Friday, 29 October 2010

Lemon Chilli Linguine


Cards on the table - we really did not enjoy this meal. Be warned that the overriding flavour is very much LEMON. I have no particular issue with lemon but just found it overpowering in this dish, which is also very dry. I guess there are always going to be recipes in every book which just do not float your boat. 

Strangely I notice the Quorn website feedback has been particularly positive for this recipe, maybe there are a lot of quorn loving citrus fanatics out there.

My poor husband didn't even have seconds and that says it all really. In fact he actually said this was the second worst thing I have ever cooked (in first place is an utterly monstrous vegetarian moussaka which could have been used as a weapon of mass destruction, but the less said about that the better). I did not think it deserved to be bracketed with the Moussaka of doom but I really did not like it as a dish.

To be fair, it started badly when I accidentally grated my thumb while zesting the lemon, dinner was slightly less vegetarian from that point on I am afraid. I also learnt the true pain of lemon juice in a fresh wound. The air in my kitchen went a rather electric blue.

So...the plus points for this dish (because I hate to just completely slate it) are that its pretty quick and easy to cook and in terms of weight watchers points its a very low scorer, 1.5 for the quorn, 3 for the pasta, 1 for the oil and that literally is it - a total of 5.5. 

I also think that the process of frying off the quorn pieces in the lemon juice is pretty clever and really does inject a strong flavour into them. As a starting point when cooking with pieces I will no doubt use this method again, but personally I think the dish needs another strong flavour to balance against the strength of the lemon.

This is the finished dish in my wok (which I pretty much cook everything in!):

The idea of lemon and chilli together I do quite like, but the chilli I used was not hot enough to even be detected against the lemon. Once the linguine is in the pan you really have to quickly move it round because due to the lack of sauce it will stick to the pan and burn if left alone. 

Personally I found it very odd to be eating such dry, sauceless, pasta. The idea of cooking the linguine with stock in the pan instead of water is clever, but again the stock flavour was lost to the lemon.

Some of the elements of this recipe have given me inspiration for other dishes and I am sure I will indeed use the citrus idea again but in moderation. I will not, however, be making this particular recipe again.

Sorry Quorn, but this one gets a 1/10 from us.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Teriyaki Quorn


Over the weekend I made Teriyaki Quorn pieces with some steak strips, I was not overawed by it, it has to be said but the steak pieces were quite tasty, there just wasn't enough sauce for my liking.

This is the finished product:

The marinading of the quorn pieces worked pretty well and the ginger and garlic were evident even when it had been cooked, I liked the citrus flavours from the orange and lemon juices too and the flavour was pretty distinct, it just made for quite a dry dish.

The recipe gives an option of 2 tablespoons of soy sauce or teriyaki, I used one of each and in future would probably use 2 of each to try and make it more moist. I am not a big fan of egg noodles either as they can be stodgy and dry and having spent time in Thailand and Vietnam, I prefer glass or rice noodles which are much thinner. I think I will use glass noodles if I make this dish again.

In terms of weight watchers points this is a pretty good dish, 1.5 for the Quorn, 3 for the noodles and 1.5 for the oil and sauce so only 6 for the portion. Because this recipe serves 4 I cooked the whole amounts but then removed half of the steak pieces and veg before adding the noodles for 2 portions, I then reheated the pieces with fresh noodles for a second meal on another night.

So, 5 out of 10 from the other half on this one and I think I agree with that. It is ok and if I tweak it to our tastes it will probably be better, good marinade and flavours but not for us with the egg noodles and lack of sauce.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Leek Pie With Quorn Pieces - Proper Pukka Pie



EXCITED! I got home from work today to find a letter from Quorn giving this blog the thumbs up and saying "it looks fantastic". I am over the moon to get that feedback. Rather brilliantly they have also sent me a load of money off vouchers which will certainly help with completing all the recipes.

Today just keeps on getting better - I have just passed 300 visits to the blog from across the UK, USA, Australia and Canada. I never thought it would get so much support and positive feedback so quickly so thank you everyone that has been in touch and visited the pages. 

Also, today's recipe, Leek Pie with Quorn Pieces marks one tenth of the recipes completed, so a milestone of sorts. So far all have been good to very good. Tonight's pie got a 9/10 from the other half and I have to say I would give it a 10 as it is utterly delicious.

