Let’s Start Cooking!…
Welcome to Menu Mistress…
I love cookbooks and have an extensive collection! The idea of Menu Mistress is to share recipes from these books, that I have tried and tested. All you have to do is add the ingredients to your shopping list and follow the recipes, thus injecting some fresh flavours into your home cooking. This blog is essentially for people who love food but don’t have the time, energy or patience to find that winning recipe – that’s the job of Menu Mistress!…
(Recipes are updated every two weeks on a Wednesday, with an extra ‘Tuesday Treat’ on alternate weeks – sign up at the bottom of the page to receive a weekly reminder!)
Ricciarelli (Gluten Free)
I love these little Italian biscuits – sweet and almondy, they are the perfect complement to an espresso coffee but are equally good with just about anything! This recipe will make around 34 little biscuits, they only need to be small as they are quite sweet, but the problem is I can never seem to stop at eating just the one!…They are incredibly easy to make, however you do need to make them the day before baking as by allowing the uncooked biscuits to rest and dry out overnight they become deliciously chewy – they are totally worth the wait!…
2 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
225g caster sugar
Zest of one lemon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond essence
300g ready-ground almonds
Icing sugar for dusting
2x baking sheets lined with greaseproof paper
- Whisk the egg whites with the salt until they are stiff, then gradually whisk in the sugar until you reach a marshmallowy consistency. Now add the lemon zest, vanilla extract and almond essence along with the ground almonds, mix to form a quite hard paste.
- Shape into either small diamonds or little rounds (see photo), dusting your hands with icing sugar to stop the mixture becoming too sticky. Lay them on the prepared baking sheets and leave to dry out overnight.
- The following day, cook the riccarelli in a preheated oven, 140’c fan, for about 30 minutes, by which time they should be pale and slightly cracked. Leave to cool.
- Finally dust with icing sugar and serve. They will keep well in an airtight container
Week Forty Seven: Wednesday 15th September 2021
As we move out of the summer into September, I have been thinking of recipes that will break us gently into the cooler weather. September is one of my favourite months as often, although the evenings are cooler, we get a little warmth from the sun during the day, therefore, we don’t necessarily need the heavier, comforting meals of the autumn quite yet. With this in mind, I thought that I would share two of my favourite recipes which feature warm salads. Both use lentils, so on a cooler evening, they are substantial enough to be satisfying yet are still light. Menu One is ‘Salmon with Lentils, Peas, Green Beans & Tarragon’, it is a recipe with lovely fresh end-of-summer flavours; you could use another fish, such as sea bass, the important thing is to crisp up the skin. Menu Two is ‘Rump of Lamb with Puy Lentils & Beans’, this is a recipe which I found over ten years ago in Gordon Ramsay’s cookbook ‘Healthy Appetite’. Not only is this recipe healthy but extremely tasty and, in my opinion, it’s not just good enough to serve to family but also great for dinner party guests. Finally, Menu Three is a very satisfying pasta dish, which again is a recipe that has clean, fresh, ‘September’ flavours; ‘Penne with Broccoli, Chilli & Pine Nuts’, will be on the table from start to finish in 15 minutes – it makes a great midweek meal!
Enjoy your week, and don’t forget to pop by next Tuesday for my Tuesday Treat!…
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A little bit of housekeeping…
To find all the recipes from my blogs go to the Recipes page, where there is a link to print them off.
Oven Settings – All my recipes presume that you are cooking with a fan oven, increase the temperature by 20’c for conventional ovens without a fan.
‘Staple Side Dishes’ – when you see this beside a recipe, it indicates that I have previously published this side dish on Menu Mistress. I have re-published it so that you don’t have to trawl through my old recipe blogs to find it – Menu Mistress is about making your life in the kitchen easier!
Gluten Free – I am gluten free, so most of my recipes are gluten free, although I must stress that if you have an allergy please double check all ingredients. If flour is used you can substitute it with gluten free flour and likewise with other ingredients such as pasta or soy sauce, you can use gluten free options.
Most of the recipes on Menu Mistress are courtesy of the creativity of cookery book writers, old and new. The recipes are an ‘amuse-bouche’ for those available in the books. Please go to my Cookbooks page for more information.
Salmon with Peas, Green Beans, Lentils & Tarragon (Serves 4)
This dish has lovely fresh, clean flavours; you could use another fish, such as sea bass, the important thing is to crisp up the skin!
