatballs to one side once browned.

5. In the same pan start the sauce. Add the oil and when hot add onion, carrot and celery and cook for about 5 mins (until carrot is soft).

6. Add the garlic, fresh tomatoes. Cook down for a few minutes until the tomatoes have broken down.

7. Add the crushed tomatoes, dried herbs, ½ rosemary, basil, red wine and steak sauce.

8. Turn heat down to low, cover and cook for about 20 mins.
9. Add back meatballs and any juices, cover each one with sauce and cook for another 20 mins

10. Add the heavy cream and reserved rosemary and cook for 5 mins. Cover and turn off heat
11. Cook the Spaghetti to taste ( I like al dente ) and drain

12. Take a few spoons of the sauce and mix through the cooked spaghetti. Turn onto serving platter. Cover with the rest of the meatballs and sauce and serve.

If you are really hungry serve with my Garlic, Garlic, Garlic Bread!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Garlic, Garlic, Garlic Bread

When you are married to a 6’5 construction worker you need to keep him well fed and I serve this gorgeous garlic bread with my pasta dishes….however this is so good it rarely even makes it to the table…you won’t ever buy shop garlic bread again!!! It's the lemon that gives it that extra kick.

Serves 4 people
Preparation Time 5 mins
Cooking Time 5 mins


  • French baguette sliced into ½ inch pieces at an angle.
  • Zest & Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Italian dried herb mix
  • 4 large garlic cloves minced or grated
  • 50 grams of butter
  • 2 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • 150g mixed Italian cheeses (you can buy mixed bags at supermarket, but regular cheddar will get the job done too if you can't access any Italian cheeses!!)
1. Combine the butter, oil, herbs, zest and juice of lemon, pepper and garlic in either a microwaveable bowl or a saucepan.
2. Heat gently until butter melted
3. Lay the bread slices on a baking sheet – use foil to save scraping burnt cheese off later.
4. Pour a little butter mixture on to each slice (use a brush if easier)
5. Cover each slice with cheese
6. Place until a medium grill (broil) until cheese melted and bread is crispy


Clare's Super Beef Stew

My friend and her daughter arrive in Florida this week and I'm trying to get food cooked so that I can enjoy being with them rather than spend all the time in the kitchen. This Sunday we will be having this delicious beef stew which is a hybrid of my mothers recipe, homemade yorkshire puddings and veggies...yummy. PS..I'll add some pics on Sunday ;-)

Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 10mins prep, 2 1/2  hrs cooking


  • 1 1/2 lbs lean stewing beef
  • 1 large yellow onion medium diced
  • 3 sticks of celery sliced at a diagonal in 2 " pieces
  • 3 large carrots sliced at a diagonal in 2 " pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
  • 3 medium potatoes peeled and sliced in 1/4 thickness ( you can add more if you are not going to serve potatoes with your meal)
  • 1/4 cup thyme leaves
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock, low sodium
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard (I used Grey Poupon)
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and ground pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
You will need a casserole dish that you can fry in then transfer to the oven, or a frying pan with a casserole dish. I use a Le Crueset casserole
  1. Set oven at 300 F ( 150 C)
  2. Cut meat into 2" pieces
  3. Season well with salt and pepper
  4. Coat the meat with the flour and shake off excess
  5. Heat one tablespoon of oil at a medium hot heat.
  6. Brown the meat on both sides, you are looking for a nice crust, don't cook through and don't crown pan as the meat wont brown. Once all meat done remove from casserole and turn heat down to medium.
  7. Add rest of oil, heat and then add onion, celery, carrot, thyme. As you stir remember to scrape all the good bits off the bottom of the pan
  8. When the onions have started to soften add the meat back to the casserole, then add the wine, stock, mustard and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, stir well and then cover with lid or foil and put in oven.
  9. Cook for 2 hrs and then shut off oven and leave to cool down if you are going to eat another day. If not you can thicken if required with some corn starch (flour) and a little water - it depends how thick you want your stew.
We're having with Yorkshire Puddings, Roast Potatoes and Vegetables and all I have to do is take the stew out if the freezer now and heat up! Hurrah!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Lonely Can of Tuna Fishcakes!

