La Différence

La Différence
A passion for food

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Seafood Cous Cous 'Paella' with chilli & lime

My weight has rocketed over the winter too many cosy nights in by the woodburner eating rich warming food and drinking too many glasses of my favourite tipple, nicely chilled Sauvignon Blanc.
Something just had to give, the warm spell before Easter caught me out. There was absolutely no way I was going sleeveless and showing off my fine pair of 'bingo-wings' to anyone. So it's back to the only diet that works for me Weight Watchers and this time I'm doing it online.
I lost over around 30lbs 4 or 5 years back, just by eating lovely healthy food and increasing my daily activities, mainly dog-walking combined with my Rosemary Conley exercise DVD two or three times a week. Of course starting my blog hasn't helped, cooking all these lovely dishes wasn't enough, I also ate the damn things.
Well it's only week one and I'm not all bored with the diet, I'm enjoying carefully working out the points in each dish that I have devised. I will try to add a points value to my recipes from now on just to give all of you who are watching their weight an idea of how much you are consuming.

So here we go with WW recipe no 1 Seafood Cous Cous Paella with chilli & lime. It's a really quick and easy meal that can be prepared in no time and will cook in around 10 minutes maximum. If you don't like cous cous then you can substitute it with pasta ( just make sure to check on the points first though). If your not on a diet then you'll still enjoy this dish guilt -free.

This is for 4 portions if you're Weight Watching and perhaps two large portions if your not. You can enjoy this either hot or cold. If you'd like it cold then add the Seafood to the rest of the cooked ingredients once they have cooled. Great for taking to work in a tupperware box for lunch.

8 to 12oz cooked seafood. The mixture I bought had prawns (shrimp), squid and mussels
150gms Giant Cous Cous cooked as per instructions on the packet & add 1tsp Ras-el-Hanout (optional)
2 shallots finely diced
2 red chillies (larger mild ones) sliced
1 medium sized yellow or orange pepper diced
16 cherry tomatoes cut in half.
2 tsp good oil. I use rapeseed but Extra Virgin Olive Oil is fine
Juice of 1 lime
lime & coriander (cilantro) or flat leaf parsley leaves to decorate
Salt & pepper to taste

Just sautee the shallots, chillies & peppers in the oil until beginning to soften.
Add the cherry tomatoes, warm through but do not cook
Add the cous cous & Seafood (if you want it hot if not add after all the other ingredients are cold & refridgerate)
Stir through & heat gently until piping hot.
Add the lime juice at the last minute & check the seasoning.
Sprinkle over some coriander or parsley leaves and serve.

Approx 5-6 points per serving.

Hope you enjoy it !


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Spaghetti Primavera

Such a lovely dish to serve as the wonderful Spring vegetables become available. Use whatever you like but make sure it's colourful & fresh. Here I have included Ruby Chard, asparagus, mange tout
, shallots & chilli, with lots of freshly chopped basil to finish.

To serve 2 good portions

275g Spaghetti cooked al-dente according to the instructions on the packet

for the sauce
1 large shallot finely diced
a 50g tin of anchovies in oil (leave them out for any vegetarians)
1 red chilli chopped ( optional)
1 large tomato chopped
the juice of 1 small lemon
1 tbsp good quality virgin olive oil

for the vegetables

I used the veg below, but just choose what you like

12 asparagus spears, woody ends removed then sliced in half lengthwise
4 large handfuls of Ruby Chard with it's stems chopped (spinach will do if you can't get it)
around 12 mange tout (snow peas) sliced in half lengthwise
Basil leaves chopped for garnish (around 1Tbsp)
A little glug of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to serve
Curls of Parmesan Cheese ( I used a potato peeler and ran it down the edge of the cheese)


In a large frying pan gently fry the shallots & chilli in the oil until soft
Add the anchovies and break them up while cooking
Throw in the tomatoes
Squeeze in the juice of the lemon.
Season to taste ( you shouldn't need any salt if using the anchovies)

While this is cooking steam the vegetables for just around 3/4 minutes, so that they are cooked but still have a little crunch.

To assemble just add the veg to the sauce in the frying pan and stir through well
Add the spaghetti with a little of the pasta water
Mix the whole lot together well, add a little more Extra Virgin Olive oil and the chopped basil.

This was my lunch today and it was just delicious and so very simple to prepare .

Serve in warmed bowls adding the Parmesan curls to the top to garnish.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Italian Rice Creams With Gooseberry And Elderflower Puree

Italian Rice Creams with Elderflower & Gooseberry Sauce

Not long now until The Elderflower season yay!!!!!

This recipe is to die for... so deliciously rich & creamy with the added fragrance from the Elderflowers and the tartness of the gooseberry sauce.  A perfect dinner party dish to impress your guests ♥    

The photos ares mine the recipe is deliciously Delia Smith's. You will find it below.  


