Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Leeks, Spinach and Goat Cheese

The pork tenderloin I had for dinner gave me the opportunity to use the last handful of baby spinach leaves and the bit of goat cheese in the fridge. I decided to include a leek, and some of the fresh parsley that were also in there.

Not only did it look amazing, it tasted great! Moist pork, peppery leeks, tangy and creamy goat cheese. With the bulk of the work being done ahead....cooking the leeks and stuffing the pork...this was an easy meal, served with a tray of roasted potatoes, carrots, parsnips and shallots.

The leftover pork made us some very tasty sandwhiches for lunch today, with some mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and fresh tomatoes. Yummy, twice over!

Using a bit of olive oil, cook until soft:

1 leek, sliced
Salt and Pepper

When the leeks are soft, add:

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Remove from the heat and allow the leeks to cool completely.

When the leeks are cool, cut the pork lengthwise, starting from the middle and cutting out along each side so that it can be laid flat, as shown.

Season with salt and pepper.

Place a layer of fresh spinach on the cut side of the pork.

Spread the leek and parsley mixture over the top of the spinach.

Sprinkle the leeks and spinach with:

1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese

Working with the long side of the pork facing you, roll the pork up around the filling.

Tuck the ends over and tie with kitchen twine or string.

Season with salt and pepper.

In a very hot pan, using olive oil, sear all sides of the pork.

Place the whole pan into a 375F oven and roast until it is cooked through.

Remove from the oven and allow the meat to rest for 5 - 10 minutes.

Cut and remove the string, and slice the meat into 1/2" thick slices.

  • As far as the stuffing goes, onions or shallots can be used instead of leeks. They can both be cooked longer and caramelized, which will bring some sweetness to the stuffing. 
  • Other cheeses can be used...feta, cream cheese mixed with fresh herbs, Boursin, blue cheese.
  • The spinach can be replaced with other greens such as Swiss chard, arugula or beet greens.
  • The flavours can be varied by adding in things like chopped sundried tomatoes, olives, dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries, thinly sliced apple or pear, or even lightly toasted nuts.
  • Consider other meats...pork loin, boneless leg of lamb, chicken breast or beef tenderloin.
  • The pork can be stuffed up to one day ahead of time,and kept well wrapped in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook it.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Double Chocolate Almond Bars

I have been itching to bake something for a few days, and decided that today was the day to do it! There were two small good quality chocolate bars  that we were given for Christmas (yes, we have resisted eating them), as well as a partial jar of almond butter in the fridge. Perfect!

The almond butter was one that I had made as part of a Christmas gift basket, and had cocoa nibs, cinnamon, vanilla and Kahlua in it. So yummy, and it would be perfect for baking with.

I made a fudgy, chocolate bar, using the dark chocolate and almond butter in the batter, and folding in the white chocolate as chunks. I sprinkled some flaked almonds on top, adding a bit of crunch. These were very easy to eat, not as sweet as they seem they would be...and surprisingly enough, the Kahlua flavour came through.

The best part of this is that it is all mixed in one pot!

Start off by lining an 8" X 8" pan with foil, and lightly greasing it. Turn the oven on to 350F.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, over low heat, melt:

4 ounces butter

When the butter is half melted, add:

2 1/2 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate

Keep the heat on low, and stir until the chocolate and butter are completely melted. Remove from the heat.

Before adding the egg, make sure that the temperature of the melted butter and chocolate are slightly less than body temperature.

Whisk in:

1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk in:

1/3 cup almond butter (slightly heaped)

The mixture may appear to separate, but don't worry...it will come back together.

Whisk in:

1 cup brown sugar

Stir in:

1 cup flour

Lastly, stir in the white chocolate chunks:

2 1/2 ounces chopped white chocolate

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly.

Sprinkle the top with:

2 tablespoons flaked almonds

Bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the centre of the pan comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs attached.

This should take 20 - 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before cutting.

To serve, carefully remove the foil from the pan, peel the sides down and cut the into 16 bars or squares. Serve at room temperature, as is, or with vanilla ice cream.

  • This is a forgiving recipe, as it can easily be adjusted to what you have available.
  • Chocolate: any type or combination can be used, dark, white or milk; chocolate chips or chunks; shaved chocolate; chopped chocolate bars such as Skor bar.
  • The dark chocolate that is added to the butter can be omitted if you choose. You can also replace it by removing 1 tablespoon of flour and replacing it with cocoa.
  • Any nut butter will work...peanut, almond, cashew or even mixed nut butter.
  • As most nut butters do not contain Kahlua, if you like the idea of the coffee flavour, add 1/2  teaspoon of instant coffee to the melted butter and allow it to dissolve.
  • Up the almond by using almond extract instead of vanilla.
  • Spices such as cinnamon, ground ginger or even cayenne pepper can be added.
  • The bars are thin; if you want them to be thicker double the recipe, and bake for longer. 
  • The thinner bars can also be used to make ice cream sandwhiches: soften some ice cream, spread it onto half of the uncut bar and then place the other half on top. Freeze until the ice cream is firm, and then cut into portions using a hot knife.
  • These keep well in an airtight container, but I prefer to freeze them as I don't trust myself not to eat them all!

