My sunshine paella with chorizo and king prawns

Two things I love…food and art, and if it tastes great and looks a picture why not mix the two. And speaking of love, a short story! Down a a side street in Valencia, whilst enjoying the warm sultry evening air …it was there I had my first. And yes it took me by surprise….so much more seductive than I’d expected, intense with such a depth of flavour ( haha now I’m going all masterchefy on you) I really did fall in love.

sunshine paella with chorizo and king prawns
1 LARGE frying pan or paella pan
Olive oil
1 onion finely diced
1 large chorizo cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tsp smoked paprika
500g paella rice
1.5 litres chicken stock or mix of chicken and vegetable stock
Frozen green beans
Handful of frozen sweetcorn
Half a yellow pepper thinly sliced
Defrosted king prawns (as many or as little as pleases you)
1-2 lemons sliced

Heat your LARGE pan with a good glug of olive oil. Gently sweat the onion. Add in the chorizo and seal. Add the purée, garlic and paprika and cook for a few minutes. Throw in the rice, coat it in the tomato base and cook and stir for another minute or two. Add the chicken stock and stir thoroughly. Cook for 10 minutes give it one last stir then turn down the heat and cook for another ten minutes. At this point make your “sun”, a handful of sweet corn. The rays, green beans and pepper. Throw in your prawns pushing them beneath the surface to cook. (If your prawns are very large or you are just nervous you, could fry them off in a pan first) Cover the pan tightly with tin foil and turn up the heat a little. You should start hearing the rice popping as it caramelises on the bottom. This is called the “socorat” and adds the depth of flavour authentic paella has. But be warned you don’t want it burnt but only caramelised. After three or four minutes once the prawns are cooked take the tin foil off and serve with wedges of lemon.


Twice cooked crispy chilli beef

Aha, don’t be fooled by the posh sounding “twice cooked” title, do I sound like a girl who spends hours over dinner….ok, ok, so sometimes I do but this isn’t one of those occasions. The fact that the beef is not just cooked once is due to the fact that it’s already been cooked the night before…ie roast beef leftovers. I love a good leftovers recipe, and seeing as I cook roast beef quite regularly it’s good to have some crafty ways of reinventing it for the next days dinner!

twice cooked crispy chilli beef
Vegetable oil
350g leftover roast beef finely sliced into strips
3 tbsp corn flour
2 tsp Chinese five spice
1 red pepper sliced
100g baby sweetcorn halved and chopped
100g mangtout
4 spring onion sliced
2 garlic cloves crushed
2in piece of ginger very finely sliced
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
Noodles to serve

Heat a couple of inches of oil in your wok till nearly smoking hot. Mix the corn flour and Chinese five spice together and toss the beef till it’s coated. Cook the beef in the oil in batches until nice and crispy. Drain it on kitchen towel.
Pour away most of the oil leaving about a tablespoon in the wok. Add the pepper, sweetcorn, mangtout, spring onion, garlic and ginger. Toss and cook for a few minutes, making sure not to burn the garlic.
In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, so sauce, sweet chilli sauce, ketchup and two tablespoons of water. Add to the wok and cook for two minutes. Throw in the beef and cook for a further two minutes till heated through and covered in the sauce. Serve with noodles.

A quick little dinner for you

Who doesn’t have a bit of pasta in the cupboard, and I always have some smokey bacon in the fridge, the perfect thing to make a quick and easy dinner for those nights when you don’t have much time or energy. I usually make, either a tomato sauce or a cream sauce so this is a first for me….a creamy tomato sauce! Oh, I really pushed the boat out this time, didn’t I!


creamy tomato and bacon linguine
500g linguine
Olive oil
1 onion finely diced
1 stick of celery finely diced
1-2 garlic cloves crushed
6 slices of smokey bacon diced
1 courgette diced
500g passata
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tsp of dried basil
1/2 tsp oregano
100g full fat cream cheese ( like Philadelphia, I use aldi equivalent)
Grated Parmesan to sprinkle over
Cook your linguine in salted boiling water for around ten minutes or until al dente. Meanwhile sweat your onions and celery until soft then turn up the heat and throw in your bacon and fry off. Add the courgette and garlic and cook for a further two minutes. Pour in the passata and add the purée and herbs and cook for another five or so minutes. Now add the cream cheese and allow to melt in and stir it through.
Drain off the linguine and add the sauce, mix thoroughly and serve. Sprinkle over the Parmesan. Enjoy with a well deserved glass of wine!

Wheaten soda bread

Go buy yourself some buttermilk….I promise you you won’t regret it, and that is the hardest thing about making this bread. The rest a three year old could do. It’s that quick, your oven won’t have had time to heat up so you really have to turn it on as soon as the urge takes you! I’ve gone with a mix of double the wholemeal to white flour but I actually love all wholemeal just as much, you decide what you’d prefer. I triple the recipe and it make three loaves, which uses an entire litre of milk so you don’t even have to measure that! Then you can stick two in the freezer, even more laziness! This bread is so tasty with a bowl of warming soup or even better with cheese.

wheaten soda bread

225g coarse wholemeal flour
110g plain white flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp treacle (optional)
330 ml buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 200C. Lightly grease your loaf tin. Place all the dry ingredients into a bowl and with a hand whisk (not electric) mix everything well. Add the wet ingredients and mix well to make a wet dough. Pour into your tin and level the mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes until well risen and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Leave to cool.

