Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Prawns with Quick Pickled Cucumber

I hadn't made quick pickled cucumber for a while but it is absolutely delicious in a salad like this or accompanying a stir fry.  This is a sensational, light starter but you could make it more substantial by adding more vegetables or noodles.


I love the mixture of the soft, tangy pickled cucumber, the gentle spicing from the pickle and sweet chilli sauce and the hot prawns and crunch of peanuts.


Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Leftovers Soup

When I was a child, I used to really look forward to having turkey soup a the end of the Christmas celebrations.  My Mum used to make stock from the bones and it would just taste fantastic.  I never realised she was being thrifty.  I tend to have my leftovers soup a little earlier in the Christmas period but it is still just as delicious.


I've included chestnut stuffing in mine but you could include any sausagemeat based stuffing or miss it out completely.  Of course you could go the whole hog (sorry, bad pun) and use leftover vegetables as well.  I don't because leftover vegetables aren't quite so nutritious and if there is any soup left they won't be pleasant after another reheating.

Friday, 23 December 2016

20 Ways to save money on food

Christmas is nearly here and before the credit card statements come through, I wanted to share some frugal tips which don't feel all that frugal and may be worth keeping in mind over the holidays.


Make the most of your leftovers!

Poultry like chicken or turkey are brilliant to use up as leftovers.  I always make stock from the carcass and often make a pie in the days to come out of the leftover gravy, stock, meat and some vegetables.  It's also fantastic in curries.  Another top tip is to freeze the cooked meat in gravy or thickened stock to make a pie later on.


Saturday, 17 December 2016

Slow cooked lamb curry

This is a cracking frugal recipe which you could adapt to what you have available.  It makes the most out of quite a small amount of lamb.

If your lamb is on the bone, cook it in the curry bones and all and take them out later (if you like) as this improves the flavour.



Thursday, 15 December 2016

Chestnut and Mushroom Soup

I'd recently bought some cooked vacuum packed chestnuts and I had some chestnut mushrooms in my increasingly dwindling fridge stocks so an idea came to life to combine these most seasonal of ingredients.

The flavour of mushrooms is great but the slippery texture in a soup isn't ideal unless you combine it with something starchy.  I'm not a fan of potato in soups but I love using other vegetables to thicken soups and stews and why not chestnuts?


Chestnuts are a bit of a faff to prepare from raw which is why I used pre cooked ones here but they are bang in season and make this delicious, filling and thick soup which is a delight of wintery flavours and also smooth as silk.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Sea Bream Rice Bowl

Christmas and all of its rich food is approaching.  I think it's great at this time of year to be a bit more pared back in our food choices, perhaps not so many fatty meats and deep flavours so we appreciate the tastes of Christmas all the more when they come?  In some cultures it is traditional to fast until Christmas Day, I'm not proposing this as an idea but eating fish with spiced flavours does feel "right".


There is something I love about raw Asian style dressings like this added after cooking, the flavours are so fresh.

If you prefer you could cook fish fillets instead of baking the fish on the bone but personally I always think fish cooked on the bone is a bit better in flavour.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Stopping to rest before Christmas

I've had an imposed time of rest and reflection over the past few days.  After working too hard, sleeping too little and having a few issues at home, I eventually fell ill.  What at first seemed like a sudden and severe cold, led me to the out of hours GP seriously unwell.  Before I get jokes, no it wasn't Tinsel-itis.  Groan.

Christmas stress

When the GP handed me my prescription and told me to "rest and stay indoors." I admit there was part of me that thought  "Ok, well maybe a little bit of rest..." but soon realised I had no choice I was in so much pain and exhaustion.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Eat Your Greens Soup

Even with the addition of bacon, this soup is far too green to not be doing you some good.  This was an invention to use up a pack of spinach and baby kale which was approaching its use by date.


And a delicious invention it was!  Normally in spinach soups people add potato for some body but the only body and thickness in this lovely soup comes from the huge amount of leaves blended up.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Baked Chickpeas and Chorizo

I've always thought Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and Chorizo are such a lovely partner for each other and I often make variations of this baked dish throughout the year.


