Jess Cantoni

Recipes, reviews & lifestyle

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Weekly Meal Plan Feb 26th


I've been a bit nicer to myself this week. Last week I really struggled with cooking all the dishes, due to feeling knackered and also ill towards the end of the week (stupid Storm Doris and the British rail system!!) This week I've gone for comfort over health. I don't care if my body doesn't thank me for it - I know future me will certainly thank me instead. 

Most of my choices have been chosen with the idea that the leftovers will be used for our work lunches. 

Monday

Tesco Pizza - Don't judge - A few weeks ago we tried one of Tesco's homemade pizzas from their deli (a bit like the ones Asda does), and they're were really nice! I decided we'd have one this week, and as it goes off tomorrow (Monday), I guess we have to have it then! Making evenings a bit easier for myself...


Tuesday

Aubergine Daal - The same meal we were meant to have last Thursday, but because of Storm Doris, I didn't arrive home until 9pm! I also had a headache and didn't feel hungry. The aubergine is still fine, so we'll have it on Tuesday. No waste! I'll also use this meal for our lunches on Wed.

Wednesday

Meatball Marinara - Another meal from Miguel Barclay's One Pound Meals. This recipe is more New York than Italy, but it looks so good; very comforting! It's basically spaghetti and meatballs drenched in a tomato sauce with lots and lots of melted cheese.. yum. I'll use this meal for our lunches on Thursday too.

Thursday

Cabbage and Bacon Pasta - Another One Pound Meal recipe. I love the simplicity of this recipe. I also really like the combination of bacon and cabbage. It reminds me of brussel sprouts and bacon at Christmas. A nice and easy recipe to round off the week. I'll also have this for lunch on Friday.

Friday

On Fridays, we tend to play it by ear. Sometimes I plan something but don't end up making it (naughty, I know!) So again, I've decided to see what happens! Last Friday we ended up having KFC because I was staarrving due to not eating all day from a migraine. KFC was actually the perfect medicine, i'm sorry to say! 

What have you got planned for your meals this week? 


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Saturday, 25 February 2017

Passion Fruit Filled Sponge Cake


I love a good sponge cake like the next person, but this sponge cake is a bit different to the normal Victoria Sponge version. You don't feel heavy after eating a slice, and you kind of feel like you're eating something healthy (1 of your 5 fruit a day!) as it's filled with seasonal passion fruit, paired wonderfully with refreshing and silky mascarpone and fromage frais. Honestly, this could be eaten for breakfast. 

My husband particularly like this cake, and he's not normally a cake fan! So that's saying something!


Tin size needed: two 8 inch (20cm) x 1.5 inch (4cm) deep sponge tins

Ingredients
For the sponge cake

175g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
175g soft butter
175g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
Icing sugar for sifting

For the filling
6 passion fruit
250g mascarpone
200ml fromage frais
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 170c/gas mark 3/fan 160c. Line the two sponge tin bases with greaseproof paper.

2. To make the sponge: sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, and add the eggs, butter, golden caster sugar and vanilla extract. Mix with a mixer or electric whisk until light and airy and can drop off a spoon easily. 

3. Divide mix between two tins (I weigh mine just to be sure) and bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes, or until well-risen and will bounce back when pressed with a finger. My oven is really hot and it only took 20 minutes (although I don't think this is normal!)Leave to cool on a wire rack once baked.


4. Whilst baking, prepare the filling: Slice the passion fruits and scoop out the middle into a bowl.

5. In another bowl combine the mascarpone, fromage frais, sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk using a balloon whisk until nice a fluffy. Fold in over half of the passion fruit seeds. 


6. Once the sponge has cooled down, spread half of the mixture on one half of the sponge and top with the rest of the passion fruit seeds. Spread the remaining mixture on top and sandwich the other sponge on top.



7. Dust with icing sugar and serve! 


 Have you used passion fruit in a cake before? Let me know down in the comments! 