I must admit that whilst the recipe in the book includes home made pastry, I had half a block of puff pastry in the freezer left over from making the steak pie the other week, on a week night I just don't have the time to make the pastry too so I used this ready to use block and it worked marvellously and cut half an hour off the cooking time.

The filling was simple and delicious. I had a slight problem in that the recipe calls for mustard powder. Now maybe Shropshire is just not a massive fan of it but I could not find any, anywhere. I have checked Asda in both Telford and Wolverhampton and Sainsburys in Telford, I also checked the large Co-Op in my hometown of Shifnal. None of them had mustard powder!

I therefore had to ad lib a bit and decided to substitute mustard powder for fresh wholegrain mustard which I had in the fridge. This worked really well, you can see the seeds in this picture of the filling towards the end of cooking:

The use of milk and stock with the flour seemed to work really well at producing a very tasty and wonderfully thickened sauce. By the time it came out of the oven the filling was a great, creamy consistency and for me the mustard worked perfectly with the leeks and quorn pieces. I switched the milk from semi-skimmed to skimmed and the sauce worked fine with this substitution.

Here it is cooked:

and plated:

Weight watchers points are higher for this recipe than any other so far, but then the leeks are sauteed in butter and oil for 2 points and the pastry is also an immediate 5 points. The quorn adds another 1.5 and the milk and stock another 1. This makes it 9.5 points per portion, based on the pie serving 4. 

Although it is high(ish) in points, as long as you serve with zero points veg it can still be part of a healthy meal.

Both me and the other half loved it, the sauce is delicious, the pie is substantial, filling and delicious. I will most definitely be making this again.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes - No Quorn Involved!

Ok, so I know this is not from the Quorn Cookbook but hey - this is my blog and I will always bow to requests because it's really nice to be asked actually.

So, for my friend Kelly who gave birth to beautiful baby Maya last week and asked for this recipe, here it is. I found this after trialling about 4 different recipes for the same cakes, I wanted to make red velvets for a friend's wedding and set about perfecting them and this is the final version, an amalgamation of two recipes actually but it works the best.

I have since made these for birthdays, christenings and one emigration party, they are constantly in demand and always seem to be well received. They look pretty dramatic which I think is what draws people to them, here are some pictures of the wedding ones on the stand and then the ones I made with an Australian flag theme for my friend Claire who is moving to Melbourne in December.

Red velvet with vanilla buttercream and heart shaped sugar sprinkles.

Red velvet with blue coloured and normal vanilla buttercream and silver balls.

The box full of Australia Themed Cupcakes.

Now, I know these cupcakes do not particularly fit with the whole healthy eating thing - but everything in moderation I say. Just eat one instead of 3 and every so often it's really not so bad. Anyway, here is the recipe.

Makes 10 large cupcakes or 12 slightly flatter ones.

60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
1 egg
20g cocoa powder
40ml red food colouring
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
120ml buttermilk
150g plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1½ teaspoons white vinegar

 1) Before you do anything else, put the oven on 170/325 Gas Mark 3 (I have a fan oven and put it on about 150) and line your tin with cupcake cases ready to fill.

2) Make a paste by adding the cocoa and vanilla extract to the red food colouring. I find that using a fork and whisking it together in a jug works best for me, make sure you burst all the little rocks of cocoa that you will get. Put this to one side.

3) Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth, the secret with this recipe is the amount of beating and whisking you do, your arms get a proper workout but for some reason it makes a difference.

4) Slowly add the egg, I beat it first and then tip it in in three goes, beating each time until its completely combined and smooth.

5) Now get your whisk out because you are going to need it, tip the red colouring and cocoa mixture in and whisk for about 2 minutes straight until the whole thing is a very consistent and well mixed colour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and re-whisk if necessary.

6) Put your whisk on the lowest speed possible and slowly pour in half the buttermilk, whisk in for a minute. Then add half the flour and repeat (dont sieve the flour first) repeat with the other half of the buttermilk and flour and whisk again. It should by now be looking like a very smooth and airy mixture.

7) Sprinkle the bicarb of soda across the top of the mixture covering as much area as possible. Now sprinkle the vinegar across the same area and watch it fizz! Grab your trusty whisk and go for it, whisking like a demonised whisking machine until the whole thing is smooth.