In late summer, chopped up courgette (zucchini) is great, tomatoes make a saucier addition.  You can use "cooking" chorizo sausages as well.

This might not sound appetising but go with me.  As the chorizo or sausages cook, they naturally let out some oils into the dish which coat the vegetables with paprika scented gorgeousness.  Trust me, this is great as a tapas dish, side dish or even a main.


Thursday, 24 November 2016

Broccoli and Anchovy Pasta

I realise this may not sound delicious to everyone but for the 5% of the population who are with me that both broccoli and anchovies are delicious, it's great!


If you're not keen on fish, don't discount anchovies because they tend to have a lovely savoury flavour rather than an overly fishy one like in this pasta dish.  They also work brilliantly with lamb.


Monday, 21 November 2016

Chicken in Sherry Sauce

Ah... sherry, beloved of Grandmas... boring eh?  NO!  Sherry rocks!  Forget your thoughts of cream sherries of your Grandma, it is a delicious fortified wine which can take you from deliciously dry and crisp Finos and Manzanillas, fantastic with tapas to Pedro Ximenez which is delicious as a dessert wine.  My favourite is those labelled as Solera taking some of the citrus fruitiness of Palomino with the sweetness of Pedro Ximenez.

So anyway... try it, I urge you.  A bit more about sherry at the end for those of you keen to learn more.

But in the meantime, sherry is often used in cooking in Spain but it's not normal to use the sweeter sherries in savoury dishes.  This was an invention of mine which might sound strange but it is delicious.  Imagine the stunning sweetness and depth of flavour of roasted onions and then you're getting the idea.



Sunday, 13 November 2016

Chorizo and Butterbean Soup

Soup season is definitely here.  When I get home at night in the dark a bowl of thick, hearty soup is definitely top of my list.  What's great about using pulses in soup is they naturally break down slightly as the soup cooks thickening it beautifully.


I've used butterbeans here but haricots would also be good.  All in all this takes about 20 minutes to cook, great when you need something quick after a hard day.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

What's in season in November?

I can't believe it's November already!  Where has the year gone?  At the start of November, you can just about convince yourself it's still autumn, by the end we could be into the first hard frosts or even snow and thoughts start to turn to Christmas preparations.



November is perfect for root vegetables and parsnips are first on my list.


Monday, 31 October 2016

Singapore Noodles

Woah!  Yellow!  Well there has to be turmeric in Singapore noodles, and how great is that for livening up a dark evening?

As far as I can tell, Singapore Noodles have nothing to do with Singapore.  They are probably a Hong Kong or even UK invention.  I suppose it makes sense in a way.  Having travelled in Singapore when I was younger, there is fantastic cuisine and a great melting pot of cultures and cuisines, particularly Malay, Chinese and Indian but Singapore Noodles?  Nope, didn't see it anywhere.


This dish though does make use of turmeric which is used commonly in Indian cookery.  If you believe the buzz on the internet, turmeric is the new health food as well.  Whether that's true or not, it gives the fantastic colour and a subtle earthy, almost slightly perfumed flavour.

There is some heat in this dish as I used hot chillis and extra for garnish, feel free to tone that down as this dish is more normally mild in flavour (but I just love chillis so I can't help it!)

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Roasted Parsnips

I'd always found roasting parsnips a bit hit and miss.  The problem is parsnips have a higher sugar content than potatoes so tend to burn a little more easily.  I've come up with a few ways to help reduce the risk of that happening and have lovely golden parsnips for your tea or Sunday Lunch.



Friday, 28 October 2016

Liven up your running in the winter

Winter is tough on the runner.  Waking up and getting ready for work is hard enough without trying to motivate yourself for a pre work pitch black run.  A warm bed is curiously tempting and it's easy to get into a running rut.

I'm no olympic athlete but here are a few ways I keep my exercise on track even when it's getting chilly outside.


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Leftover Chicken Curry

I don't always have a full roast for a Sunday Lunch and there are other great Sunday Lunch ideas out there for meals for singles or small families.  That said, when I do make the effort to have a roast, I always love the fact there are leftovers in the fridge.



