Monday, 13 October 2014

Thai inspired courgette, lemongrass and coconut soup

Back in September you may remember I had rather a lot of courgettes, thanks to the generosity of a close friend. Well, basically she waltzed off on holiday and promised em free veg in return for picking her allotment while she was away. Win! This beautiful creamy soup is a fabulous way of cooking courgettes. It's certainly not authentic thai but the fragrant lemongrass and coconut adds a lovely south east Asian taste. I serve it with lightly fried strips of very spicy red peppers but it's fair to say I do like my food to have a nice healthy kick. It's just as nice with a hunk of bread or lightly sautéed strips of fresh courgette to add texture.

I got this recipe originally from my old head chef and it's fair to say he'd be utterly mortified about the addition of coconut milk. But hey, my adaptation, The fact that it is coconut milk means that despite the extreme creamy texture it's also vegan and non-dairy.

  • 500g courgette, roughly chopped
  • 200g runner beans, roughly chopped
  • 3 sticks lemon grass, roughly chopped
  • 400g can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1tblsp ground nut oil
  • salt to taste
  1. In a large deep pan sauté the courgettes, lemongrass and runner beans until softened and just starting to turn golden
  2. Add the whole can of coconut milk to the pan, mix in and then lightly simmer on a low heat for approximately 15-20 mins until the vegetables are completely soft. Leave to cool for 10-15 mins then blitz (in either a jug liquidiser or food processor) until completely smooth
  3. Pass the smooth liquid through a fine sieve to get rid of any fibrous and woody bits of lemon grass then bring to a slow simmer on a low heat. Serve as desired.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Lemon drizzle cake

Is there anything finer than a really rich, moist lemon cake? This is the perfect place to start if you are not a confident baker. A straight forward sponge cake with the heady aroma of lemons that can't fail. The recipe below suggests a loaf tin but it is just as lovely as a square or round cake or as little fairy cakes.

  • 110g/4oz butter
  • 170g/6oz caster sugar
  • 170g, 6oz self raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 80ml milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 110g/4oz icing sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 180C/gas 4 and line a 2lb / 900g loaf tin
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy
  3. Add eggs one by one and beat until completely incorporated and smooth. In between each egg beat in a tablespoon or so of flour. This just prevents the mixture from splitting and you'll get a smoother batter
  4. Slowly fold in the rest of the flour, baking powder and the lemon zest and again, beat until smooth and fluffy looking.  
  5. Carefully stir in the milk and once smooth pour the batter into the lined tin. Bake for 35-40 mins or until the cake skewer is clean
  6. Sift the icing sugar into the pan and stir in the lemon juice over a medium heat until you have a smooth syrup
  7. Once cooked remove the cake from the oven but leave it in it's tin. Pierce the top all over and pour the lemon syrup until it covers the top. Leave the cake in the tin to cool.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Southern Fried Chicken

Got any weekend plans? Well here at Really Hungry we like to relax on a Friday evening. And our favourite way is with chicken. Normally chicken wings, chips, ketchup and a cup of tea but occasionally we go a bundle and treat ourselves to something new.

Now this next recipe is pretty much the finest chicken I've ever made. I think the original recipe came from a book my old head chef used by a gentleman called Kenny McGovern. Mr McGovern suffers/suffered from agoraphobia. I think. Anyway the point is it wasn't my book and I glanced at it once last year but this chap had gone out of his way to recreate all his favourite fast food treats from the comfort of his internet shopping and his own kitchen. I never wrote down the recipe so this is my best recollection. I've had to tweak it a couple of times but, man alive, I've nailed it now. What can I say, sometimes the best things come to those who play things fast and loose.

So here's a quick and dirty blog, of some quick and dirty chicken. Pop yourself some chips in, get a couple of chilled bottles of beer in your fridge and settle down to some Friday night telly. It's the weekend. Enjoy!