Ever thought about what to do with that lonely can of tuna at the back of the cupboard? That was my dilema as I looked around for something to eat last night. I had 1 can of tuna (the only protein in the house) and a shelf full of pasta...hmmm...something with the Tuna I think...these turned out light and tasty, and tasted yummy with some sweet chilli sauce and a green salad....enjoy!

Serves 2-3 people
Preparation Time 15 mins
Cooking Time 30 mins

  • 1 185g can of tuna in brine, drained
  • 1 large potato, boiled and mashed
  • ½ stick lemon grass, bashed and finely chopped ( I had some in the fridge, leave out if you dont)
  • 1 inch piece of ginger finely grated
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 shallot or equivalent onion finely chopped ( I think you could substitute green onion too)
  • ½ green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • Black pepper & Salt
  • Vegetable Oil for frying
  • Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce
1. Combine tuna, potato, lemon grass, ginger, garlic, shallot, chilli, fish sauce, zest, coriander, egg and flour.
2. Season with salt & pepper
3. Heat 2” of oil in a frying pan or wok until hot.
4. Create ¼” thick, 2” diameter fish cakes and add to oil in batches. Don’t over fill oil as temperature will go down. Fry until golden brown then drain on kitchen paper.
5. Continue until all cakes cooked ( you should get 8 – 10 small cakes )
6. Serve with some Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce, or maybe some lime mayonnaise

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lemony Chicken

This goes great with the Mediterranean couscous, but is great with salad to..

Serves 4 people
Preparation Time 5 mins
Cooking Time 10 mins

  • 4 Chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
  • Juice and Zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt and Ground Black Pepper

1. Slice the chicken breasts in large goujons
2. Combine all the other ingredients and leave for 20-30 mins to marinade
3. Heat a non-stick grill pan, broil (grill) or barbeque in the summer
4. Cook chicken on both sides and serve hot.


Mediterranean Couscous

My husband hates being healthy, but this one I slip by him as it tastes too good to be good for you!

Serves 4 people
Preparation Time 10 mins
Cooking Time 30 mins

Nutritrion Facts

  • 1 large red onion – cut in eights
  • 1 red bell pepper – cut in eights
  • 1 yellow bell pepper – cut in eights
  • 1 courgette (zucchini) cut in ¼ inch diagonal pieces
  • 1/2 cup (handful) chopped coriander (cilantro)
  • 1/2 cup (handful) chopped mint
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Ground Coriander
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 60 g (2oz) dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 full garlic bulb
  • Zest & Juice 1 lemon
  • Zest & Juice 1 Lime
  • Zest & Juice 1 Orange
  • 50 g (1.75oz) Pine nuts, roasted
  • 2 cups Couscous
  • 2 cups Chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt & Black Pepper

1. In a hot oven (350F, 225 C)  put the red onion, peppers, garlic and courgette in an ovenproof dish with a tablespoon of olive oil. When roasted (approx 40 mins) remove and place to one side until couscous ready.
2. In a heat proof bowl combine the couscous with cumin, coriander, cinnamon, juice and zests of lemon, lime and orange and hot chicken stock. Cover for 5 mins
3. Fluff the couscous with a fork and add the apricots, chopped mint and coriander, pine nuts, roasted vegetables and peeled, roasted garlic. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Serve with some Lemony Grilled Chicken

Monday, October 12, 2009

Yorkshire Pudding gone mad!

