My day always kicks off with a strong cup of coffee, it is my one vice that I simply can’t do without. I love the ritual of making it, packing the coffee grounds into my percolator and then waiting the five minutes for it to brew whilst the blissful aroma fills my kitchen. The only downside is that I have a tendency to gulp the coffee down in a matter of minutes before dashing out of the door to catch the train to work.
At the weekend when time is not of the essence a lazy brunch with lots of coffee is how I like to start my day before heading out to walk Oscar up on Wimbledon Common. The recipe below is a fantastic brunch option that is very simple to make and absolutely scrummy. If you are efficient it can be prepped and on your plate in under 10 minutes.
The key to this recipe is not over cooking your poached eggs so that the yolk is still runny when you cut into it and creates a beautifully rich sauce. In essence poaching an egg is very straight forward, however sometimes it takes a couple of tries to work out the timings. My tip for poaching an egg is to put a ¼ teaspoon of vinegar in the poaching water and make sure that the water is simmering whilst the egg is cooking not boiling.
This is a fantastic recipe full of vibrant colours that is a great way to start your weekend. Enjoy!
Mid-week entertaining can be a little bit tricky as you want to be able to talk to your guests instead of being tied to the kitchen. For this reason when I have friends over in the middle of the week I tend only to cook meals that can bubble away gently in the slow cooker whilst I am at work, or that I can prepare in advance. This week I had three friends over for supper on Wednesday, and knowing that time would not be on my side that evening I went for the prepare in advance option.
It was my housemate’s boyfriend that first got me into making Dhansak curry and I am delighted that he did! Dhansak is a lentil based curry that is ever so slightly sweet and can be spiced up according to your own preference. If prawns are not your thing, substitute with chicken thighs (de-skinned but preferably still on the bone to enhance the flavour) – just add them to the curry at the same time as the lentils and they will poach in the liquid.
One of the great advantages to this type of curry is that it all made in one pot, which saves on washing up – WIN! I would strongly recommend giving this recipe a go as it is both hearty and fresh tasting, and dare I say it much tastier than a takeaway curry… Enjoy!
I think it is fair to say that summer is on its way and about time too! I am pleased to report that I am writing this blog from the comfort of my garden table with my new puppy ‘Oscar’ dozing at my feet… Bliss!
Last weekend, with the weather being so glorious, there was a definite need for fresh and healthy food. I really enjoy Asian style salads as they are fragrant and crunchy. I often vary how I serve the salmon when I cook it in this way, for example if I am looking to eat something more substantial then I replace the salad with egg noodles and serve with pak choi or I add it to a stir fry using the juices of from the fish to form the sauce.
This recipe is good irrespective of whether you serve it hot or cold and takes very little time to prepare. If you are looking for a recipe that can be made in advance to be served at a summer lunch party then this is a great little option. Or if you are having a barbecue and are looking to cater for the non meat-eaters – again this recipe comes into its own as the salmon is cooked in tin foil and can be cooked alongside the meat (just remember that the cooking time will vary depending on the heat of your barbecue). Enjoy.
Last Easter my brothers and I met up in Yorkshire for a weekend of walking, eating and sampling one or two of the local drinks… Unbeknownst to my brothers I decided that we needed to balance out the gluttony of the weekend with a healthy meal. Now, for those of you that know my brothers you will appreciate that a mackerel salad would not be their first choice, so much so that when I first told them that mackerel salad was on the menu for Sunday lunch they quickly suggested a walk to the pub for a pre-lunch beer, which then led to another and another … it is safe to say that the mackerel salad did not happen that day.
However the following day there was no escaping the Mackerel salad as I prepared it before the boys were up. I suppose you are wondering why I persisted with the Mackerel salad, well first up despite the boys protests I was pretty sure they would like it. Secondly, I wanted to see if it was enough of a meal to stop them feeling hungry. The good news is that the boys were both pleasantly surprised and full, thanks to this protein rich salad. Win!
The recipe below, serves one person, but can easily be multiplied to cater for more. As with any salad you can chop and change the ingredients according to what you have available. If you are entertaining / hosting a dinner party then I would suggest serving as a starter and reducing the quantities by half. If however you are having friends over for lunch then adapt the recipe to cater of the right number of people and present on a large platter so that people may help themselves.