After a day or so though you want something to mix it up a little and a curry is a great way.  Of course you can reach for a pre-made sauce or paste but this is easy, dirt cheap to make and absolutely delicious.  Even though the chicken has been cooked once before as you're fully cooking it again, I still had the leftovers the next day for lunch (cue jealous stares from colleagues!)


Friday, 14 October 2016

Lamb Koftas

Kofta are a great middle eastern and balkan dish normally made with lamb.  There are various versions across the region and I can't claim to any authenticity here, this is more from taste memory.  I've tried making Koftas around a skewer before and it is tricky to keep it on the stick if I'm honest.  I had an idea to make them into small patties and it worked.  The addition of bread as well made them lighter and softer.


This is a great starter or great in a wrap with salad, the yogurt dip and maybe a few chillis.


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Cod with Bagna Cauda Dressing

Bagna Cauda is a delicious if pretty unhealthy dressing / dip made with anchovies.  It also makes a delicious savoury sauce.



Saturday, 8 October 2016

Great ideas for Seafood Week 7-14th Oct

It's seafood week this week and it's a great opportunity to try something a bit different.


There are some special offers and events going on around the country, take a look at the Seafood Week website to find out more.

In the meantime, here are a few great recipes to get you going.

Beef and Mushroom Pie

Slow cooking is not the most obvious thing to do when cooking for one but actually the great thing about it is that it always freezes well and is adaptable.  You can serve as a stew or as an awesome pie like this.



Wednesday, 5 October 2016

What's in season in October?

October is here and it's one of my favourite months for produce in the UK.  There are still British soft fruits available from poly tunnels, the end of the blackberry season and crisp apples from the trees are still at their best.  While it's the end of one season it's also the start of the next and that wonderful golden period when so much local food is available is fantastic.


Kale

But this is when we start to get the cruciferous vegetables coming to the fore.  I am no trend follower, I've been eating kale for years.  Kale is just a more flavourful cabbage basically.  Rumours as to it's superfood status have been highly inflated in my opinion.

Great Cheap Eats (for students or just for saving cash!)

It's University time in the UK and millions of Freshers will be leaving home for the first time, armed with a saucepan, a frying pan and a magic marker to label up their food in the fridge.


A few lessons from my time at University (many) years ago...

  • There will always be someone who steals your food.  It's not worth getting too stressed about if you can.
  • Eat fresh stuff as much as you can.  If you live on tinned food, you will get run down.
  • Chinese supermarkets can be great places to stock up on pre made sauces.
  • Lentils are a great store cupboard stand by and mean however poor you are you can make soup or a curry.  
  • If you live in a shared house or flat, even if you don't cook together, suggest to your housemates you share staples like rice, pasta, washing up liquid etc, even big bags of potatoes.  Otherwise it gets a bit ridiculous and the economies of scale can make it all cheaper.
  • Nothing brings people together like food so batch cooking can be a way to make friends with new housemates if you offer them a bowl too.
  • A slow cooker might not be the most obvious bit of student kit but University was where I got into slow cooking because it makes the most of cheap cuts.

So here are a few recipes which will hopefully make your Mum smile that you've not completely fallen to bits and been unable to cope (even if you do go home to visit with bags of dirty washing.)


Thursday, 29 September 2016

Is what people eat anybody's business?

I read Kirstie Allsopp's "twitter row" about eating today.  For those of you who missed it, this is what was said:

So what happened next?  Predictably the world went mad.  Most of the responses were negative.  How very dare she comment on this?

Kirstie Allsopp Twitter Photo

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Monday, 19 September 2016

Chickpea and Spinach Curry

I make no claims to be an authentic Indian chef, but this is going to university time of year and it's also coming to the end of the month.  All of us could do with a decent curry recipe which costs pence and tastes great whether you're a meat eater, a vegetarian, a vegan, gluten free etc.


Saturday, 17 September 2016

Game stew

Now autumn feels like it's properly here.  I love summer but the first flushes of autumn with stews, pies, traditional puddings are like the coziness of coming home.  Autumn, season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, at the end moving into winter, the crisp cold, maybe snow.  The older I get the more I look forward to every season and everything it brings.