I've been craving a roast beef dinner for ages...as an English girl living in Florida I sometimes (alot of the time) I miss my traditional roast on a Sunday. Roast Beef in the UK would be served with roast potatoes, lots of delicious veggies, gravy, creamy horseradish sauce and ......Yorkshire Pudding. Yorkshire Pudding isn't a pudding, or any type of dessert. It's a light airy pastry made with meat drippings ( I substitute vegetable oil)  served with the meat, often with gravy or meat juices.  Cooked in a very hot oven, the Yorkshire pudding puffs up, leaving large pockets of air, and becomes a pastry that is more crust than interior. It is excellent for sopping up juices, or for Americans, buttering and eating like a dinner roll.

I have alway bought a mix before, but Jacksonville doesn't have the same influx of English as Orlando does and I realised to my horror I would have to make from scratch. Anyway, that is what the internet is for...so I Googled away and found the recipe from Chef Brian Turner.. if he (being from Yorkshire) can't make a descent Yorkie, then I don't know who can...

Well blow me down, it was simple...and the largest yorkshires ever made (in my kitchen) were born...enjoy!

(for 6 people...2 each!)
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour (plain)
  • 1 cup of eggs (I used 4 large)
  • 1 cup of milk (I used fat free and it didn't seem to hurt)
  • 1 good pinch of salt
  • vegetable oil 
  • 12 space muffin tin (yorkshire pudding tin)
  1.   Heat oven to 425 F (220 C)
  2. Combine well all the ingredients except the oil
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to each compartment in the tin
  4. Put in oven and heat until oil is smoking
  5. Pour equal amounts of the batter into each compartment
  6. Put back in oven and cook for approximately 25 mins - try not to open oven as they might fall!
  7. Enjoy with gravy and roast beef


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tequila 'Key' Lime Pie

Ok...when living in Florida you can find Key Lime Pie everywhere, but this is my little take on it.. it's the same basic recipe that you find most places, but with an adult kick! I use Persian limes when I can't get Key limes. It's a light and refreshing dessert and my father's favourite.


  • Spring Form Cake Tin
  • 200g Crushed Digestive Biscuits (use gram crackers in US)
  • 5 Limes – Juice of all, zest of 2
  • 6 medium egg yolks
  • 397g (14oz) tin Condensed Milk
  • A good glug of Tequila (20ml)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 280ml Double Cream (heavy whipping cream)
  • 2 Tablespoons Icing Sugar (confectioners sugar)
  • 50 g White Chocolate for decoration
1. Heat oven to 180 °C (350 F)
2. Heat the butter in a saucepan and add the crushed biscuit. When combined press into the base of the spring form tin.
3. Gently break the eggs yolks then add the condensed milk, tequila, lime juice and zest of one lime. Gently mix until fully combined then pour into tin over crushed biscuit.
4. Cook in the oven for 10-12 mins – you are looking for a firm consistency, but not for the pie to go brown.
5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool
6. Whisk the cream with the sugar and cover the pie.
7. Melt the white chocolate and drizzle over the pie
8. Use the reserved zest and spinkle over the pie.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Jamie Oliver's Oven Baked Spaghetti Bolognese

I normally make my own spaghetti bolognese, however my friend Anne (pictured left) has been banging on about me making Jamie Oliver's Oven Baked Spaghetti Bolognese after a successful attempt in Spetember. So I'm going to...my husband has a love affair with pasta anyway and I think my spaghetti is his favourite meal...I'm guessing that Jamie Oliver should be better than me!

Anyway I'm back to the house tomorrow morning so I'll be leaving this as a surprise for my husbands Friday night supper. If he doesn't like it Anne, I blame you ( and you are not allowed back in Florida ;-) ).