4 fillets of salmon, skin on
300g peas, defrosted if frozen
200g fine green beans
150g puy lentils
½ cucumber, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped
Handful of pea shoots or rocket
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Sea salt and black pepper
4 lemon wedges (to serve)
For the dressing:
Juice of 1 lemon
A large pinch of English mustard powder
Sea salt and pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
- Cook the lentils according to the instructions on the packet (in boiling water for about 20 minutes). Drain.
- Season the skin of the salmon, then place in a hot oven-proof pan with a little oil, skin-side down. Cook for 3-4 minutes then season the flesh and turn over, so they are skin side up. Place in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for 8-10 minutes until just cooked.
- Meanwhile top and tail the green beans, then blanch in a pan of boiling water for 3-5 minutes until just tender. Drain.
- Place the peas, cooked beans and lentils, cucumber and pea shoots (or rocket) in a large bowl, then scatter with the herbs and lemon zest.
- Prepare the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, mustard powder and salt and pepper with the olive oil. Use this to dress the lentil and bean salad.
- To serve, spoon the salad onto plates alongside the salmon with a wedge of lemon.
Rump of Lamb with Puy Lentils & Green Beans (Serves 4)
This is a recipe which I found over ten years ago in Gordon Ramsay’s cookbook ‘Healthy Appetite’. Not only is this recipe healthy but extremely tasty and, in my opinion, it’s not just good enough to serve to family but also great for dinner party guests. The puy lentils and beans are flavoured with just a splash of balsamic vinegar, they complement the lamb beautifully. It’s best to marinate the lamb overnight, then on the day of cooking there really is very little to do…
4 thick rumps of lamb, about 220g each
A few thyme sprigs
A few rosemary sprigs
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly crushes
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the lentils & green beans:
250g puy lentils
A few thyme sprigs
A few rosemary sprigs
½ head garlic, cut horizontally
800ml chicken stock
300g fine green beans, topped and tailed
Splash of balsamic vinegar
- Trim the lamb of any sinew, then place in a dish along with the herbs, coriander seeds, peppercorns and olive oil – toss to coat and leave to marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours, preferably overnight.
- To cook the lentils, put them in a saucepan with the herbs and garlic, then pour over the stock. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until they are tender. Drain the lentils, reserving the stock and discarding the herbs and garlic.
- Top and tail the beans and cut in half, into shorter lengths. Blanch the beans in a pan of boiling water for 3-5 minutes until just tender. Drain and refresh in a bowl of iced water, drain again and set aside.
- Sprinkle the lamb with a little salt and sear over a high heat for 2-3 minutes in an oven proof pan, then turn over and cook the other side for 2 minutes until browned, finally sear the fatty edge. Place the pan with the lamb in a preheated oven, 190’c fan, for 9-10 minutes until medium rare. Place on a warm plate and pat with kitchen roll to remove the excess fat, cover with foil and leave to rest for 5 minutes whilst you finish off the lentils and beans.
- Pour off most of the fat from the pan and tip in the lentils and beans. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar, a little of the reserved stock and some seasoning. Toss over a high heat for a few minutes to warm through.
- Spoon the lentils and beans onto plates. Thickly cut each rump of lamb and arrange on top. Finally drizzle with any of the remaining pan juices.
Penne with Broccoli, Chilli & Pine Nuts (Serves 4)
This is a very satisfying pasta dish with light, fresh flavours and better still, it will be on the table from start to finish in 15 minutes!
*You could cook the broccoli by adding it to the pasta pan towards the end of cooking, but I prefer to cook it separately as in this way you can be sure that it will not be overcooked.
350g penne or other short pasta
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 red chillies, finely chopped
1 broccoli head, about 350g, cut into small florets
50g pine nuts, toasted (in dry frying pan)
- Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain, reserving about 2-3 tablespoons of cooking water.
- Meanwhile cook the broccoli in boiling water for about 3 minutes until just tender – but still has ‘bite’. Drain.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the garlic and chilli and cook gently for about 5 minutes.
- Finally, add the drained pasta and broccoli to the pan with the garlic and chilli. Toss to combine adding a little of the reserved cooking liquid to loosen.
- Serve sprinkled with the toasted pine nuts.
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