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Sunday, 19 February 2017

Buttermilk Pancakes


It's nearly pancakes day! Wooooo! Yeaaah! I do love me a pancake or five, and since I haven't done a pancake recipe yet for this blog (I know!!!), i'm long overdue to do one for you guys!

I've chosen a recipe which is a bit unusual to the normal crepe-style pancake and even the popular American style. This pancake is sorta in-between the two. The texture is a bit crepe-like, but the size of them represent the American-style.. can't really work it out myself, but they're bloody yummy! 

Ingredients

Makes 6

150g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
120ml buttermilk
75ml cold water
3 large freerange eggs, beaten
Pinch of salt
Butter for frying

Maple syrup
Creme Fraiche

Method

1. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre.

2. Whisk the buttermilk with the water and gradually whisk in with the flour mix. 

3. Add the eggs gradually, until you have a smooth batter.



4. Fry some butter in a pan and pour in about 3 spoonfuls (a small glug) worth of mix. Wait for a minute and then flip over and brown on that side for about a minute more. They should puff up slightly.


5. Continue this until you have used up all your mix, adding butter to the pan for each pancake. Serve with lashings of maple syrup and a dollop of creme fraiche.


Happy Shrove Tuesday everyone!



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Weekly Meal Plan Feb 20th



Today is one of those Sundays where it has started out where I'm thinking i've got nothing to do, and now it has amounted to a list as long as my arm! I don't know why I do it to myself, but some how I create so many things that need doing... I need to learn to chill! Anywho, one thing which I ticked off my list on Friday was my meal plan for next week. This week, all of my recipes come from (a book I keep preaching about on all social media without realising!) the One Pound Meals book by Miguel Barclay. I cannot rave anymore about how wonderful this book is, and I won't, as you've probably heard enough! 

All of my choices have been chosen with the idea that the leftovers will be used for our work lunches. 

Monday

Chicken Lentil Korma - I had some red lentils in the larder, so I thought I'd better use them up!

Tuesday

Huevos con Chorizo - this looks like a delicious Spanish dish. The only thing is that I won't take a fried egg to work as I don't like thought of re-heating it..ew. I'll just take the potatoes, peppers and chorizo.

Wednesday

Chicken Tartiflette - Things will be turning a bit French in my kitchen on Wednesday. This is basically like an Irish stew, with potatoes layered on top, overlapping. If it's anything like my Irish stew in my last meal plan, I'll be wishing I have leftovers a million times over! 

Thursday

Aubergine Daal - A veggie meal for us both, which also uses red lentils, which is great because I already had some! We need to eat less meat in our household, so i'm happy I chose this one. 

Friday

On Fridays, we tend to play it by ear. Sometimes I plan something but don't end up making it (naughty, I know!) So this time I've decided to not bother and just see what happens. We may end up just getting a takeaway!

What have you got planned for your meals this week? Do you plan your meals for your lunches too?



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Monday, 13 February 2017

Marshmallow and Nutella Trifle for Two


In the mood for something super sweet, chocolatey and just the right size that you can share it with your valentine tomorrow? If so, then this epic dessert is your answer. It literally doesn't take that long to make and is super easy because all the ingredients are either pre-prepared or only take 5 minutes to whip up. Just beware because when I say it's sweet, I mean it's sweeeeeeeet (like A LOT - but it's also very nice, or else I wouldn't be promoting it to you guys to make!)

It has 6 layers of heaven.. read on to find out...


Perfect for two

Note - the mousse requires one hour ahead preparation.

Ingredients: 

Mini chocolate doughnuts
160ml of whipping cream
160g Nutella
5 big spoons of Marshmallow fluff
Askeys milk chocolate sauce
150ml double cream
3 custard cream biscuits

- You will also need a small pyrex dish or glass bowl like mine below




Method

1. Layer as many doughnuts as you can fit at the bottom of your bowl (only one layer though).

2. Begin making the chocolate mousse: measure out your nutella and put it in the microwave for 10 seconds to loosen up. Meanwhile, whip up your whipping cream until soft peaks form. 