  • 10 slices of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon rashers, sliced
  • 1 handful rosemary, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound chuck steak, minced, or best minced beef
  • 1 wineglass of red wine
  • 1 level teaspoon dried oregano
  • 14 ounce tin of tomatoes
  • 7 ounce tube of tomato puree or 1 small jar sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 1 handful of fresh basil
  • 2 handfuls of grated Parmesan or strong Cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2.  In a large hot pan that can go in the oven, fry the pancetta and rosemary in a little olive oil until lightly golden.
  3. Then add the onion and garlic and fry for a further 3 minutes, until softened, before adding the minced beef.
  4. Stir and continue frying for 2 to 3 minutes before adding the wine.
  5. Reduce slightly, then add the oregano, all the tomatoes, and the tomato puree.
  6. Season well to taste, bring to the boil, cover with greaseproof paper or a lid, and place in the preheated oven for an hour and a half.
  7. Towards the end of the cooking time, put your spaghetti into a large pot of fast-boiling salted water until al dente (check the packet for cooking time).
  8. When it's cooked, drain it in a colander.
  9. Just before serving, add some ripped-up fresh basil to the sauce.
  10. Serve with your spaghetti and some grated Parmesan or strong Cheddar.
Thanks Jamie, I'll let you know what he thinks..!


Restaurant Review - 'M' at the Point, Mandurah, Western Australia

Date: September 13th, 7pm
Dining: Just me
Price: AUS$54 (approx $40)
Meal: Fish of the day, roasted vegetable side dish, glass of local red wine

Downstairs underneath the Sebel Hotel is 'M at the Point' restaurant. ' Unique Modern Australian cuisine that may include anything from a wagyu beef burger to a delicious gourmet pizza.' was the description...sounded good to me!.

I love eating fish in Australia and had the fish of the day...not sure what it was called but it was delicious. Served on a bed of roasted potatoes and a creamy sauce, I soon polished the lot. It went very well with my large glass of cabernet sauvignon, which was from a Margaret River vineyard. I did make a mistake in ordering the roasted vegetable side dish as it was so large - enough for 4, but again yummy.
The staff are young, but were polite and well trained. This is not silver service but professional and friendly. I did have to take my bill to pay at the exit which is a pet peeve, this was not a diner, so marked down a little for that, but all in all recommended. Not the cheapest, but the food was note worthy.
Service: good
Food: above average
Price: a little pricey

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I've not made Margaritas before, but had one (or two!) at a friends on Sunday...so easy and no measuring involved..its all in the can!

For 4 Margaritas 
  • 1 can of Minute Maid frozen limeade mix
  • Tequila - use something nice like Gold - not the gut rot stuff!
  • 1/2 bottle of a light beer - like Presidente or Corona
  • Ice
  • Salt and Lime to serve

1. In a mixer combine the limeade then fill empty can with tequila and add to mixer. Then add the beer. Whizz on medium to combine - you can now add some extra ice for more 'frozen'.
2. Use a lime to 'wet' the rim of the glasses and then dip in salt
3. Serve!

Make sure you have extra limeade / and tequila..you still half a beer left!


Scrumptious Sausage Casserole

Although it's far from Fall (Autumn) here (92 F yesterday, phew!) it's still nice to have some warming food - just turn the AC down and pretend!

This scrummy sausage casserole is a little bit spicy, but you can leave the chilli out if you wish and it will still be delicious. Enjoy!

Preparation 10 mins
Cooking time 1 hr

Serves 4

  • 2 small red onions - chunked
  • 1 red bell pepper - chunked
  • ½ green bell pepper - chunked
  • 3 cloves garlic - chopped
  • ½ large red chilli – finely chopped
  • 1 cup (glass) red wine
  • 1 cup (glass) stock
  • 1 1/2 cups  mushrooms - quartered
  • 1 cup smoky bacon – chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup chorizo sausage – chopped into bite size pieces
  • 6 good quality sausages- high meat percentage cut into inch pieces (use scissors it's easier!)
  • 1 14oz (400g) tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 (200g) 7-8oz baked beans - in England in would use Heinz, however something like Bushes will work fine
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp mixed italian herbs
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Heat oven to 200C (390F)
3. In a casserole pot that you can use on the burners heat a little olive oil. Gently fry the sausage pieces, browning on all sides.
4. Add the bacon and chorizo and fry off for a few minutes until a little cripsy and the fat has rendered.
5. Remove meat from pan and add onions, peppers, garlic, chilli. Cook in meat juices for 5 minutes.
6. Add celery salt, herbs, chilli flakes and tomatoes – cook for 5 mins
7. Add wine, stock and mushrooms. Bring to boil then remove from heat.
8. Add back in the meat and stir in.
9. Cover and place in oven for 40 mins
10. Remove from oven and stir in baked beans. Cover and leave for 5 mins then stir and serve. The beans only need to heat through, we do not want them to break down....