Wontons two ways

Please tell me that I’m not a sad human being, when a present of a new bamboo steamer causes me great excitement?!! I mean, why does a piece of cooking equipment make me happy? But it does and I can’t help it. I start immediately looking forward to trying out new recipes, ooh the possibilities, where to start. What about wontons….steamed and just in case that’s just a little too healthy some deep fried ones also!


wontons two ways
wonton dough
250g plain flour
1 egg
5-6 tbsp water

Whisk the egg lightly and add the water and whisk again. Stir in the flour and form a stiff dough. Knead lightly and cover with a damp cloth for 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough to about the thickness of a twenty cent coin and cut 24 squares 7cm squares. Cover with the damp cloth to keep it from drying while your filling them.

pork wonton filling
225g pork mince
110g Chinese leaves
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 garlic clove minced
1 tsp of ginger minced
1/2 tbsp of rice wine
1/2 tsp of sesame oil
1/2 tsp of corn flour

Finely chop the Chinese leaves, place in a bowl and stir the salt through. Leave for 30 minutes and squeeze all the water out. Put all the other ingredients on top of the Chinese leaves. Using your hands, mix everything together until it’s completely amalgamated.

Now it’s time to make up your wontons… Get your square wonton wrapper and place a teaspoon of the pork filling in the center.

Turn the square so it’s facing you like a diamond. Take two opposite points and bring together, doing the same with the other two points, bringing them all together.


Using your fingers seal the edges, with the seal facing out wards.


steamed wontons
Place a banana leaf onto your bamboo steamer and put your wontons on top.


Put the steamer onto your wok and turn the flame up high. Pour enough water to go up one inch of the side of the steamer and steam the wontons for 15-20 minutes.(making sure top keep topping up with boiling water as it cooks)


deep fried wontons
Heat up vegetable oil till it’s quite hot but not smoking hot. Fry your wontons for five minutes till golden and crispy and cooked through.

dipping sauce
50 ml soy sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp Sesame oil
1 clove of garlic minced
1/2 tsp of ginger minced
1/2 tsp sugar
1 spring onion finely sliced
1/2 red chilli finely sliced(optional)
Combine the ingredients and leave to infuse for half an hour. Warm before serving.

Thirty minutes to soup

One sick little girl, who doesn’t want mum to do anything but cuddle means not much is getting done today. Even Cinderella didn’t work, I tried to sneak off and make soup but just as I was sweating the onions I heard I little voice, “mum, I need you”. So, hoping for the best I threw everything in and turned it down to simmer and settled down to see Cinderella get the makeover of a lifetime and fall in love with the prince of her dreams.

smokey tomato and sweet potato soup
2 onions diced
3 garlic cloves crushed
2 large sweet potatoes chopped into cubes
500g passata
500ml chicken stock
500ml vegetable stock
2 tsp smoked paprika
Bunch of fresh thyme
Sweat the onions in olive oil till soft. Add the garlic and gently cook for a minute. Then add all the other ingredients and bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer for twenty minutes or until the sweet potato is soft. Take out the thyme stalk and blend the soup. If it’s a little thick add some water and don’t forget to season.

A homely Indian dinner…Keema matar

Ok, so you love Indian, but you don’t have too much time for complicated recipes that make you grind toasted whole spices and has a million different stages. Yes, believe me, those recipes are well worth it, but today you only have the head for a spaghetti bolognese or something like it. Well here’s a little recipe on that kind of level but it doesn’t leave you disappointed when it comes to that Indian flavour.

keema matar minced lamb with peas
500g minced lamb
1 large onion diced
2tbsp groundnut oil
1 potato diced
1tsp chilli powder
1tbsp turmeric
1tbsp ground coriander
1/2tbsp fresh grated ginger
1/2tbsp crushed garlic
1tbsp garam masala
3 curry leaves
1tsp salt
200g chopped tomatoes
250ml water
4tbsp natural yogurt
2tbsp lemon juice
150g frozen peas
Chopped fresh coriander

Start by tipping all the spices, ginger, garlic, salt and one tablespoon of oil onto the minced lamb. Using your hands squash all the spices through the meat till it’s incorporated thoroughly (I love this part!). In a large nonstick pan, heat the other tablespoon of oil and gently sweat the onions till they are soft. Add the mince and potato and brown. Throw in the tomatoes, yogurt and water and simmer for 20-30 minutes (adding more water if its drying up). Add the lemon juice and frozen peas and cook for a further 5-10 minutes, making sure the potato is cooked. Serve with rice or Indian breads and sprinkle with coriander.