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!)
Week Forty One: Wednesday 23rdJune 2021
Happy 1st Birthday to Menu Mistress!!…yes, unbelievably, it’s a year since I posted my first blog and recipes! When I first started Menu Mistress, it was a decision I made almost overnight, on a whim, and out of lockdown boredom. I was, like all of us, cooking far more than ever at home due to the Covid situation, so I decided I would make my daily cooking routine more interesting by making use of my extensive ‘library’ of cookbooks. I have always loved whiling away hours skimming through cookbooks and Covid gave me a really good reason to try all the recipes I had earmarked over the years. Talking with friends in those first few weeks of lockdown, I soon realised that not everyone shared my enthusiasm for studying cookbooks, searching out new recipes and cooking different dishes. On the contrary, many of them were fed up with the thought of deciding what to prepare for yet another dinner at home. Often the easy option was to cook what they cooked last week, but by keeping it simple they were in a rut. So, I decided that it would be fun to share, online, the simple recipes, that I had tried and tested from my large collection of cookbooks. I surprised even myself by becoming a ‘blogger’!… On a personal level, the best thing about Menu Mistress is that it is something that I do for myself, I enjoy it more than I ever expected to. I actually didn’t think I would still be ‘blogging’ a year later, but it has been strangely addictive. It has also been great for my cooking skills because, in my search for new recipes to share, it has encouraged me to try those which perhaps I would never have cooked before!
Anyway, enough of Menu Mistress nostalgia and on to this week’s recipes!…As I have been sharing recipes for a year now, I thought it might be an idea to introduce ‘Blast from the Past’. I am sure that you have forgotten some of the earlier recipes I shared, so for this reason I have decided to repost one old recipe every month – one which I really don’t think you should overlook! So, for my first ‘Blast from the Past’, I’m sharing ‘Crab Chowder with Oat Bread’ which featured on my very first blog. It is a substantial soup, incredibly tasty and perfect for midweek as it is very quick to prepare. The bread is a personal favourite of mine. I am gluten free so I always make sure I have a loaf of this sliced up in the freezer ready to toast, but I must admit that it is particularly delicious fresh from the oven (with a slice of butter!). Even if you’re not gluten free, do try it with this chowder, it’s so easy to make; literally, it’s a question of mixing the ingredients, putting them in a loaf tin and baking for just under 1 hour… you will want to make it again and again!
Moving onto new recipes, this week’s Menu One is ‘Salmon Teriyaki with Cucumber Pickle’, to be honest, I can’t believe I haven’t shared this before now, as it is one of our family favourites. It is a recipe from the food editor of House & Garden magazine, Blanche Vaughan. There are many recipes for Salmon Teriyaki, but this is the best that I have come across, it’s not overly sweet, it has just the right balance of flavours, I like to think that it is quite authentic. The ‘Cucumber Pickle’ and the ‘Rocket & Radish Salad with Japanese Dressing’ complete this meal; together with some Japanese rice, they make a healthy, comforting dish. Menu Two is ‘Fillet Steak with Tarragon,’ as you may know, I do love meat, so can never say no to a piece of steak. I also adore tarragon, so the combination of the two is, in my opinion, heaven – what a great recipe to share on Menu Mistress’s 1st birthday! Menu Three, is a lovely, fresh ‘Vegetarian Summer Paella’. The flavours of this dish are perfect right now, rain or shine! Finally, as I’m celebrating my 1st birthday (!), it gives me the perfect excuse to share a cocktail. What better way to celebrate than with my new favourite champagne cocktail, which uses St Germain liquor, an elderflower liquor available at most supermarkets (or online). I would recommend you invest in a bottle as I am planning to share some other cocktails that use it!
Have a great week and don’t forget to pop by next week 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 Teriyaki, Cucumber Pickle and Rocket & Radish Salad with Japanese Dressing (Serves 4)
This is a recipe from the food editor of House & Garden magazine, Blanche Vaughan. There are many recipes for Salmon Teriyaki, but this is definitely the best that I have come across, it’s not overly sweet, it has just the right balance of flavours, I like to think that it is quite authentic. The ‘Cucumber Pickle’ and the ‘Rocket & Radish Salad with Japanese Dressing’, complete this meal – together with some Japanese rice they make a healthy, comforting meal. All the ingredients for the sauce can be kept for ages in your cupboard, so it makes a great last minute supper (I use the small bottles of cooking sake).