8) Now, just when you thought you were done, turn your whisk up as fast as you can bear and whisk for another two minutes.

9) Spoon into the cases so that they are about two thirds full and place in the oven. It sounds utterly mental I know, but my oven cooks them perfectly in exactly 23 minutes although the recipes say 25ish. Experiment with your oven until you know the right time for yours but base it round this.


80g butter (unsalted and room temperature)
250g icing sugar
3 teaspoons of plain/greek yoghurt or milk

The method here is something that has taken years of experimentation and trials and failures to make. I believe there is a god of buttercream and sometimes, if you have pissed them off (how, I do not know) they will make sure your buttercream WILL NOT work.

It will split. It will curdle. It WILL NOT SET. In these cases I find a glass of wine, a deep breath and (in worst case scenarios) a trip to the co-op for Better Crocker are a good solution. But Betty will never taste as good as the real deal. So be calm and try again.

But for me, this set of ingredients and this method does work and generally sets. The first secret is to use proper butter rather than stork as this is thicker and more stable at room temperature.

1) Place the butter in as big a bowl as you have (trust me on this). Tip in ALL of the icing sugar.

2) Take a fork and mash the icing sugar into the butter as much as your arm muscles can bear whilst chanting a prayer to the God of Buttercream (if you like).

3) Once the icing sugar is loosely stuck to the butter, get your whisk back out (no, I am not joking).

4) This is where you will be thankful for a big bowl. Add the yoghurt/milk and then whisk like crazy. Icing sugar will spray up the sides of the bowl but this is why you have done some preparatory mashing, most of it will not. Keep whisking and whisking and after a minute or so, just when you think all is lost, it will come together and go gorgeous and glossy and look like proper buttercream. Which it is. Unless today is not your day as per the God of Buttercream as explained above.

Just a tip, if while whisking it seems to turn to sand, worry not, this is normal and for some reason just seems to happen right before the consistency shifts into a thick creamy texture.

Ta da!

It is at this point you can tint it with colours, if it starts to look too wet and runny add more icing sugar. The dairy element seems to stabilise this version and for me, 9 times out of 10 I get perfect buttercream which will hold its shape when piped onto the top of cupcakes.

Enjoy and please let me know if you have a go at this, it is my favourite and much laboured over recipe.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Chilli Con Quorn


Just made Chilli Con Quorn and I have to say I really enjoyed it - although I did add more chilli than the recipe called for as we have quickly realised that our spice tolerance is considerably higher than the Quorn Cookbook generally accommodates (too much travelling in S.E. Asia eating chilli flakes on everything!).

So, chilli con carne is actually one of my favourite meals and NOBODY makes as good a chilli as my mom, who always cooks it if she knows I am going to be around. This, therefore was quite a test of both quorn and the cookbook as it had a lot to live up to before I had even begun.

Things I tweaked from the recipe were only minor, it called for 1/2 a teaspoon of chilli powder, I added 1 teaspoon of hot chilli flakes (bought back from Thailand - the real deal) and also seasoned it to taste with a bit more cumin than the recipe called for. I also used a yellow instead of a green pepper (purely as that was what I had in the fridge) and chucked in some mushrooms that needed using up too.

This is it as it was simmering towards the end:

I did like the fact that this recipe includes adding cornflour and water as a paste at the end, it thickened the sauce up nicely and also lightened the colour a bit so it looked pretty nice too.

In terms of weight watchers points, this is a really good deal, 1.5 for the quorn, 1 for the oil used to brown the onions and garlic and 2 for the kidney beans. Therefore a portion of this (based on it serving 4) is only 4.5 points. Ideal if you serve it with a 3 point portion of rice for a substantial and tasty meal.

To me this doesn't taste like diet food and I think a meat eater would be hard pushed to know the difference as the quorn mince soaks in the sauce in the same way as beef mince would, the texture is so close that it is not easy to see or taste much difference.

My other half gives this 6/10 (but then he hates kidney beans anyway) and I would give it a 7/10. It is tasty and filling but doesn't hit the spot quite like my mom's does. Then again its probably got less calories so that's the trade off I guess.

One other thing - I always add (raw and unsalted) cashew nuts to the rice when eating chilli as it's something that Mom does and I just totally associate it with the dish nowadays, try it! It also adds some extra and appreciated protein for veggies. 