You will also need 6  3" buttered Ramekins


First pour the milk into a saucepan and add the sugar, nutmeg and lemon zest. Stir and bring everything up to simmering point, then add the rice, giving it several good stirs.
Then turn the heat down to its very lowest setting, put a lid on and leave it for about 40-50 minutes, giving it a stir every now and again. If you heat is not low enough you may need to use a heat diffuser.
What you need to end up with is a mixture where most of the liquid has been absorbed.
About 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, measure the cream into a jug and whisk the gelatine into it to soak.
Then, when the rice is ready, pour the cream and gelatine mixture into it, followed by the egg yolk, butter and vanilla extract, and stir to mix everything very thoroughly, still keeping the heat very low. When it is all heated through – after about 2 minutes – remove from the heat and pour the mixture into the ramekins.
Leave them to cool completely, then cover with clingfilm and chill till needed.
To make the gooseberry and elderflower purée, simply place the gooseberries and sugar in a saucepan over a very gentle heat. Cover with a lid and allow the gooseberries to come up to simmering point to release their juices.
Cook for 5-6 minutes or until the skins are soft.
Then put the whole lot into a blender and whiz to a purée, or else press through a nylon sieve. When cool, stir in the cordial, then cover and chill till needed. 
To turn out the rice creams, slide a small palette knife round the edges and ease away from the sides using your finger. Invert on to small serving plates by giving a hefty shake. 
Serve with gooseberry and elderflower purée poured over, and garnish with sprigs of mint.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Chocolate Bars with Caramel, Cherries & Hazelnuts

Chocolate Bars with Caramel, Cherries & Hazelnuts 

This is such an unbelievably moreish recipe. I'd suggest if you attempt to make it to box half of it up and place in the freezer as you'll not be able to leave it alone if it's at hand

I used a 9"x9" 23cmx23cm  deepish baking tray 
you could use a Swiss roll tray 8x12" but the bars will be thinner
Oil & line the trays with some parchment paper

Set the oven to 160c/325f/gas 3

The Recipe will make around 32 bars

if you prefer to measure your ingredients rather than weigh them here is a detailed  Conversion Chart

The chocolate cake base 
8oz/225g plain flour
2oz /50g good quality cocoa powder (sieve these two together)
7oz butter or margarine
2 beaten eggs
11oz/300g caster sugar

melt the butter in a saucepan, add the sugar and mix to disolve. remove from the heat
Stir in the cocoa & flour  add the eggs mix well.
Pour into the prepared tray, even out  and bake for around 20 mins until it's firm to the touch. Leave to cool while you make the caramel.

The Caramel Centre
a tin of condensed milk 397g
3oz/75g caster sugar
4oz /125g butter
2tbsp golden syrup 
3oz/75g roasted hazelnuts,( if you don't like cherries just use 6 oz hazelnuts)
3oz/75g glace cherries or perhaps raisins, dried cranberries or what ever you have

Melt the butter, condensed milk, sugar & syrup over a low heat, bring to a slow boil & keep stirring it on & off for around 10 minutes or so. Just watch it like a hawk or it could burn. It should be a lovely golden brown colour. Add the hazelnuts & cherries and pour onto the cooled cake.

For the Chocolate top
2oz/50g butter
7oz/200g good quality dark chocolate broken into small pieces
Pour boiling water into the bottom of a saucepan
Put the chocolate & butter into a bowl
Place on the top of the boiling water. 
Stir occasionally until they are both well combined and of a runny consistency

When the cake is completely cooled pour over the chocolate. Leave to cool until set. This is best done in a fridge for an hour or so. Cut into squares or bars. This will freeze brillantly or keep it for around a week in a tupperware box in the fridge

Monday, 27 February 2017


Crumpets for Tea

So, very easy you won't want to buy another one

This recipe will make 20 crumpets

 Equipment:- you'll need 4 x 7cm metal ring moulds or pastry cutters
a griddle or heavy non stick frying pan


175g / 12oz ( 3 cups) plain (all purpose flour)
half tsp caster sugar
half tsp salt
1 tsp fast acting dried yeast
300ml / half a pint of tepid water (1¼cups)
300ml/ half a pint of tepid milk  (1¼ cups)
sunflower oil for greasing the rings
put the flour, sugar, salt & dried yeast into a large bowl and mix well together

Make a well in the centre of the bowl and pour both liquids into it.

Bring the flour in from the sides and mix until a smooth batter is formed

Cover with cling & leave in a warm place for around 45mins to 1 hour. You should see bubbles rising on the top of the batter.

Beat well for two minutes.>
put the griddle/frying pan on a moderate flame.
Grease the ring moulds and place in the pan to heat through.

Pour approximately 3/4 of an inch/2cms of the batter into each mould
Cook for around 5-7 mins, the tops should have crumpet type holes in it and it should be almost dry to the touch.
Turn them over, push the crumpet down in the ring so it makes contact with the pan. Cook on for around a minute until the crumpet starts to brown.
Transfer to a cooling rack.
Repeat for the next batch making sure you grease the moulds each time.
Toast as needed serve hot with lashings of butter, you can add jam, Marmite
 lemon curd or poached eggs.
These will freeze really well. Just take out the crumpets and toast from frozen.      
Crumpets for Tea

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Shepherd's Pie made with Lamb /Cottage Pie made with Beef

Comfort food at it's very best. The good old British classic,  savoury mince-meat, topped with creamy mashed potatoes.  We usually serve this dish with either pickled beetroot or pickled red cabbage.    