4 salmon fillets
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
10g caster sugar
50ml soy sauce (gluten free if required)
- Put the caster sugar, mirin, sake and soy sauce in a small frying pan and bring to the boil. Let the sauce bubble gently and reduce by almost half, until it becomes syrupy. You can do this ahead of time and it will keep, covered, in the fridge for a week or so.
- To cook the salmon, heat the oil in a frying pan. Sprinkle the salmon with salt and fry for a minute on each side to brown the skin and flesh, then add the teriyaki sauce and continue to cook until the salmon fillets are no longer translucent, basting them with the sauce.
- Remove the salmon to a plate and pour over the sauce. Serve with Japanese rice, Cucumber Pickle and Rocket & Radish Salad (recipes below).
1 cucumber, peeled, halved and seeds scraped out
2 tablespoons soy sauce (gluten free if required)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1-2 teaspoons sugar
3cm knob ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
- Slice the cucumber into half-moon slices, toss together with a large pinch of salt.
- Mix the other ingredients together and add the cucumber. Leave to marinate for half an hour before serving.
Rocket & Radish Salad with Japanese Dressing
150g radishes, halved
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce (gluten free if required)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- Place the rocket and radishes in a serving bowl.
- Whisk the rice vinegar, soy sauce and toasted sesame oil together and, just before serving, pour over the salad and toss to combine.
Fillet Steak with Tarragon (Serves 4)
I do love meat, so can never say no to a piece of steak, I also adore tarragon, so the combination of the two in this recipe is, in my opinion, heaven!…This recipe is delicious served with steamed asparagus and homemade oven chips (recipe below.
4 large open flat mushrooms
3 shallots, diced
120ml white wine
60ml double cream
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
A bunch of tarragon, leaves chopped
Sea salt and black pepper
4 fillet steaks (about 150g each)
- Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the mushrooms on both sides until golden. Keep warm until needed.
- Heat a little olive oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat and fry the shallots until soft and golden. Add the wine and simmer for 3 minutes, then reduce the heat and add the cream, mustard, garlic, tarragon and seasoning – do not allow to boil. Remove to one side and keep warm whilst you cook the steaks.
- Lightly brush the steaks with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and a little black pepper. Heat a frying pan until very hot. Place the steaks in the pan and cook for about 1½ minutes of each side for rare or a little longer depending on your taste.
- Serve the steaks on the cooked mushrooms topped with the sauce. They are delicious served with steamed asparagus and some homemade oven chips (recipe below).
‘Staple Side Dish’ Homemade Oven Chips (Serves 4)
I always serve these when we have steak; they are easy to prepare, proving that there is no need for a stinking chip pan in order to have good chips! It is important to use baking potatoes for this recipe as they crisp up better.
3-4 baking potatoes, depending on the size and how hungry you are
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
- Preheat the oven 200’c fan.
- Cut the potatoes into thick chips, there is no need to peel them.
- Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add the chips, boil for 4 minutes then drain well.
- Coat the chips with the olive oil and lay them out in single layer on a baking tray.
- Place in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, turning a few times during cooking.
- Serve immediately.
Summer Vegetable Paella (Serves 4)
This is a wonderful vegetarian take on the classic Spanish dish paella, it is from Ross Dobson’s cookbook ‘Market Vegetarian’.
A large pinch of saffron threads
6 tablespoons olive oil
200g cherry tomatoes
100g green beans, trimmed and halved
4 baby courgettes, halved diagonally
80g peas (fresh or frozen)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
320g Arborio rice
800ml vegetable stock (I use Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon)
30g flaked almonds, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan
- Put the saffron in a bowl with 65ml of hot water and set aside to infuse.
- Heat half the olive oil in a frying pan set over a high heat and add the tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes, shaking the pan so that the tomatoes start to soften and split. Use a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes from the pan and set aside.
