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Creamy Courgette & Bacon Carbonara


Looking for a tasty pasta dish that wouldn’t break the calorie bank, I came across this little beauty on the BBC Good Food website. I’ve made a few little amendments and I think you’ll be really pleased you gave this one a go.

This carbonara style pasta dish is a healthy alternative to the real thing with the usual cream and eggs being replaced by crème fraîche, it loses none of its flavour in the making.

Serves 4

Total time 20 minutes.


  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 200g diced pancetta or smoked bacon lardons
  • 4 courgettes, coarsely grated
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • large handful freshly grated parmesan
  • 300g full or low-fat crème fraîche
  • 400g tagliatelle or spaghetti (I prefer spaghetti)


1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and sizzle the pancetta or bacon for about 5 mins until starting to crisp. Turn up the heat and add the grated courgette to the pan. Cook for 5 mins or until soft and starting to brown then add the garlic and cook for a minute longer. Season well with lots of black pepper.

2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the pack instructions and scoop out a cupful of cooking water before draining. Tip the pasta into the frying pan with the bacon and courgette. Over a low heat toss everything together with the crème fraîche and half the Parmesan adding a splash of pasta water too if you need to loosen the sauce. Season to taste and serve with the remaining Parmesan sprinkled over the top.


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Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

This is my first post for a while; I’ve been really busy working as a Sales Team Manager in my day job.

To ease myself back in to recipe posting,I thought I’d start with a soup recipe I enjoyed just the other night.

This version of a tasty, warming Chicken Noodle Soup uses a mixture of ingredients that give an unusual but very enjoyable flavour.

It’s a quick, easy recipe that is well worth trying!


  • 4 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips (you can used cooked chicken breast, if using, simply lay cooked chicken onto the noodles before adding the stock mixture)
  • 4 cups chopped Chinese vegetables (optional)
  • 1 pack of fresh egg noodles
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • 6 spring onions, thinly sliced on the bias


Mix the soy sauce, mirin, 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sugar, vinegar, and chile flakes in a small bowl.

Heat the broth in a medium saucepan. Add the soy sauce mixture, the chicken if using raw, and the vegetables and bring to a boil. Simmer for two minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Separate the noodles and cooked chicken if using into individual bowls.

Pour the soup over the prepared Chinese noodles. Garnish with coriander and spring onions.

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Six tricks to revive old food

Six tricks to revive old food

Ripe banana

Here’s some useful advice from the BBC website that might just save a few pennies on the foodstuffs you would normally throw away sooner than you need to.

Tesco has revealed more than two thirds of salad grown for bags is thrown out. What can be done to prolong the life of food, asks Kathryn Westcott.

Forty per cent of apples and just under half of bakery items are also uneaten. So what kitchen tricks can help?

Dampen the outside of a loaf of bread that has gone hard with a little bit of water and pop it in a hot oven – about 180C (350F) – for about five or 10 minutes, says food writer Stefan GatesBaguettes that are past their best are regularly cut into 1/2cm slices in the Gates’ household and put into a warm oven (about 50C, 120F) for about 15 to 20 minutes. “We use them as a form of biscuit for cheese,” says Gates. “They can be stored in a sealed plastic bag.”

Limp biscuits can also be revived in the oven. Five minutes in a hot oven (180C, 350F) should do it. This new-found freshness won’t last, though.

There are a number of tricks for keeping lettuce fresh and crisp. suggests separating the leaves and storing them in a bowl of water in the fridge. Replace the water every couple of days.

Culinary tips and tricks blog The Kitchn, however, favours the “bath towel method”, which entails cutting up greens, washing them, putting them in a salad spinner and spreading them on a clean towel to air dry for a few hours. Roll up the towel with the greens inside and secure with rubber bands. Just take out what you need for that day and bundle it up again, it suggests.

“Packet lettuce is preserved in gas and once it starts to go off, nothing will revive it,” says chef Clarissa Dickson Wright. But she says a Cos or Little Gem can be revived by leaving in really cold water – maybe with some ice cubes in – and leaving overnight.” Otherwise, she says, make lettuce soup. “Fry some onion and garlic, add stock and toss in the lettuce leaves. Top with croutons made from your old bread,” she says.

Cucumber that has gone limp can be revived by chopping off the end and standing it in cold water, according to Love Food Hate Waste. It also suggests freezing cheese and milk. Grate the cheese first and then put it straight from the freezer into sauces or lasagnes, etc.

Dickson Wright also suggests freezing bananas for ice cream. Peel them first then whizz them in a food processor.