Monday, October 5, 2009

Fake Jalapeno Popper Wontons

Along with the Fried Chinese Wontons we also took some of these delicious fake jalapeno poppers to the party. We love jalapeno poppers, but unless you eat them right away you can end up with a soggy mess...so how to get around that and still satisfy our craving...genius, we will create a filling to go in some wontons to mimic the taste of the jalapeno poppers..!! Yeah...please try these, you will not believe how good they are. Just serve them with some store bought sweet chilli sauce. Enjoy!

  • 2 ( 8oz) packs of cream cheese ( we used full fat Philadelphia, but I think you could lighten it up with low fat) - leave out of fridge to soften
  • 1 (4oz) can of chopped green chillies - drained
  • 1 (4 oz) can chopped jalapenos - drained
  • 1 cup of mayonaise (I used low fat as we had to hand)
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 packet of wonton wrappers (12 oz)
  • Canola or vegetable oil to fry in  
  1. Combine all the ingredients well in a large bowl
  2. On a flat surface lay the wontons out ( I do 4 at a time), and brush some water around the edges of each one.
  3. Place a heaped teaspoon of the chesse mixture in the centre of each wonton and then fold together. (if you prefere you could make triangles or other shapes, it is entirely up to you!)
  4. Repeat until all wontons are filled.
  5. Heat oil in a pan to a deep enough level to cover wontons. Deep fry the wontons until golden and crispy. Do not over fill the pan as you will bring the oil temp down and end up with soggy wonton...
  6. Drain and serve with the chilli sauce - delicious

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wanting Wontons....?

Ok this is the first blog of my new blog. My dog and I already write one...just day to day life goings on in sunny Florida..Yes, his name is Gary!!, however my friends have been trying to get me to write down all the wonderful recipes I come up with and finally I succumbed...so firstly a disclaimer.....

'If you should end up with food poisoning from any of my recipes....you were doing something wrong!

Ok so why were we here?...ahh yes the first of my recipe blogs, well actually there are two... Fried Chinese Wontons and Jalepeno Popper Wantons, but lets start with the Fried Chinese Wontons...

We were at a football party yesterday and my mother always taught me not to go empty handed...these are what I came up with. A variation on the chinese dumpling, they are a little fiddly and time consuming to put together, but my, are they tasty and are sure to get you the requisite oohs and aahs ..think firework display!


  • 350g (0.8 lb) ground pork
  • 4 green onions (scallions), thinly slicked
  • 3 tablespoons of Hoisin sauce, available in most supermarkets
  • 3 teaspoons of low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely grated
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 well beaten egg
  • 1 packet (12 oz) wonton wrappers
  • Canola / vegetable oil to fry
  1. Combine the pork, green onions, hoisin, soy sauce, garlic and ginger with the egg in a bowl.
  2. On a flat surface lay the wontons out ( I do 4 at a time), and brush some water around the edges of each one.
  3. Place a heaped teaspoon of the pork mixture in the centre of each wonton and then pinch together. (if you prefere you could make triangles or other shapes, it is entirely up to you!)
  4. Repeat until all wontons are filled.
  5. Heat oil in a pan to a deep enough level to cover wontons. Deep fry the wontons until golden and crispy. Do not over fill the pan as you will bring the oil temp down and end up with soggy wonton...
  6. Drain and you are ready to serve.
Don't worry about the raw pork. The heat of the oil cooks the small amount through and they continue to cook as the drain.

I served with a little homemade sauce with the left over hoisin sauce...

  • 2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  1. Combine together and chill


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