- Add the beans, courgettes and peas to the pan and stir fry over a high heat for 2-3 minutes. Set aside with the tomatoes until needed.
- Add the remaining oil to the frying pan with the garlic and rosemary, and cook gently for 1 minute to flavour the oil.
- Add the rice to the pan and cook, stirring continuously, for about 2 minutes until the rice is shiny and opaque. Add the stock and the saffron with its water to the pan, increase the heat and bring to the boil, stirring to combine.
- When the stock is boiling rapidly, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes until almost all the stock has been absorbed.
- Scatter the tomatoes, beans, courgettes and peas over the rice, cover lightly with a lid or some foil and cook over a low heat for a further 5 minutes so that the vegetables are just heated through.
- Sprinkle with the almonds and serve.
And A Little Treat…
St Germain Champagne Cocktail
As I’m celebrating Menu Mistress’s 1st birthday, I have the perfect excuse to share a cocktail! What better way to celebrate than with my new favourite champagne cocktail, which uses St Germain, an elderflower liquor available at most supermarkets (or online). I would recommend you invest in a bottle as I am planning to share some other cocktails that use it!…
Tip: Put your champagne flute in the freezer before using it as it really does keep the champagne nicely chilled!
2 tablespoons St. Germain Liquor
2 tablespoons gin
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar syrup
Champagne to top up (about 1/2 glass)
- Place the St. Germain, gin, lemon juice, and syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake 15 seconds until cold. Strain the liquid into a champagne flute.
- Simply top off the glass with champagne and serve!
‘Blast From The Past’ Recipe
Crab Chowder served with Oatmeal Bread (Serves 4)
This is a recipe that featured on my very first blog. It is a substantial soup, incredibly tasty and perfect for midweek as it is very quick. The gluten free Oatmeal Bread is a personal favourite of mine, I always make sure I have a loaf of this sliced up in the freezer ready to toast, but I must admit that it is particularly delicious fresh from the oven (with a slice of butter!). Even if you’re not gluten free, do try it with this chowder, it is so easy to make – literally, it’s a question of mixing the ingredients together and putting them in a loaf tin and baking for just under 1 hour… you will want to make it again and again!…
Both recipes are Rachel Allen’s cookbook ‘Recipes from My Mother’ – as the name suggests, this is a book with lots of comforting recipes.
I used to buy the fresh crabmeat from my fishmonger but I have since discovered a fresh brand available in supermarkets called ‘Seafood & Eat it’ (great name!), which is very good, they sell it in 100g packs, one is pure white crab meat and the other is ‘fifty-fifty’ – half white, half brown, I find mixing these two packs gives the soup a fuller flavour. I actually use tinned, unsweetened corn for this recipe as opposed to frozen corn kernels, as I find that they have a softer texture and are sweeter, which I think works well with this particular recipe.
200g onions, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
300g potatoes, diced
600ml chicken stock (see note above)
200g sweetcorn kernels (see note above)
200g fresh crabmeat (I usually use 150g white/ 50g brown – see note above)
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
2 teaspoons of chopped tarragon
50ml of double cream
sea salt and black pepper
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat, add the onions and garlic with the salt and pepper. Cover and allow to sweat until soft but not coloured.
- Add the potatoes and cook for a further 5-10 minutes stirring occasionally so that they don’t brown.
- Add the stock, sweetcorn and milk, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through and are just beginning to thicken the soup.
- Finally, add the crabmeat, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, chopped herbs and cream. Check the seasoning and bring back to a gentle simmer, to heat through.
- Serve with lots of bread or the oatmeal bread (recipe below)
Oatmeal Bread (Gluten Free!)
425g rolled oats
A scant teaspoon of sea salt
2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons of mixed seeds
500g natural yogurt
- Preheat oven to 200’c fan. Line a 900g/1Ib loaf tin with baking parchment.
- Mix together the oats, salt, bicarbonate of soda and mixed seeds.
- Whisk the egg into the yogurt. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Scoop the dough into the tin and bake for 50 minutes.
- Turn out of the tin and bake the loaf for a further 10 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
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