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Toad in the Hole With Red Onion and Thyme


Oh my goodness - this is PROPER veggie comfort food heaven. I am currently so utterly stuffed I am virtually unable to move. This recipe gets a 10/10 from me because it feels absolutely indulgent, tasty and downright bloody enjoyable!


I do have a *small* admission to make regarding the sausages - I actually used Cauldron Lincolnshire because these are our favourites and personally (much as we love Quorn) I just think they are packed with more flavour and have a meatier texture. This does add more in the way of weight watchers points (Quorn sausages have 1 versus 1.5 per Cauldron counterpart) but I do think it makes a positive adjustment in this recipe which is worth it for the extra calories.

So, this recipe is pretty straightforward but it does take longer than I was expecting, 20 mins in the oven first for the sausages and red onion wedges with some olive oil drizzled over and then another 40 minutes with the batter on. The result though is beautifully soft, caramelised onions in the finished product so it is well worth it.

This is it in the oven during cooking, I was quite impressed with how it rises (despite containing plain flour?!) and turns golden:

I actually did worry that I should have used a bigger roasting tin - the book was vague about the size and just states a 'small shallow' sized one. Actually this size worked fine.

I had used frozen fresh thyme (I always freeze bunches of fresh herbs and find they work perfectly well in most dishes) in the batter and the smell from my oven was amazing while this cooked.

On removing from the oven it looked pretty impressive too:

Like a proper grown up toad in the hole! This is definitely one of those recipes where you have a picture in your head of what it should look like and then, when it comes out looking just like it you feel incredibly proud of it!

Weight watchers points here are based on this serving three (and based on how utterly stuffed I am this is more than enough - even my other half didn't want seconds!). So each portion contains 2 sausages. This means 3 points from sausages, 3 from the flour in the batter, 1 from the eggs, 1 for the oil and half a point for the milk used (I substituted the semi skimmed in the recipe for skimmed and it worked perfectly well). 

All in all that makes 8.5 points for a portion which may seem quite high, however, as I learned tonight, you really do not need to serve it with any other carbs (I did some mashed potato, totally underestimating how filling this is) and therefore if you serve with just some veg the 8.5 points is pretty good for a main meal.

Here it is served up with some gravy, mash and green beans:

You can see that even just serving a third of it with the two sausages, this is a substantial portion.

Double thumbs up from me to the Quorn people for this recipe, a tasty, easy to make and rewarding recipe which produces seriously tasty and satisfying comfort food which doesn't cost too much in terms of calories and fat.

Husband gives this an 8/10 and I would give it 10/10, overall then a 9/10 and personally my favourite recipe so far, I will definitely be making this again and would serve it to friends and family, both veggie and carnivorous. 

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Salsa & Nacho Crusted Fillets


Mmmmm. Very tasty this one! 

Usually we find fillets pretty bland and only use them chopped up in other dishes like jambalaya, but tonight I made the Salsa & Nacho Crusted Fillets and they were actually not just tasty but quite a welcome and interesting change.

This is them during cooking, before the nachos and cheese were added:

The bag of fillets contains 6 and the recipe suggests that this serves 2 or 3, personally I find quorn quite filling so I only had two, I served them with some mashed sweet potato and they went very well with this but would equally work with a salad or wedges to make them part of a more or less substantial meal.

A couple of picky things about the book so far which were particularly noticeable on this recipe relate to the missing bits of information which basically mean you have to guess, assume and just wing it really. 

For instance, on this recipe it does not clarify whether you are cooking these from frozen for this recipe or defrost first (in the back of the book it vaguely suggests that recipes work better from frozen unless there is a marinade - but the salsa here could be considered that). Also, no guidance is given on how best to crush the nachos or to what size, I went by the picture and ad libbed by putting them in a freezer bag and whacking them with a spoon. It also does not state which type of nachos to use, I chose lightly salted as they are my favourite but actually this recipe may benefit from a cheesy flavour.

Weight watchers points per portion (based on a portion being 2 fillets) are incredibly low again, the quorn equates to 1.5, the weighed out portion of cheese and nachos adds 2.5 points so provided you use a fresh salsa with no nasties in it (which is therefore zero points) overall the quorn fillets are 4 points for a portion.

