Monthly Archives: April 2010

Dinner made deliciously easy…

Here’s what cooking in Savvy Cook’s kitchen week commencing 3rd of May….

Not quite BBQ weather yet, so we’ll play safe and rely on the oven. As the weather warms up and becomes more reliably sunny, we’ll include some dishes that can be prepared outside.

Want to be involved in developing Savvy Cook’s summer menu? Suggestions + ideas welcome! We’ll have a big cook-off and tasting session towards the end of May.



Baked chermoula salmon with sweet roast pepper, lemon & mint couscous


Greek style chicken fillets with a zesty Feta topping, rice and green beans


Plaice fillets with tapenade & tomatoes, wilted spinach and new potatoes


Polenta and Parmesan cakes, roast cherry tomatoes and fresh pesto


Baked trout on rosemary roast potatoes, horseradish-walnut creme fraiche, beetroot salad

If I may say so myself: yum – yum -yummy!


Next week’s dinner menu…


Crab cakes with red pepper dressing, Charlotte potatoes and watercress salad


Sticky lemon and ginger chicken, basmati rice and green beans


Oven baked chestnut mushroom and asparagus risotto, poached egg and Parmesan


Chilli tofu, sweet potato and soba noodles in a coconut coriander broth


Baked lamb koftas, balsamic roast tomatoes, tzatziki and rice

Favourite lunch this week: smashed peas, dill and Feta

I made this for Tuesday’s Women’s Food & Farming Union London’s meeting and it was very well received.

If you like fresh, zesty and texture this is for you!

Really quick and easy to make and works a treat with frozen peas until fresh peas are in season (June).

You could try substituting the dill with mint (but use less because mint easily overpowers everything else) or do half -and-half.

Blobbed onto toasted sourdough or Ryvita pumpkin seed crackers or scooped up with individual little gem lettuce leaves…

No picture I am afraid: I was in too much of  a hurry to take one when preparing for the WFU meeting and so greedy to eat the left-overs the next day I forgot…

I can tell you it looks beautiful: pea-green (obviously) with flecks of dark green + bright white.

Waitrose sell bags of ready washed pea shoot which would make a lovely garnish, but why not grow your own? A lot cheaper and fun.

Serves 4 as a starter

You will need:

150g peas (podded weight if using fresh)

1 garlic clove, green shoot removed and chopped very finely or use a garlic press or pestle & mortar

4 tbsp finely snipped fresh dill

100g Feta, crumbled

25g freshly grated Parmesan

2 tbsp lemon juice

2.5 tbsp olive oil (I have just opened a bottle of 2009 oil from the Fattoria La Vialla estate in Italy – very grassy + peppery, delish!)

This is what you do:

1. blitz the peas in a food processor: pulse for short burst, you want the peas to retain some shape. If using frozen, don’t bother defrosting the peas first.

2. tip into a bowl

3. add all the other ingredients and mix lightly until paste-like

4. check the seasoning: you’ll probably want to add some freshly ground black pepper but won’t need to add salt because the Feta and Parmesan add enough

5. now you are ready to tuck in but have a good sniff (or lung full) first: Spring on a plate!

Bon appetit!


Chase family “North Dakota” rhubarb cake: part 2

I tried to make this cake, a very old family recipe that originated in New England and then brought across the US in about 1860 when part of the Chase family headed West to the “badlands” of Noth Dakota.

Those of you who read Savvy Cook’s blog regularly may have seen my less than successful first attempt at baking this cake: the result was a dark brown cake, which tasted good, but with oozing centre of raw batter.

.... but still tasty

I probably did not “translate” the American measurements very well into metric, so below I give you the original recipe and my conversion.

Along with the addition of some cinnamon + vanilla (a dash of nutmeg or mixed spice could work well too) I also suggest that you put the rhubarb in the bottom of the tin instead of mixing it into the batter. Reason for this is that the rhubarb sinks to the bottom anyway, and this way you avoid the sides of the cake being punctuated with holes caused by softened chunks of rhubarb.

Do give it a go, whilst rhubarb is around.

It works well as a coffee cake, but could equally be served lukewarm as a pudding perhaps with a ball of good quality vanilla ice cream and/or some rhubarb compote.

Makes 2 x 1 kg loaf cake tins or 2 x 30cm spring forms, greased and lined with baking parchment

North Dakota rhubarb cakes ready to go into the oven

You will need:

4 eggs

2 cups (500ml) of buttermilk

3 cups (600g) of caster sugar

2 tsp of baking powder

4 cups (480g) of plain flour

4 cups (500g) of rhubarb, cut into 1cm slices

1 tsp of cinnamon

1 tsp of vanilla essence

25g of light brown muscovado sugar to sprinkle

Fresh from the oven!

This is what you do:

1. pre-heat the oven to 180C

2. using a handheld mixer, mix the eggs with the sugar until pale + creamy

3. add the buttermilk (or a mixture of 400ml of semi-skimmed milk + 100ml of plain yoghurt) + vanilla essence

4. sift in the flour + baking powder + cinnamon

5. carefully mix with a spatula until all the ingredients are combined

6. divide the rhubarb over the 2 loaftins

7. pour the cake batter over the rhubarb and bake for 50 minutes or until the cake feels firm to the touch

Let the cake cool in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack.

Let them eat cake...

Happy baking!


Look what’s cooking next week


Italian baked haddock, new potatoes and olives, served with green beans


Aromatic chicken with sticky apricots, bulghur wheat and courgettes


Baked lamb meatballs with oregano roast vegetables, soft Parmesan polenta


Butternut squash and spinach curry, wholegrain rice and toasted almonds


Tom som pla salmon

Girly lunch: tom som pla salmon

This is a wonderfully fragrant salmon and ginger soup – quick & easy to make and perfect for lunch.

Tom som pla salmon ingredients

Serves 2
This is what you need: 
2 skinless salmon fillets, cut across the grain into 1cm thin slices
2 bunches of soba noodles, prepared according packet instructions
600ml fresh chicken, or fish, stock (a cube won’t do here)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 shallots, chopped
1/2 tsp shrimp paste
2 fresh coriander roots and stems
handful of coriander leaves
2 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tsp palm sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
4cm fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks
1 tbsp lime juice
2 spring onions, sliced
This is what you do:
1. blitz the black pepper, shallots, shrimp paste and coriander roots + stems to make a paste
2. in a large saucepan, bring the stock to the boil
3. add the paste and simmer
4. add the tamarind, sugar, fish sauce and ginger
5. remove from the heat and add the fish, lime juice and spring onions
6. divide the noodles + soup between 2 bowls, sprinkle with coriander leaves and serve

Tom som pla salmon

 Bon appetit!


Next week’s delicous & easy menu


Lime and mint pollack fillets with cucumber basmati rice, edamame beans and sesame seeds


Baked buttermilk chicken fillets with a herb crust, creamy mustard & honey sauce, green beans and Anya potatoes


Spiced lamb fillets baked with couscous, cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers and black olives


Roast sea trout fillets with herby Puy lentils, baby beetroots and a yoghurt dressing


Veal, spinach and lemon cannelloni, chunky tomato sauce, carrot & parsley salad