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Garlic, Yoghurt and Olive Oil Chicken Thighs

Crispy, breaded chicken thighs is something that is requested fairly often in our house. Looking around I decided to use the open tub of Greek yoghurt, the fresh parsley and half  a lemon that were in the fridge. There were two large containers of breadcrumbs in the freezer, as I had just turned all of my saved bread ends into crumbs.

My first thoughts with the yoghurt were to make something like tzatziki, but as I had no cucumber that was out of the question. Using it as a marinade made sense, as it is great for tenderizing. The olive oil added richness, flavour and moisture and the garlic, surprisingly enough, was stronger in aroma than taste...I still wouldn't advise eating this if you are heading out afterwards!

When this was baked the kitchen smelled amazing...and the crisp, crunchy breadcrumbs gave way to moist, juicy chicken that had subtle garlic and olive oil flavours.

Make the marinade by combining:

3/4 cup plain Greek yoghurt
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Scrape the marinade over the chicken thighs, making sure that all surfaces of the chicken are well coated. Cover and refrigerate for 4 - 6 hours.

You will need:

8 skinless, boneless, chicken thighs

When it is time to cook the chicken, heat the oven to 400F, and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper to catch any drips. This makes cleanup a lot easier! Place a rack on top and set aside until needed.

To make the breading, place the following into a food processor:

2 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Process until combined, and moist crumbs that are starting to stick together form.

Pour the crumb mixture onto a plate or tray, ready for breading the chicken.

Scrape any excess marinade off the chicken thighs, leaving a thin coating that will help the breadcrumbs stick.

Coat the chicken in the crumb mixture, pressing gently to help the crumbs stick.

Place onto the prepared baking sheet and rack.

Bake until the chicken is fully cooked and the crumbs are crisp, crunchy and golden.

This should take about an hour. If the crumbs are getting too dark, turn the oven temperature down to 350F - 357F after half an hour.

I served the chicken thighs with a spinach and romaine salad, that also had strawberries, toasted pumpkin seeds and goat cheese. The freshness of the salad was a nice contrast to the chicken, and this was a great middle of the week dinner.

  • For the marinade, buttermilk can be substituted for the yoghurt. They are both great for marinating and tenderizing. 
  • The chicken can be marinated overnight if you wish.
  • It seems like a lot of garlic, and you can use less if you wish to, but as I mentioned there was more of a garlic aroma during cooking than an overwhelming garlic flavour.
  • If you have a whole lemon, feel free to add some zest. My half lemon had been zested already, so I just used the juice.
  • Use the highest quality of olive oil that you can, as the flavour does come through.
  • The breadcrumbs I used were fresh, not dried or toasted. I save my bread ends in the freezer and when I have a large amount put them into the food processor, make breadcrumbs and then store them in the freezer.
  • Feel free to use any fresh herbs you have available...I had quite a bit of fresh parsley to use. Some choices to consider include chives, thyme, rosemary or oregano.
  • The granulated garlic I used is not the same as garlic powder. It has a consistency similar to salt. If you use garlic powder, use half the amount as it is more concentrated. I prefer not to use garlic salt, as I find it to be incredibly salty, but if that is all you have, use it and omit all salt from the marinade and crumbs.
  • The marinade and crumbs can be used on other meat...chicken breast, pork or lamb chops.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Baked Lemon-Passionfruit Pudding

Valentine's Day, and this is what I made for dessert....using up the extra passionfruit that I had frozen after making the Buttermilk Pannacotta with Passionfruit. I also had a partially zested lemon in the fridge, so used the remainder of the zest, as well as the juice.

This is a combination of souffle and self-saucing pudding...by baking the batter in a water bath a custard is created on the bottom of the dish. The whipped egg whites that are folded into the batter cause it to puff up like a souffle during baking, but this is a more stable dish and only falls slightly when it is cooled. It is light and fluffy, sweet and tangy, with a creamy custard in the bottom of the dish.

Bake this in one large dish, or in individual dishes as I did. It is not complicated to make, and can be prepared ahead of time, to be popped into the oven and baked whenever you are ready.

Whisk together:

1/4 cup passionfruit puree or pulp
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 egg yolks

Whisk in:

3/8 cup (6 tablespoons) milk

Whisk in:

1 1/4 ounces butter, melted and cooled

In a large bowl, measure the dry ingredients:

1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
Pinch of salt

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and whisk until combined.

Whip the 2 egg whites until soft peaks form.

Continue to whip the whites, slowly adding:

2 tablespoons sugar

Whisk until you have a stiff, shiny meringue.

Gently fold the meringue into the passionfruit batter.

Divide the mixture between 4 greased ramekins.

Refrigerate for half an hour.

Heat the oven to 350F, and place the ramekins into a baking dish. Place the dish onto a baking sheet to make it easier to get it all in and out of the oven.

Fill the baking dish with hot water, adding enough to come at least halfway up the side of the ramekins.

Bake until the pudding is puffed, golden, just starting to crack slightly and when gently pressed in the middle feels slightly spongy.

This should take 25 - 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and when the ramekins are cool enough to touch, remove from the water, and allow to cool to room temperature.