The dried mushrooms in this massively add to the flavour.  Without them, it wouldn't be the same, it wouldn't have the depth of flavour so I really would give it a go.

This was going to be a game pie and it would be fabulous to make into a pie filling if you prefer.  I was just too lazy and my son liked the smell of it so he wanted to taste it straight away (it was a hit with the 6 year old too!)


Sunday, 11 September 2016

My top 10 apple recipes

The apples on my tree are reaching their fantastic crisp ripeness.  There is nothing like a delicious crisp apple straight from the tree.

But apple trees can be prolific, even small ones but the joy is that apples are so versatile.  Great in salads and in cooking.  Here are a few ideas.



Friday, 9 September 2016

A cheeky antipasto of figs with blue cheese

I've just come back from Italy and the figs are just starting to ripen.  It made me think about blue cheese with fruit, sweet, sticky honey and the bitterness of walnuts.


Is it an antipasto?  Is it a dessert?  Is it a snack?  I suppose it could be any?  Either way it works.  Add some crusty bread or rocket to make it into more of a meal.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

What's in season in September?

Ah September... as we drift into this month summer starts to fade and become a distant memory.  If we're lucky in the UK we'll still have a few warm days but generally the cardies are going on and someone in the family starts looking wistfully at the heating controls.


But this month is also a season of bounty.  Everything from home gardens to hedgerows are groaning with produce.  The wild blackberries are still bountiful and what better than apples to have with them?

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Fruit and Pumpkin Seed Breakfast

I feel like I'm on a one woman mission to convince everyone that breakfast doesn't have to be cereal or toast.  This is my latest invention with some lovely pumpkin seeds.  I do love a breakfast which has layers of flavour and texture.  Pumpkin seeds add crunch and are a great source of fibre, protein, iron and magnesium.  Also you've had two of your 5 a day (or 7 a day) and you've only just opened your eyes.



Monday, 22 August 2016

Fish Soup with Gurnard, Mussels and Chunky Summer Vegetables

It feels so wrong to just call this "fish soup".  This is an awesome fish soup, a soup delicately flavoured with thyme, a touch of spice from chorizo and chunks of delicious fish and shellfish.  I'd had a hard day when I came up with this recipe.  A day where I needed to cook for myself something really good, something which would really make myself feel loved!

My idea started at the fish counter where there were a few mussels left at the end of the day.  Some fantastically fresh looking gurnard and an idea was born.



Friday, 19 August 2016

Smoked Salmon with Glazed Green Vegetables

I'd never tried lightly smoked salmon before.  This is sold as a fillet of salmon and unlike normal smoked salmon, it is intended to be cooked before eating.


Smokey flavours like smoked bacon are fabulous with vegetables like cabbage, peas and beans so I chose to pair them together in this very simple dish.


Thursday, 18 August 2016

Chinese Style Prawns with Green Beans

I currently have a glut of green beans.  My green beans or "French" beans have grown so rampant that the wigwam of canes currently supporting them has given up and they have sadly fallen over my slightly disappointing courgettes.  Nonetheless I'm still trying (and failing) to get the wigwam upright again but still getting a bounteous harvest from them.  Fortunately I am absolutely in love with fresh green beans.



Tuesday, 9 August 2016

How to keep up your exercise when away

It's holiday season and it's very easy to stop exercising at this time of year.  Either because it's too hot (it's never too hot to exercise) or because "I'm on holiday".  It's also felt like I've been away on business quite a lot recently which could make things more difficult to squeeze in a workout.  My view though is there is always a way to fit in a workout.  A combination of a little bit of preparation and some common sense and you can fit in a workout almost anywhere you are in the world.



Sunday, 7 August 2016

What's in season in August?

August is in full flow and the tomatoes and courgettes are still adorning our plates.  Also due to different methods of growing the UK strawberry season now extends far beyond Wimbledon fortnight but here are a few things coming into season now.