Follow @BBCNewsMagazine on Twitter and on Facebook

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Nigel Slater’s: Cooking up a classic: what’s the recipe for a timeless cookery book?

Cooking up a classic: what’s the recipe for a timeless cookery book? | Life and style |


Historic cookbooks must compete for shelf space with modern-day classics. Photograph: Andreas von Einsiedel/Alamy

Last week a friend asked me to cast an eye over her extensive collection of cookbooks. She is moving house and won’t have shelf space for a library accumulated over years of preparing meals for family and friends.

What to keep? Anything of real sentimental value and for the rest, pack only well-thumbed classics. Question is: what makes a classic? With the recent death of Marcella Hazan, uncompromising voice of Italian food for the English-speaking cook, it’s particularly timely.

A quick search will produce plenty of classic cookery book lists, each interesting for its linguistic and cultural bias. An Observer list of the 50 best cookbooks of all time, for instance, included works by Elizabeth David, Jane Grigson, Nigel Slater, Richard Olney, Simon Hopkinson and Robert Carrier. On the other side of the Atlantic the same exercise would not be complete without Julia Child and Alice Waters, Fannie Farmer’s 1896 Boston Cooking-School Cookbook or Irma Rombauer’s 1931 titleThe Joy of Cooking.

Australian lists look to local talent first and then more often to familiar English writers such as the omnipresent Ms David. No Australian list would omit Margaret Fulton, Stephanie AlexanderMaggie BeerDavid Thompson and Charmaine Solomon. But after that the field is wide open: Janni Kyritsis, Damien Pignolet and many more. It should be added that very few authors produce multiple classics even if they go on writing many books.

There are some writers who make it onto multiple anglophone lists: Marcella Hazan, Elizabeth David, Alice Waters, David Thompson, Claudia Roden, and more recently, Fuchsia Dunlop. It’s an evolving and contested business, but what the classics have in common are elements of authority, style and innovation.

When it comes to putting together my personal classics, I look to the past. My current interest is in historical recipe books, particularly English classic cookery books of the 19th century, and what they reveal about the experience of those who wrote, published and used them.

In the fast-changing world of improved distribution, new wealth and cheaper costs of publishing, 19th century publishers were quick to sign up authors with any possible relevance to the burgeoning middle classes.

It was no great leap of imagination for publishers to ask celebrated chefs such as Alexis Soyer (high-profile society chef and all-round food entrepreneur) to turn out cookery books. And while Alexis’s titles proved popular – keeping his commercially prepared sauces and trademarked kitchen appliances in the minds of housekeepers – his books have not stood the test of time. Sound familiar?

It took Eliza Acton, a middle-class woman and experienced home cook, to strike a more enduring chord with her audience. Her authority came from years practising and perfecting her craft in her own kitchen. It shows itself on every page of her book, first published in 1845, Modern Cookery for Private Families: her directions are innovative and her writing free of condescension and laced with humour. Acton received no initial advance for her work but, unlike other female writers, had her name firmly imprinted on the cover. Overnight she made it respectable for women to write cookery books.

It was also Acton who added for the first time, lists of ingredients, cooking times and measurements for her recipes as well as highlighting common problems the home cook might encounter. What we now take for granted in a cookery book, she detailed in stylish prose derived from her earlier calling as a minor published poet.

She advocated seasonal fresh produce, less sugar than is popular today and was remarkably light in her dishes. She was also an outspoken advocate of unadulterated ingredients and the serious pleasure of preparing wholesome food for the table. Her book was, as its title promised, “modern” in every way; a hugely successful cookery book that stood the test of time to become a classic.

What titles would you add to your classic list?

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Chicken Quesadillas – Taco Bell Style!

images-4Taco Bell takes the fast food quesadilla into new territory with three different cheeses and a creamy jalapeño sauce, all of which you can now cheerfully recreate in the comfort of your warm kitchen. Gather up the crew, since this easy recipe will make four of the tasty tortilla treats.


This recipe is garnered from  and is absolutely delicious. I’ve recreated it here, simply to spread the word. Try it!


For the creamy Jalapeño sauce:

  • ¼ cup Mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp Minced Jalapeño Slices (Bottled)
  • 2 tsp Juice From Jalapeño Slices (From The Bottle)
  • ¾ tsp Sugar
  • ½ tsp Paprika
  • ½ tsp Ground Cumin
  • ¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • ¼ tsp Garlic Powder
  • Pinch Salt

Other ingredients:

  • 4 Chicken Breast Tenderloins
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Salt And Pepper
  • 4 large Flour Tortillas (10-Inch)
  • 1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 cup Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 2 slices American Cheese


1. First, prepare the creamy jalapeño sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill so the flavors develop. Stir occasionally.