Alternatively if you are looking for a packed lunch ideas, this salad can be made up the night before and stored in a Tupperware. My only advice if you do this: (1) do not quarter the boiled egg until you are ready to eat; and (2) keep the vinaigrette separate in a little jar to prevent the salad going soggy overnight.
Preparation time: 10 mins
1 smoked mackerel fillet
1 handful of mixed salad leaves
¼ avocado (diced into cubes)
5-6 cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 small piece of carrot (peeled and cut into strips using a potato peeler)
1 small piece of cucumber (peeled and cut into strips using a potato peeler)
1 small piece of red pepper (thinly sliced)
5 black olives (stoned and halved)
2 slices of stale baguette
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1tsp fresh dill (chopped)
salt and pepper
Note: the quantities for the vinaigrette will be enough for 4 people.
First prepare your croutons: slice the stale baguette into cubes, place in a baking tray and drizzle over a little olive oil (roughly 1 tablespoon) – make sure that each side of the bread has a little oil on it. Place in a preheated oven on at 190°C and bake for roughly 7- 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Next prepare the soft boiled egg: place an egg in a saucepan with a little salt and cover the egg with boiling water. Boil the egg on a medium heat for 6 minutes, then pour away the boiling water and fill the saucepan with cold, set to one side and leave to cool for a couple of minutes.
Whilst the egg and croutons are cooking prepare your salad: place the salad leaves on a plate to form a base, add the carrot, cucumber, red pepper, cherry tomatoes, avocado and olives.
Remove the skin from the smoked mackerel and place on top of the salad and scatter over the croutons.
Prepare your vinaigrette: pour the lemon juice into a jam-jar, add an equal amount of olive oil, the dill and salt and pepper. Shake well.
Finally peel your egg and carefully cut into quarters (the yolk will be runny) add it to the salad, before pouring over a little of the dressing. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Ladies and Gentlemen I am back! Each Friday going forward I am going to endeavour to post some new recipe ideas for you. So watch this space!
Today I have whipped up three different pâtés any one of which would make a great little starter if you have friends popping over, or as a light lunch with some salad or other nibbly bits. The first pâté was mackerel pâté which is a personal favourite of mine. Mackerel pâté takes a matter of minutes to make and is scrummy served on fresh bread, melba toast or even that 70s throw back a vol-au-vent.
Second up is a vegetarian option, roasted red pepper and olive pâté which requires a food processor to blend the cream cheese and red pepper together. This pâté is wonderfully light (a result of blitzing the cream cheese in the food processor) and the red pepper gives it a slightly piquant but sweet flavour. If you are tempted to blend all the ingredients together I wish to warn you that the olives will give the pâté somewhat grainy texture.
Last but by no means least duck and orange pâté, it involves a bit more effort to make but is a good contrast to the other two pâtés. To make this pâté perfectly smooth after putting it through the food processor you will need to pass it through a sieve. If you do not mind having a slightly course pâté than I would suggest that you skip this part of the recipe…
Today has been a great day I have been cooking up a storm in the kitchen with a good friend of mine. The original plan was to make cheese which we duly did whipping up paneer within a couple of hours, but then it developed in to a fully blown cooking session where we made a fish curry from scratch, hummus, saag paneer and flat breads – it was an EPIC morning of cooking!
Squash and pumpkin are in season at the moment and are at their best, so make sure you use them in your cooking whether it be in a soup or roasted with your Sunday lunch. The pumpkin in this recipe replaces the need for rice and acts as a bowl for the curry making it a fun meal to eat. Don’t worry if you can only get a hold of a large pumpkin just use it as a serving bowl for the centre of the table instead.
The inspiration for this meal came from a restaurant that I used to go to from time to time in Hong Kong which used to serve their Thai red curry in a pumpkin. It is something that I have wanted to try for a long time so when a friend’s mother gave me a blue pumpkin a few weeks ago I knew exactly what I was going to do with it.
The recipe for the curry paste should be treated as guidance rather than fixed amounts. The reason for this is that you need to adjust the amounts to reflect your own palette and the intensity of the flavours of the ingredients that you are able to get. For example, if you use a particularly hot chilli you may only want to add a little at a time until you get the spice level that you are looking for. This recipe makes enough curry paste for a curry to serve eight people, so make sure that you only use what you need and then freeze the rest of the paste in an ice tray so that you can you the paste for future curries.