When they came out the oven they smelled amazing and looked pretty good too:

The texture is really interesting and works surprisingly well with the cheese and salsa heated up, like proper nachos like you see on the TV. My other half adored them and actually ate the remaining four that I had cooked. Very tasty and certainly it jazzes up the fillets which soak in some of the salsa flavours.

I will definitely be making these again and will potentially try them with the suggested Monteray Jack cheese (I used mature cheddar today) and cheese flavoured nachos.

9/10 for this one from both of us, which was a surprise as I was not expecting to be that impressed!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Quorn Balls in Tomato Sauce


I have just cooked Quorn Balls in Tomato Sauce for our tea. I was very impressed with the flavour of the sauce, I have to say, but am a bit miffed about portion sizes....

Here is the sauce as it finished cooking:

Now I used a whole pack of the swedish style balls for this and when I counted them there was 18 in the pack, this is meant to serve 4 people....but 18 does not divide neatly into 4 for a start, I guess maybe there is meant to be an average of 20 in a bag and therefore 5 per person which would be about right. 

This sauce is very tasty although my other half thought it was a bit bland (but then he would put chilli flakes in everything given half the chance). It is a great base sauce which would be brilliant for adapting - I chucked in a handful of chestnut mushrooms, sliced up, which needed using and it worked fine.

The sweetness of the tomatoes works well with the chopped up carrots, which are not something I would generally put in this kind of sauce, they also gave it a nice and varied texture. I ad libbed with a bit of balsamic at the end where the recipe just said 'season to taste' and I think that suited the flavours well.

Weight watchers points wise this is an excellent choice, because most of the ingredients are zero points (tomatoes, carrots, herbs) the quorn balls are 1.5 and then you need to account for the small amount of oil and the stock, this makes the sauce an amazingly low 3 points per serving, added to a weighed out portion of pasta it makes for a tasty and very filling meal for around 7 points (more if you sprinkle on some parmesan).

I would definitely make this again as a base sauce but will probably always ad lib with what I have to hand, it is simple and tasty and very low fat so it gets the thumbs up from me.

6/10 from the husband, who thinks it lacks a bit of heat. I would personally give it 7/10. Much better than out of a jar containing god knows what.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Quorn Tikka Masala

I have just made and eaten Quorn Tikka Masala from the Taste of Takeaway section of the cookbook.

Mixed feelings but on the whole pretty positive. It is tasty but for us it could have done with a bit more sauce and a bit more spice. Here is a photo of it once cooked, it did not look too far off the picture in the actual book:

In terms of weight watchers points, it is pretty low which is great. The main points are from the pieces, I made it with low fat greek yoghurt (the recipe did not specify either way) so that bought the points in lower and there is a small amount of oil and stock which also needs counting along with the tikka paste, this means the points total, based on the curry making four portions is 4 points per portion. 

If you then serve with a weighed out portion of rice for 3 points you have a pretty darn good curry for 7 points.

Taste wise, I would have liked it to have a bit more 'oomph' and therefore when I make this again I will use hot chilli powder instead of mild and use more of it. I may also use even more water to thin down and expand the sauce - although I did already add extra water at the end with this version. It is not a particularly saucy curry, so to speak.

This is pretty easy to make and I chose to defrost the Quorn pieces before marinading which I think makes the quorn soak in the sauce much better than from frozen. This saw me defrost a bag of pieces in the microwave for the first time, two bursts of 3 minutes with a shake in the middle and they were indeed defrosted perfectly, as per the guidance in the back of the book.

Husband gave this 7/10 as a dish so not bad at all.

Craving a Curry


Sorry, its been a week of birthday meals and social events which has meant not much cooking at home, but this weekend we have decided we are craving a curry so Quorn Tikka Masala is going to be the next recipe sampled.

On another note, I have been asked by my good friend Kelly (currently in hospital being induced with her first born - good luck Kells!) to share my red velvet cupcake recipe which is one I have been making for friends and family and various occasions for about a year now.

Whilst this is not a quorn thing, I reckon I may well post it on here rather than setting up another blog for baking. Hope nobody minds this! I will upload it over the weekend and also add the results of the Quorn Tikka Masala. Also intending to do the Quorn Balls in Tomato Sauce recipe during the next week or so, ingredients are on the shopping list for tonight (I must be insane to be doing my grocery shopping after work on a Friday but it's just the way it's fallen this week).

Back later with updates, ciao!