  • 200ml full fat milk
  • 1 egg
  • 10 chicken drumsticks
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp fenugreek
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 good quality chicken drumsticks
  • 1l sunflower oil

  1. Whisk the egg and the milk together in a large bowl, In a separate large bowl mix together all the dried ingredients
  2. In a large chip pan or a fat fryer heat the oil until it is hot enough to seal the chicken
  3. Now individually coat the drumsticks completely in the egg mix then drop into the dried flour mix and make sure they are completely coated. Place the floured drumstick on a plate and continue until all of them are finished,
  4. Carefully lower the drumsticks into the hot oil one at a time. My pan is big enough to take four pieces comfortably so you need to judge that they aren't too squashed in. Better to do less then too many. Turn the oil right down now and leave to fry for 15 minutes, gradually turning as they fry. If the crumb starts to get too dark the fat is too hot so tweak the temperature dial accordingly. If you have a temperature probe the chicken is cooked when it is golden brown on the outside and 75C on the inside. If you have no probe just remove the chicken and drain on a rack and gently slice to the bone with a knife to make sure the chicken inside is no longer pink.
  5. These drumsticks will hold in an oven of approximately 120C until the remaining chicken is fried.
  6. Serve with chips, ketchup and ice cold beer. Then have ice cream.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Autumn muffins

We are still on the allotment theme today and I've been looking forward to this one a lot. Autumn fruit is one of my favourite things and this year I've got my floured covered mitts on the sweetest allotment grown raspberries you can imagine along with the most perfectly tender little blackberries I think I've ever seen. There are significantly less of them than there were when I picked them a couple of days ago as I've been gorging on them every time I've opened the fridge, but the ones that remain are being put to good use in these muffins with a couple of bramley apples from my friend Tammy's garden.

These are so simple to make and you can substitute pretty much any fruit as long as you use the same weight quantity. But remember to squeeze the grated apple to get rid of all the excess water. I normally just drink it while I'm baking, but have also been known to use it in smoothies.

  •  200g plain flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 150g demerara sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 75g melted butter
  • 1 dash vanilla extract
  • 150g grated apple
  • 80g raspberries
  • 80g blackberries
  • 150ml milk
  • pinch of salt
  1. Preheat your oven to 180C and line a muffin tray with 12 muffin cups
  2. Sift all the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the sugar and mix
  3. Beat the egg, milk and vanilla extract together and fold into the dry mix with the melted butter until you have a smooth, airy cake batter
  4. Carefully fold in the fruit making sure it is well incorporated but not too squashed or broken up
  5. Divide the batter evenly over the 12 muffin cups and bake on 180C for 30-35mins. or until cooked through and lightly golden on top
  6. Cool on a rack

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Courgette fritters

As a result of overwhelming popular request (1 person asked on Twitter) here's a short photo blog about courgette fritters. Everyone has their own favourite method, this is mine.

Guess who just had courgette fritters for lunch!

1. Slice courgette into strips or discs of even width, season with salt and leave for 5-10 mins

2. Dab away release moisture with a paper towel and season with a sprinkling of cracked black pepper

3. Coat courgette discs in plain flour, then dip in egg, then back into the flour

4. Shallow fry the discs in hot groundnut oil until golden brown. If the discs brown or burn too quickly
just adjust the temperature to allow a slower cook, so the inside of the courgette has time to get tender.

5. Serve sprinkled with salt.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Torta verde

As a result of my recent fortuitous harvest I've been planning meals around courgettes and runner beans. There's a limit to the number of courgette fritters one can consume, although my husband politely asks me to point out that he has not yet found that limit. But this lovely little recipe provides an alternative option that can be served in any number of ways: as either a main course, with a salad; a snack; as a picnic dish or even as delicate little individual tartlettes as a starter.

As I've been picking my friend's allotment for her while she's away I happen to have courgette and beans handy, but this works remarkably well with pretty much any green veg including chard, spinach, brocolli and fennel. 

This is based on a tradtional Ligurian savoury tart, reminiscent of spanakopita. Unlike their Greek cousins the Ligurian version uses an olive pastry in lieu of filo.  This marvelous dough must be about the simplest pastry in the world to make and handle. Try it with whatever you have in your veg garden/salad box/fridge.