3. Once whipped, add a quarter of your cream to your nutella and slowly incorporate. Add the rest of your cream and fold to form a soft mousse. Pour all of your mousse over your doughnuts and level with a spoon.

4. Layer one more layer of doughnuts over the mousse. Cool in the fridge for an hour or until the mousse has set.

5. Once set, spoon your marshmallow fluff into a bowl and put in the microwave for 20 seconds. Once slightly melted and soft, pour evenly over the mousse. Place in the fridge and move on to the next step.


6. Begin to whip up your double cream to form soft peaks. Once whipped, remove the bowl from the fridge and squirt a thick layer of milk chocolate sauce over the marshmallow. 

7. Using a star nozzle, pipe the double cream to form a circle, copying the pattern below. Put the 3 custard cream biscuits in the piped cream for decoration. Serve and indulge with a loved one.. or by yourself (that's perfectly fine too!)





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Friday, 10 February 2017

Learning with Larousse: Lemony pickled vegetables



A bitter and spicy pickle, perfect served with a biriyani or something sweet to offset the bitterness, or some cheese. This recipe is essentially a vegetable achar with lemon. 
If you've not been following my Learning with Larousse posts, then i'll just explain. Basically I'm trying to cook my way through the mega food bible that is Larousse Gastronomique. As I go through, I'm documenting my recipes of which some turn out well and some not quite as I expected.. (ahem, this pickle and this quince recipe). I'm often not quite sure what I'm doing/cooking when I try them, so they're often trial and error! Such as this pickle recipe; I've never pickled anything without making it into a chutney and cooking it, so pickling with oil was a first!

Like I said, the taste is peppery with a bitter aftertaste. The vegetables still have some bite, which I was surprised about because I thought they would have gone limp from all the salting I did. 

Also, Larousse didn't include any quantities for this recipe, so I sorta made it up... here's what I did:

Ingredients

4 lemons, cut into quarters
2 carrots
2 sweet bell peppers
1 cucumber
1 small bag of thin green beans
a handful of cabbage leaves
1/4 of a cauliflower
Coarse salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp white vinegar
500ml olive oil

Method

Note - this recipe takes more than a day to complete. You will also need to sterilise a jar - see the how to link in the method.
1. Prepare the veg: cut the lemons into quarters, and carrots,  peppers and cucumber into strips 4cm long. Dice the beans and tear the cabbage into small strips. Chop the cauliflower florets into small florets. 


2. Steeping: place the lemons in a bowl and pour over enough salt to cover them. Steep for 12 hours. Do the same for the vegetables.


3. After 12 hours, wash the lemons and soak in cold water for 24 hours, changing the water every so often. 


4. After 24 hours are up, boil the lemon quarters in water until they become soft. Drain and dry. 

5. Now the vegetables would have been steeping for 36 hours: drain and dry them too. 

6. Put the lemons quarters into the bottom of a sterilised jar (see how to here when I made mincemeat) and pour the vegetables on top. Pour the oil in a jug and add the cayenne pepper and vinegar. Stir. Pour over the vegetables in the jar. Seal and store in a cool place.




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Saturday, 4 February 2017

Quick and Easy Weekly Meal Plan (under £65 from Tesco)


 As a couple, Fabio and I have made the decision to try and see how reasonably priced we can make our shop - let's call it our challenge to ourselves. I'm all for reasonably priced items, but sometimes I can get carried away with speciality ingredients. I used to stereotype that cheap meals were processed and I wouldn't be able to experiment, however it's quite the opposite. Whilst doing this challenge, I have experimented and cooked more home-cooked meals than in previous weeks. This is not only due to the fact that the dinners are also lunches too, I've just had more of a drive to cook. 

The following meals were bought at Tesco and all the deals were available at the time of purchase. 