To serve, dust the top of the pudding with icing sugar, and garnish with fresh raspberries. This dessert can be served at room temperature, which I did, or it can be chilled before serving. Either way, this is a sweet, tangy and extremely delicious treat!

  • I found this recipe on the Immaculate Bites website, and made a few small changes based on what I had to use.
  • The passionfruit pulp I was using was canned, and was the remainder of a can, that had been frozen. Passionfruit puree or pulp, or a combination, can be used. Look for fresh passionfruit when in season, but any other time frozen or canned can be used.
  • If you are using fresh passionfruit, you will need the pulp from about two passionfruit.
  • The lemon zest and juice can be changed to lime, or you can use a combination of the two.
  • If you have coconut milk, use that instead of milk.
  • I left the passionfruit seeds in the pulp, as I think they look good in the dessert, and we enjoy the crunch. Remember that if you do choose to strain them out, you will need more than two fresh passionfruit.
  • Consider serving this with whipped cream to cut the sweetness. Tart fruits such as raspberries or blackberries will do the same thing.
  • The safest way to add the water to the baking dish is to put everything into the oven and then add the water. You will still have to take it all out when it is done, and slow and steady is the best way to do this.
  • Other fruit purees can be used. Try mango, apricot, Key lime or Meyer lemon.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Radish and Pear Slaw

Radishes are not something we eat very often...not for any specific reason, we just don't seem to buy them. I had some in the fridge to use, and wanted to do something other than thinly slice them and add them to a salad!

The last pear in the fruit bowl inspired me to combine the two in a slaw, and I dressed it with olive oil and rice wine vinegar.

I served the slaw with a mixed green salad, using the same dressing, topped it with the small piece of blue cheese in the fridge, and added some baked chicken thighs. The crisp, peppery radishes worked very well with the slightly softer, sweet pear. I think we might be eating more radishes....

I saved the radish greens, thinly slicing them and adding them to a risotto. No waste, which is the way I like it!


6 radishes, cut into matchsticks
1 pear, cut into matchsticks
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of salt

Add the dressing:

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil

Gently mix to combine, and coat the radish and pear with oil and vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve the slaw on its own, as a side salad, or as part of another salad as I did. I added it to mixed greens, green beans and blue cheese and added some baked chicken thighs.

  • Radishes have a lovely crisp texture, and a peppery flavour. Always taste one before adding them, sometimes they can be quite intense, and thinly slicing or cutting them into small pieces works best in this case.
  • Radishes can also be roasted, or sauteed, just like any other root vegetable.
  • Any firm, sweet fruit will be a complement to the radish...try apples, Asian pear or grapes.
  • Instead of radish, try jicama...it has a crisp texture, but sweeter taste than radish.
  • I sliced both the radish and pear on a mandoline. They can be grated instead.
  • The slaw can be made up to an hour ahead, as the vinegar will slow the oxidation of the pear.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Sausage, Pepper and Bean Soup

This is a chunky, hearty soup, full of colour, flavour and texture, perfect for a cold winter dinner.

We are back to the red peppers in my fridge...we bought more than we realised, but I have slowly been working my way through them, and this hearty soup used the last one.

I used to make this soup a lot, and for some reason haven't done so for quite a few years, but it came to mind when I had all of the peppers in the fridge. As I had a few cannellini beans and 2 containers of chicken stock in the freezer, it made sense to make this again...and after eating it, we both wondered why it's been so long since I last made it!

I used to make this with hot Italian sausages, but I had 2 roasted red pepper and asiago sausages in the freezer, and they worked really well. I allowed the flavours from the sausage and vegetables to season the soup, adding just the needed salt and pepper right at the end.

In a bit of olive oil, cook:

2 sausages, removed from the casings

Start on a low heat to release the fat from the sausage and then increase the heat to cook the sausage. Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside. Keep the pan to make the soup.

To the pan, add a bit more olive oil, and then cook until starting to soften:

2 medium carrots, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced

When the carrots and onions are soft, add the cooked sausage back to the pan.

Stir in:

1 large sweet red pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced

Now add the chicken stock, and then allow the soup to simmer until the carrots and onions are nice and tender.


4 cups chicken stock

Stir in:

1/2 cup cannellini beans, rinsed

Cook for a couple of minutes, and then taste and adjust the seasoning.  I needed only a small amount of salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with fresh grated Parmesan. Serve with warm crusty bread...your hearty, soul warming winter soup is ready to eat. Enjoy!

  • Any sausage will work, mine was a pork sausage with chunks of roasted red pepper and Asiago cheese in it. Use your favourite sausages, or any leftover sausages that were cooked for another meal.
  • Feel free to add extra vegetables such as celery, zucchini, butternut squash, turnip or leeks. Shredded greens such as kale or spinach can also be added. Diced, canned tomatoes can also be added.
  • The beans can be omitted if you like, or even increased and the sausage omitted, to make this a vegetarian soup (use vegetable stock instead of chicken).
  • The soup can be made a couple of days ahead of time; it can also be made and frozen.
  • The addition of fresh herbs such as thyme or parsley; spices such as fennel or cayenne pepper will add to the flavour.