Olive pastry
  • 400g/4oz strong flour
  • pinch salt
  • 6tblsp olive oil
  1. Combine everything in a bowl and gradually add a splash of water until all the flour is combined into smooth, firm dough, Cling wrap and place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

 For the filling
  • 350g courgette, sliced evenly
  • 150g runner beans, chopped
  • 1 bulb fennel, chopped
  • 50g frozen peas
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • medium bunch basil, chopped
  • 60g arborio rice
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 80g feta cheese, grated
  • 80g parmesan, grated
  1. In a large pan sauté the courgette, fennel, beans, peas, garlic and basil in a splash of olive oil until soft, then roughly blitz in a food processor. Season to taste.
  2. Cut your olive dough in two and thinly roll out half to line a pre-oiled tart tin (ideally one with a removable base). Leave a collar of at least 1cm of pastry round the edge of the tin. Now roll the second half of the pastry out thinly and leave to be used as the lid.
  3. Into your veg mix add your beaten egg, the cheese, the rice and any salt and pepper required to taste. Remember that your cheese is salty, so add this and taste before adding any further seasoning.
  4. Now place the second piece of rolled out pastry over the pie and trim the edges to leave only 1cm of collar round the edge,  Roll this collar in (as on the picture below) and then use your thumb and forefinger to make a crimped edge.
  5. Brush olive oil onto the top of the pie and make 3 small cuts in the top to release the steam and prevent the lid from getting soggy.
  6. Bake on 180C for between 40-50 minutes, until golden brown. To check if it is ready insert a knife into one of the holes to test the rice isn't still too hard.

Thursday, 11 September 2014


Sadly I didn't grow this haul here at Really Hungry.  The apples were a gift from my good friend and excellent chef, Tammy. She has a blackberries in her garden that can barely take the weight of the fruit. The plan is to make either muffins or create some kind of apple and blackberry slice with them. The beans, courgettes and tomatoes are from my running friend's allotment. I'm tending it (aka nicking her food) while she relaxes in sunnier climes. Her neighbour on the allotment foisted the largest potatoes you've ever seen onto me. And she also gave me a bag of pink fir potatoes which I'm about to steam for dinner. Gotta love Autumn!

Bring on the apocalypse!

Runner beans

Courgette and tomato

Pudding or breakfast?

Pink fir potatoes


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Flanagan's Flapjacks

Once again I've been asked to put together some recipes for the athletes getting ready to run the Surrey Half Marathon on the 8th March 2015.  If you ran the inaugural race in 2014 you'll know it was a huge success and lots of fun for everyone involved. This time round we've decided to do treats. Everyone is going to be working so hard in training that it will be nice to have something sweet and decadent to spoil yourselves with after an arduous work out. 

It's fitting that the first recipe is something of a legend here on the Guildford running scene. My local run club regularly meets on a Wednesday night for a weekly session of hills, tempo, intervals, fun and cake. I'm sure we are not unique: There must be cake clubs all over the country who meet up for an hour of pain and wheezing before cracking open the treats and napkins. It's always been fun trying out everyone's different favourites and a good friend often brings these flapjacks with him. 

Honestly, HAND TO HEART, they are the finest flapjacks you will ever taste. To be fair, everything he makes is absolutely delicious (he's got something of a baking talent there) but these won me over the first time I tasted them after a particularly grueling hill session and have had my heart every since.  Add whatever you want to them. Dried cranberries or blueberries work well, chocolate chips, peanuts. Anything goes. But don't leave out the marshmallows...they go all gooey and light and sweet and seriously...don't leave out the marshmallows!

I really hope you like them as much as me. Thank you Andrew Flanagan:

  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 250g butter 
  • 200g sugar 
  • 125g oats
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 125g crushed cornflakes
  • 50g dried cherries
  • 100ml orange juice
  • 2 tbsp mini marshmallows

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C (gas mark 5) and line an 18 x 25cm swiss roll tin (or any square-ish receptacle)
  2. Melt the butter and syrup in a pan over a low heat until melted
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and pour in the butter/syrup mix
  4. Drain the cranberries (discard the orange juice) and add to the mix, stir until they are evenly incorporated
  5. Now take the mix and spread into the swiss roll tin 
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes
  7. Cool slightly on a rack and cut into fingers when still warm, but leave in tin. Once completely cold they can be broken into their squares and stored in an airtight container.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Blueberry pancakes

I don't know about you but I run out of ideas for healthy meals fairly quickly when I'm training. Even though my job suggests that I would have a plethora of exciting ideas at my finger tips my mind still goes utterly blank when I'm a) tired and hungry and b) have eaten more wholewheat pasta than is reasonable in a 16 week training schedule.

So for my carb loading I like to try something a little different. The night before the Surrey Half Marathon I'll still be having my bowl of wholewheat spaghetti with a simple arabiatta sauce, but the morning of the day before I'll be preparing some of these little beauties for breakfast. They add diversity and fun to your race nutrition preparation and are fun to share with friends and family.