All the pies use the same ingredients except for the stock.

If you haven't got homemade stock then just choose the appropriate stock cube to make around half a pint 
This recipe will produce 4 good helpings
1lb good quality lean mince either lamb or beef
2 large onions finely diced
2 cloves garlic minced
3 medium carrots diced ( you could also add some peas towards to end of cooking)
2 celery sticks diced
1 bay leaf
1 stock cube (see above)
1 tbsp Worcester sauce.
1 tbsp tomato puree
Salt & black pepper to season
cornflour to thicken to a rich but not too thick filling
for the mash:-
2lb good mashing potatoes eg King Edwards
1 beaten egg
Salt & pepper
Hot milk to bind
you can add some chopped chives or spring onions to before topping the pie.
Place the mince in a hot frying pan with a small amount of oil
Brown well, put aside
reduce the heat add the onions & celery & sweat down.
Transfer to a saucepan.
Add the carrots & stock, tomato puree & bayleaf & bring to the boil
Reduce the heat & simmer for around an hour.
Add the Worcester sauce, check the seasoning.
Add a little cornflour mixed with water, the sauce should be rich but not at all runny or thick. 
Remove the bay leaf.
The mash. I usually make this first and leave to cool so that I can pipe it but don't bother if you'd prefer to pile it on top of the mince and just fork it over. 
chop the potatoes into chunks
cover with salted water.
Boil until soft (around 15 -20 mins)
Mash with plenty of butter, add a little milk or cream & beat until light but  thick & smooth (you must do this by hand & not in a machine as it will turn into a horrible slop)
Add the beaten egg & beat again
You can add some chopped chives now.
Check the seasoning.
Place the cooked mince into a deep dish approx 12" x 6" or something similar
Top with potatoes by placing equal spoonfuls around the dish then fork together or pipe the potatoes as I did.
Hot oven 200C / 425F for around 30 mins or until the top is lovely & golden and the filling bubbling hot.
Serve with pickled red cabbage, pickled beetroot & HP sauce  

Shepherds Pie/Cottage pie

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Orange Polenta Cake Gluten and Dairy Free

What better a way to spend a rainy afternoon than to do a spot of baking.  What to bake was the question.  I had a few oranges in the fruit bowl and noticed a packet of polenta in the cupboard so the idea was set and an Orange & Polenta cake was on the cards.

This is the most easiest of recipes as you will see later.  The longest part is waiting for the oranges to soften and cool then it's downhill all the way.  The batter is made by just simply mixing all the ingredients together which I then poured into the tin and baked. Don't worry as the batter is very liquid but it bakes perfectly.  The lush soaking syrup can be made whilst the cake is baking.

The cake has a wonderful texture, a delightful little grainy bite but oh so moist and intensely orangey.
Grand Marnier is an optional addition  but makes it fabulous for a dinner party dessert especially if served warm with Thick Creamy Greek Yoghurt, whipped cream or Mascapone     

The Cake Ingredients:-

150 gms Polenta
150 gms Ground Almonds
250 gms Caster Sugar  
2 large oranges
6 large eggs

The Soaking Syrup :-

100 gms Caster sugar
100 ml water
2 large oranges
an optional 2-3 tbsps Grand Marnier  

You will need to grease and line a 21 cm / 8½ inch baking tin 


Add 2  oranges to a pan of water, bring to the boil and simmer until the skins are soft (approximately 30-40 minutes)

 Drain off the water, leave to cool slightly, remove any seeds then blitz until a paste is formed

Leave to cool 

Add all the other cake ingredients to a mixing bowl along with the pulped orange and mix well together

 Pour into the prepared baking tin.  The batter is fairly runny but don't worry.

Bake in a pre-heated oven 180C / 160c for a fan oven  Gas mark 4  ( US 350 F)

Mine took exactly an hour in my fan oven set to 160c /350F but check with a skewer after 45/50 minutes. If it comes out clean then it's baked through. Leave to cool for 10 minutes or so.  Skewer the cake all over the top ready for the soaking syrup.

Whilst the cake is baking make to soaking syrup.  Add the remaining sugar and 100 ml water to a pan bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.  Add the orange zest & juice from one orange and thinly slice the remaining orange and add to the pan. At this stage you can add the optional Grand Marnier.  Continue simmering for just a few minutes. Until the orange slices are softened but not falling apart.

Carefully remove the cake from the baking tin taking off the baking parchment before placing on your serving dish

Spoon over the syrup, (there's quite a lot but the cake will soak it up)  and arrange the orange slices around the cake.

Just before serving sprinkle with a little icing sugar

I served mine whilst still warm with a dollop of delicious thick Green Yoghurt but it would be perfect with whipped cream or mascarpone cheese