Sub-total: £62.77
Reduced items due to expiry: 4
Brand guarantee* savings: £1.12

Total to pay: £61.65

* This means that if the branded items could have been bought cheaper elsewhere, Tesco will take off the difference.


My Weekly Meal Plan for Two
Please note: I also already had some ingredients at home, so this cut costs. However I did buy extra snacks and other non-food items which could be seen to make up for the price of these items. I will include the price in brackets of the items I bought in this shop.

Sunday dinner (becomes lunch for Monday) 



I only managed to get photos of the Irish Stew!! 

 Irish Stew
Ingredients:
700g lamb chops (1 pack: £1.50 reduced, £5.00 for second pack)
2 onions
450g potatoes
1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley (£0.70)
1 tbsp dried thyme
300ml lamb stock (£1.49 for Knorr stock cubes)


Method:
1. Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees (150 fan), gas mark 3. 

2. Layer in a deep casserole dish, the meat, onions and potatoes, ensuring that you sprinkle each layer with some herbs and seasoning. Finish with a layer of potatoes, lapping over the potato slices to form a sort of, lid. 
3. Pour the stock over the potatoes and then cover with a circle of greaseproof paper. Put on the lid and cook in the oven for 2 hours.
4. Take off the lid and serve immediately. 


Rough total meal cost: £2.17 per meal (covered 4 meals)

Day 1 - Monday
Breakfast: Caffe latte (Lavazza coffee £5.70) and granola, 2 strawberries (£1.49), granola and Yeo Valley Strawberry Yoghurt (£1.75)

Lunch: leftover Irish Stew from Sunday evening's dinner 

Dinner: Oriental Steamed Rainbow Trout with Chinese Fried Rice
Ingredients:
Rainbow Trout fillets from the fish counter x 2 (£4.00)
3cm piece root ginger, peeled
1 tsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 spring onions 
1 tsp groundnut oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Few cabbage leaves to line the steamer
Salt and ground black pepper

For the rice:
5 cups of basmati rice (or however much you think you would eat)
A handful of frozen peas
1 tbsp soy sauce
1cm piece chopped ginger
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 spring onion, chopped

Method:
Rice - cook the rice first, or at least start cooking it now. We used a rice cooker to quicken the process.
1. Slice the ginger thinly and chop the garlic small. Slice the spring onions too. 
2. Over a medium heat, toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan and when golden brown, place in a bowl.
3. Add the oils to the same pan and gently fry the garlic and ginger until pale, not brown. Add to the bowl with the seeds, along with the oil.
4. To the same bowl, add the lemon juice, soy sauce and spring onions - mix together. 
5. Place the fish on a board and season. Spread some of the mixture over the fish and then roll into a roll. Place them in a steamer basket that has been lined with cabbage leaves and top with the rest of the mixture. Steam over boiling water for 8 minutes. 
6. Begin frying the rice now - add a tiny bit of sesame oil to the pan and when hot, tip in your garlic, ginger and frozen peas and fry until the peas have defrosted. Next, add the rice and stir. After a few minutes, pour in some soy sauce. Fry for about 5 minutes. 
7. Serve your fish on top of your rice and enjoy!

Rough total meal cost: £2.00 per person (only because I had many of the ingredients) The rice covered 4 meals.


Day 2 - Tuesday
Breakfast: Chocolate bake breakfast bar (had no tupperware left for my normal breakfast!)

Lunch: Leftover Chinese Fried Rice 

Dinner: Mulligatawny Soup
Ingredients:
3 rashers of streaky bacon (£1.13 reduced)
550g chicken legs and thighs (£5.00 - Organic)
1 carrot, sliced (0.26p for 3)
1 celery stick, chopped (0.49p for a bundle)
1 apple, cored
2 tsp curry powder
Freshly ground black pepper
1 clove
1 tbsp plain flour (0.40p Tesco own brand, smallest bag)
150ml milk

Method:
1. Fry the chopped bacon in a large, wide pan, but not until brown. 
2. Add the chicken and brown well. When done, drain on a paper towel.
3. Return the bacon and chicken to the pan and add the stock and carrot, celery, apple, curry powder, pepper and clove. Cover and cook for 30 mins. 
4. Remove the chicken and shred. Return to the soup and reheat gently. Remove the clove. 
5. Mix the flour with a little cold water and add to the soup. Mix in. Cook for 5 minutes more, but avoid boiling it.
6. Ladle into bowls and enjoy!