Maybe not all of them in one go though, eh?

I know you hear the word pancake and a series of alarms goes off in your athlete's brain but these are seriously wholesome. Light and airy because of the baking powder, filled with delicious blueberry and banana vitamins and of course they are ridiculously moreish. Treat yourself to a breakfast of these the day before the 9th March 2013 and your carb-loading won't seem quite so functional. You can also make them with buckwheat flour if you prefer. It's up to you how big you make these but I tend to do 10cm-ish discs, slightly thick like american ones.

Blueberry pancakes
  • 200g  whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 250ml skimmed milk
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 tblsp sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 small pack blueberries
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1tsp ground nut or sunflower oil
  1. In a large bowl mix the egg, milk, sugar, banana, vanilla and salt and mix thorougly. You can do this with a stick blender, a whisk or you can blitz it all up in a liquidiser if you prefer.
  2. Once fully combine whisk in the sifted flour and baking powder and again whisk/blitz or blend until you have a smooth mix. Don't worry too much if you are using a whisk and the banana is still a littly lumpy. It adds a nice texture.
  3. Now chuck the blueberries in to the batter and stir in.
  4. Heat a heavy skillet or frying pan with a dash of oil. When hot add your pancake mix in the desired quantities. It's a thick mix so I tend to go for roughly 12cm in diameter .
  5. When the pancakes are cooked through turn them with a fish knife (or flip'em if you fancy it) and brown the other side.
  6. Serve in a humungous stack, drizzled with maple syrup, with a huge pot of fresh coffee.

Note...if your pan is too hot the bottom will burn before it's cooked through. It's a truth universally accepted that the first pancake is never perfect so see how it goes and adjust the heat accordingly. It's breakfast, not an exam...don't worry if they catch a little ;-)

Now go out there and run hard! See you on the start line of the Surrey Half Marathon on the 9th March!

Thursday, 9 January 2014


As a follow on from the last bread post I wanted to share more recipes with you. I absolutely love making my weekly batch of bread on my day off. It's relaxing and therapeutic to make and at the end of the effort you get to reward yourself with a wedge of warm bread and salty butter.

With a handful of exceptions bread is simply made by mixing flour, yeast and water with a sprinkling of salt. To this base dough mix you can experiment by adding pretty much anything you want. Here are a few of my favourites. Use a bowl mixer, use your hands or use a bread maker. It doesn't matter. Bread making is a very simple pleasure, just have fun. I get all my seeds and nuts from the local health food shop but supermarkets have a fantastic range as well so feel free to experiment.

Basic white bread dough

  • 12g fresh yeast
  • 500g strong flour
  • hefty pinch salt
  • 340ml water 
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a bowl mixer and knead for 5 mins. Alternatively use finger tips to rub yeast into flour in a large bowl. The same method as making crumble. then add the salt and mix evenly before adding the water and mixing in the bowl with your hand. Once dough has come together transfer to the work surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes.
  3. Then leave the dough to rest for prove for 30 minutes, it should double in size as the yeast activates.
  4. Take the rested dough out of bowl and place on work surface.  Gently flatten it and fold the edges of the dough back into the centre.  Turn and repeat the process a few times to knock it back, then shape it into a loaf or rolls and rest for 30 minutes on a lined tray before baking in your hot oven until the crust is golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when you tap it (approximately 25 minutes).

Light Wholemeal Loaf

The mix of wholemeal and white flour here gives a lighter dough. I find this loaf especially delicious with soup.

  • 300g strong wholemeal flour
  • 200g strong white flour
  • 12g yeast
  • 1tbsp honey
  • 400ml water
  • hefty pinch of salt
  • 50g of mixed seeds and nuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C and follow the method above.

Spelt Loaf

This is similar to the loaf on the previous blog but uses 100% spelt flour, with a mix of half wholegrain and half white. This gives a slightly lighter, spongier bread than the previous one and to add texture I use whole spelt seeds.

  • 300g wholegrain spelt flour
  • 200g white spelt flour
  • 10g yeast
  • 400ml warm water
  • 1tpsp ground nut oil
  • 1tbsp honey
  • hefty pinch of salt
  • 50g spelt seeds

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C and follow the method above.