With respect to what fish you use it really boils down to what you prefer, I would recommend that you use quite a meaty white fish for example, cod, haddock or monkfish. One other thing if you can use fresh fish rather than frozen do, the reason for this is that frozen fish has a tendency to break down during the cooking process far more than fresh fish.
Fish curry served in a pumpkin (serves 2)
5/6 garlic cloves
1 scotch bonnet chilli
2 lemongrass sticks
1 large bunch fresh coriander (use both the stalks and leaves)
Juice of 1 lime
Zest of 2 limes
6” ginger (peeled)
3/4 tbsp fish sauce
100g fresh pineapple (peeled)
1 tbsp sesame oil
3/4 tbsp olive oil
Place the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until you have a paste consistency. (Make sure that you add the ingredients a little at a time and adjusting how much you use of each ingredient according to your own personal taste.)
Note: remember to freeze the curry paste that you don’t need.
For the curry:
2 small pumpkins
2 cloves of garlic (no need to peel)
3/4 heaped tbsp of the curry paste
300g haddock (skinned and cut into inch chunks)
½ a can of coconut oil
Preheat your oven to 190C Fan.
Prepare the pumpkins by levelling the bottom of the pumpkins so that they sit comfortably on a roasting tray and cut of the top of the pumpkins to create a lid.
Do not de-seed the pumpkins at this point, you do this once it is cooked.
Place a garlic clove in the centre of each of the pumpkins (you made need to cut a slight hole in the pumpkin to do this) and drizzle over a little olive oil then place the ‘lid’ back on top of the
Place the pumpkins on a roasting tray that has been lined with tin foil and cook in the oven for 45-60 mins or until the pumpkin is cooked.
Whilst the pumpkin is cooking prepare the curry paste and the fish.
Once your pumpkin is cooked, remove the garlic clove and de-seed the pumpkin being careful to not scrape through the bottom of the pumpkins.
Place the pumpkins on the plates that you intend to serve them on. You made need to use a little
of the cooked pumpkin to plug any holes in the bottom of the pumpkin to prevent the curry from leaking out of the bottom.
Once you have finished preparing the pumpkins make your curry.
Place the curry paste in a frying pan and heat. Add in the fish and prawns and stir.
After a couple of minutes pour in the coconut milk and cook for roughly 5 minutes until the fish is cooked.
Spoon the curry into the pumpkins and serve. Enjoy!
I am back in France at the moment at my parent’s house and it is bliss, not only has the weather been magnificent but a lot of fruit and vegetables are in season at the moment which means every meal has been a delight! I think lunchtime is my favourite meal as it always starts off with a little melon served with some of our home reared cured ham, followed by a huge salad a cheese board that is to be envied and to finish apricots picked straight from the tree. Food does not get much better than that!
As it is the perfect weather for a BBQ yesterday morning I headed to the market to see what I could find to cook for supper. I ended up coming back with various bits and bobs but the two things that I was most pleased about were the prawns and samphire which I was going to use to make a very simple starter. For those of you who have not come across samphire before it is a sea vegetable that grows abundantly on shorelines. It has a crisp texture and a delicate salty yet slightly buttery flavour which means it works beautifully with seafood.
The idea of this starter is to let the prawns and the samphire do all the talking and to keep it very simple. Provided your BBQ is hot and ready to cook on this starter takes roughly 10 minutes to make and there is really nothing to it all you need is a few skewers and a little tin foil.
BBQ prawns with steamed samphire (serves 3)
350g raw prawns
a knob of butter
3 wedges of lemon (to serve)
(1) Wash the samphire and then place on a sheet of tin foil with the butter, create a parcel out of the tin foil and set to one side until you are ready to place it on the BBQ.
(2) Wash your prawns then place them on to a wooden skewer (2-3 prawns on each skewer). Note: always soak wooden skewers in water for about an hour to stop them burning when you place them on the BBQ.
(3) Once your BBQ is hot enough to cook on, place your tin foil parcel on the BBQ and let it cook for 5 minutes before you place the prawn skewers on the BBQ, cook on each side for about 3 minutes or until the prawns have turned pink.
(4) As soon as your prawns are cooked, serve the prawns and samphire with a wedge of lemon. Enjoy!