Rough total meal cost: £1.75 per meal (covers 4 meals) Although we struggled to make the soup cover 4 meals, this may be because we are big eaters. It is possible you could make it cover lunch too. 

Day 3 - Wednesday
Breakfast: Caffe latte (Lavazza coffee £5.70) and granola, 2 strawberries (£1.49), granola and Yeo Valley Natural Yoghurt

Lunch: I ended up buying lunch as we ate all the soup from last night...naughty!

Dinner: Thai Vegetable Curry
Ingredients:
2-3tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste (£1.69 Tesco own brand)
2.5cm fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped
50g cashew nuts
400ml can coconut milk (0.70p)
3 carrots, cut into batons (0.26p)
1 broccoli head, cut into florets (0.45p)
Zest and juice of one lime
2 large handfuls of spinach leaves (£1.00)
Basmati Rice

Method:
- Cook some basmati rice before starting. We used a rice cooker.
1. Place the curry paste into a large pan. Add the ginger to the pan with the cashew nuts. Stir and cook for 3 minutes.
2. Add the coconut milk and cover. Bring to the boil. 
3. Add the carrots and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Add the broccoli and simmer for a further 5 minutes, or until tender.
5. Add the lime juice and zest with the spinach. Serve with basmati rice.

Rough total meal cost: £1.02 per meal. This meal covers 4 meals.

Day 4 - Thursday 

Breakfast: Caffe latte (Lavazza coffee £5.70) and granola, 2 strawberries (£1.49), granola and Yeo Valley Strawberry Yoghurt

Lunch: Leftovers from the Thai Vegetable Curry last night

Dinner: Leek and Boursin stuffed Jacket Potatoes
Ingredients:
2 large jacket potatoes (£1.00 for 2)
1 leek (0.29p)
Some mature cheddar (0.77p reduced Pilgrims Choice)
80g Ail and Fines Herbes Boursin (£1.00)
1 tbsp single cream (0.55p)
seasoning

Rough total meal cost: £3.61 for 2 people

Method:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Begin by baking the potatoes - prick them both with a fork and start them off in the microwave to quicken the process - 10 mins.
2. When done, place in a baking tray and cover with salt and pepper. Massage in some oil all over the skin. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, wash the leek to get out any trapped dirt, and then slice lengthways. Slice again into a four, lengthways, and then finely chop. 
4. Place the boursin into a bowl. 
5. When the potatoes are done, carefully slice them in halfway and scoop out the centre with a spoon. Place in the bowl with the boursin. Pour in the cream and season well. Mash or mix with a spoon.
6. Fill each of the skins with the potato mixture. Grate on some cheddar and sprinkle on the leeks. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. 

Extra items I bought:

Cat food - £4.80 (gourmet perle as our cat is fussy!)
Tesco lavender non bio washing tablets (£3.25 for 20 washes)
Actimel drink (Fabio takes these to work) - £2.75
Custard creams - 0.45p (I craved these!)
Newspaper - £2.00
Deodorant - £1.80
Graze lemon flapjacks - £1.50 for 3 packets (these are brilliant for a snack at work
Ryvita cracked black pepper crackers - £1.00 (perfect for those hunger pangs at work)
Oranges - £2.00 for 2 nets
Mucus cough tablets - £3.00
Jam doughnuts - 0.33p reduced - (couldn't resist!)

Please let me know if you want me to do one of these plans again, and if it was useful! It takes a bit of time, but I can do it again if people want me too!
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