Friday, 29 July 2016

Paprika Halloumi Skewers

I love halloumi, the Cypriot cheese which keeps it's shape even when cooked and I decided to try a non traditional way to prepare it with more Spanish spicing.  It worked pretty well.



Thursday, 21 July 2016

Steak Salad with Mustard Dressing

I love steak and mustard is a lovely accompaniment to it.


I often make a salad dressing with mustard in it.  It's great because it not only helps the emulsification but also adds flavour.  In this, I ramped up the mustard even more to give a powerful punch.  Delicious it is too.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

It's too hot to exercise

It's too hot to exercise?  Stop using it as an excuse, there are ways to keep up your fitness when it's hot.  Here are some top tips to keep exercising even when the sun is out.



Monday, 18 July 2016

7 fruits and vegetables a day for 7 days - What did I learn?

The challenge

I'm now at the end of my experiment to eat 7 different fruits and vegetables in the UK Government recommended portion sizes (at least 80g) for 7 days.  In this I only counted fresh fruits and vegetables, pulses (for one portion a day) and frozen fruits and vegetables.



Sunday, 17 July 2016

Day 7 of 7 a day

My last day of eating 7 fruits and vegetables in a day.  It's been a journey.  I am thoroughly bored of my kitchen scales and the crushing realisation that, (a rare situation in modern life), my portion sizes were normally too small.

Still it's been a journey.



Saturday, 16 July 2016

Day 6 of 7 a day

6 days into my challenge to eat 7 fruits and vegetables a day for 7 days and over yesterday and today I've suddenly got far more energy than I had.  I would even go so far as to say, I'm feeling pretty healthy.

Breakfast

I started the day with my (now typical) breakfast of Skyr, this time with grapes and raspberries so only 2 of my 7.  Honestly, my fridge is looking a little bare.  This is one of the things I'm noticing that I have already shopped for fresh produce twice this week and I'm going to have to do so again.

Lunch

After a food shopping trip I had a simple Buddha bowl of rice, vegetables, prawns and Teriyaki sauce.  Believe it or not, this is only 2 portions of vegetables.  I know!  It looks so much doesn't it?



Friday, 15 July 2016

Day 5 of 7 a day

On the home straight now on my challenge to eat 7 different fruits and vegetables each day over 7 days.

Breakfast

Sorry to be dull but I started the day with my Skyr breakfast bowl again.  This time with grapes, blueberries and raspberries.  After a 6 mile run, I followed this up with a snack of an apple meaning I'd had 4 of my 7 before lunch.



Thursday, 14 July 2016

Day 4 of 7 a day

It's day 4 of trying to eat 7 fruits and vegetables a day; seeing if this is even possible and how it makes me feel.



Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Day 3 of 7 a day

There is something great about tomatoes at this time of year.  Anyway, more of that later.



Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Day 2 of 7 a day

Day 2 of eating 7 a day and first thing I was sat in my lounge thinking "what should I eat today?"  This challenge is both as interesting as it is daunting.

Breakfast

What to have for breakfast... more Skyr?  Yummy but... variety is key.


Today I've gone for my Bircher Muesli; this is a great way to introduce fresh fruit into a breakfast which would traditionally be made with only dried fruits and nuts.  If dried fruit counted in my challenge, this would be 2 of my 7, however, it's only 1.  Delicious nonetheless and a much better start than opening up a pack of cereal.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Day 1 of 7 a day

Day 1 of 7 a day.  How did it go?


Breakfast

I've recently discovered Skyr (Icelandic style yogurt).  This is really high in protein but pretty low in fat.


Sunday, 10 July 2016

7 days of 7 a day

I posted a while back about how eating 5 a day of fruit and vegetables is UK government advice, however that recent research has suggested 5 is not enough and 7 is what we should be aiming for.

I'm never keen on dieting, detoxing or any of that stuff but I occasionally like to set myself a challenge.  This is mostly to have a chance to rethink my diet, be less lazy about it all and actually think about what I'm eating.  So many of us pass life by in a daze of eating the same things we always do.  Well that's fine but if you eat the same things all the time, what makes your lunch today memorable?