2. Preheat your grill to medium heat.

3. Rub the chicken tenderloins with vegetable oil. Salt and pepper both sides of each tenderloin. Grill for 3 to 5 minutes per side. When the chicken is done, slice it very thin.

4. When you are ready to build your quesadillas, preheat a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. 

5. When the pan is hot, lay one tortilla in the pan. Arrange about ¼ cup of shredded cheddar cheese and ¼ cup of shredded jack cheese on half of the tortilla. Tear up half a slice of American cheese and arrange it on the other cheeses. 

6. Arrange about ¼ cup of sliced chicken over the cheese.

7. Spread about 1 tablespoon of jalapeño sauce over the tortilla on the half with no ingredients on it.

8. Fold the sauced-covered half of the tortilla over onto the ingredients on the other half and press down with a spatula. Cook for about 1 minute, then turn the quesadilla over and cook for a couple more minutes, or until the cheese inside is melted. Slice into 4 pieces and serve hot. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

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Raspberry & Milk Chocolate Cheesecake


I don’t often make cakes or sweets, but this easy cheesecake looks like it took hours to make even though it didn’t. It’s gorgeous, give it a try!


180 g Digestive Biscuits
75 g Melted Butter
100 g Milk Chocolate
300 g Cream Cheese
200 ml Double Cream
75 g Sugar
150 g Raspberries
Icing Sugar
Chocolate Melted, to serve (optional)


Difficulty: Easy
Yield: Serves 4
Keywords: Cheesecake, raspberry, Cakes

1. Crumble the digestives in a food processor, add the melted butter and mix well. Place in a 20cm flan ring with a push-up base and pat down with the back of a spoon.
2. Melt the chocolate in a microwave or a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
3. Mix the cream cheese, cream and sugar together until smooth.
4. Add the raspberries and stir in, then add the melted chocolate and quickly swirl through.
5. Spoon into the flan ring and smooth the top with a palette knife, then place in the fridge and chill for 2 hours.
6. Serve dusted with icing sugar and a little melted chocolate if you like.
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Fudgy coconut brownies

I’ve never been one for baking much, nor am I used to creating sweets or puddings, but I discovered this little beauty of a recipe on the BBC Good Food website and decided to give it a try.

Not only was the recipe easy to follow, with a minimum of effort required to assemble the short list of ingredients; the resulting brownies taste great and are a perfect treat to enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee. Alternatively, they might be served with hot custard as a special pudding course.

Dense and gooey, these treats are made with cocoa rather than bars of chocolate



100g cocoa
250g butter
500g golden caster sugar
4 eggs , beaten
100g self-raising flour
100g desiccated coconut
icing sugar , to dust (optional)


Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Line the base of a 21cm square tin with baking parchment.

Put the cocoa, butter and sugar in your largest saucepan and gently melt, stirring so the mixture doesn’t catch. When the cocoa mixture is melted and combined, cool slightly, then stir in the eggs, little by little, followed by the flour and coconut.

Tip into the tin and bake for 45 mins on a middle shelf – check after 30 mins and cover with another piece of baking parchment if the crust is browning too much.

Cool in the tin, then carefully lift out and cut into squares.


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Coconut-Curry Chicken Thighs

Indianchickencurry-e1351620528620I found this recipe at and I’ve reproduced it here as I found it.

I cooked the dish with a few minor adjustments and it was an immediate hit with the family and one that I’ll definitely cook again!

I used full fat coconut milk instead of light, I substituted some diced new potatoes instead of sweet potato, I used two tablespoons of Madras curry paste instead of the curry powder and I omitted the peas. You can make your own choice of which version to go with, or experiment to suit your own taste.

Let me know how it turns out!

Fragrant and fantastic! This one-pot wonderful, super-savory supper can be made in about 30 minutes. Serve on a bed of brown basmati rice, quinoa or whole wheat couscous. Continue reading

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The Hairy Dieters – Gorgeous Fish Stew with Garlic Croutons

Here I’ve borrowed another recipe from the Hairy Bikers’ recent book ‘The Hairy Dieters, How to love food and lose weight’.

Hairy Dieters Fish Stew

My daughter Laura has made this for us a couple of times and it really is a delicious one-pot dinner.

Give it a try, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

Continue reading

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