Category Archives: salad

Griddled nectarine, coppa and gorgonzola salad (Serves: 1 – Preparation time: 10 minutes)

I have many fond childhood memories of summer holidays spent in Italy visiting my Aunt and Uncle. Many hours would be spent searching for the tortoises in my uncle’s vegetable patch between the most delicious al fresco lunches and suppers.  I think it was during these visits that I first encountered the delights of Italian cured meats and of course Gorgonzola.  Every day platters cheese, freshly sliced salami, Parma ham and Coppa  would be piled on a long trestle table along with bowls filled with slices of melon, tomato salads, bread and other delicious bits and bobs and we would eat to our heart’s content.

This salad recipe is a nod to those summer days in Italy.  For those of you that are less familiar with Coppa it is a type of salami made using the part of the loin of pork that is taken near the neck which is cured and marinated in red wine a garlic.  It is traditionally served raw, cut into thin slices though it can also be used as bacon in recipes.  You can find Coppa in most Italian delicatessens, however, if you aren’t able to find it then I would substitute with Serrano Ham.

This recipe is a lovely balance of flavours and textures which for me evokes the tastes of summer and is definitely one to try.  The recipe makes enough for 1 person, so multiply the ingredients as required.  Enjoy!

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Asian salmon salad (serves: 2 – cooking time: 15 mins)

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.

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Mackerel salad (serves 1 – preparation time 10 mins)

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.

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Mackerel salad 
Serves: 1
Preparation time: 10 mins

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 1 smoked mackerel fillet
  • 1 egg
  • 1 handful of mixed salad leavesDSC_0461.JPG
  • 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
  • Olive oil

Vinaigrette:DSC_0467.JPG

  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Olive oil
  • 1tsp fresh dill (chopped)
  • salt and pepper

Note: the quantities for the vinaigrette will be enough for 4 people.

Steps:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Remove the skin from the smoked mackerel and place on top of the salad and scatter over the croutons.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

Thai beef salad

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Last year I bought a couple of new “toys” for my kitchen, namely, a food processor and a slow cooker and they have been invaluable!  I mentioned in my last blog that I have been throwing a number of dinner parties recently and half of the meals that I have been making really would not have been possible if I did not have these two appliances for a mid-week dinner party.

I use my slow cooked to make all manner of things, ranging from pulled pork, rice pudding, tagine, curry and stews.  I suspect you are thinking that these are really winter dishes and to an extent you are right, but there really are some lovely summer dishes that you can make in your slow cooker, for example this Thai Beef Salad.

I use my food processor to make anything from, hummus, cakes, pastry, coleslaw, focaccia to mackerel pate.  Yes I admit it is a pain to wash up but it saves me masses of time in terms of preparation.   If you can afford to get one and have space in your kitchen to it is a worthwhile investment!

I am a huge fan of Vietnamese and Thai food and their fresh and fragrant flavours.  This salad is a flavour explosion and has so many things going on at any one time ranging from sharp, spicy and sweet, to tangy, smoky and cool.

The key to this meal is in the preparation and forward planning, I cook the meat overnight, so that it may cool whilst I am at work during the day. The dressing can be made in advance as it will keep over several days and will just need to be shaken up just before serving. Then it is simply a case of preparing the salads, which if you can use a food processor really takes no time at all.

It may look like a lot of effort to make this salad, however, I cannot recommend it enough.

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Thai beef salad (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

  • 650 – 750g beef brisket (cut into 1” chunks and any sinew and fat removed)
  • 500-750g thin fresh rice noodles

Beef marinade:

  • 2″ ginger (peeled and grated)
  • 1 chilli (finely sliced)
  • 150ml light soy sauce
  • 5tbsp honey
  • 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1tbsp hot sauce (or sweet chilli sauce)

Mixed Salad:IMG_3659

  • 4 carrots (peeled and finely sliced)
  • 8 large radishes (finely sliced)
  • 1 cucumber (peeled, halved and de-seeded, then cut into slices)
  • 2 large mangoes (peeled, de-stoned and cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 5/6 spring onions (roughly chopped)
  • 1 large handful sugar snap peas (roughly chopped)
  • 1 sweet red pepper (sliced)
  • 1 handful mint (roughly chopped)
  • 2 handfuls coriander (roughly chopped)
  • 1 small bunch chives (roughly chopped)
  • 2 limes (cut in wedges)

Green Salad

  • 1 Romaine lettuce (roughly sliced)
  • 2 bags mixed salad/stir fry leaves (ideally a combination spinach, kale and pak choi)

Dressing:IMG_3664

  • 5/6 tbsp Hoisin sauce
  • 2/3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 3 limes (juice)
  • 1″ ginger (peeled and grated)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tbsp hot sauce (or sweet chilli if you prefer)
  • 2/3 tbsp olive oil

Serve with:

  • Chilli (finely sliced)
  • Peanuts (roughly crushed in a pestle and mortar)
  • Prawn crackers

Steps:

Stage 1 – Slow cook beef

  1. Place the beef and all the ingredients for the marinade into a slow cooker.
  2. Put the slow cooker on a low setting and cook for around 6-10 hours stirring occasionally. You will know that the beef is ready when it is slightly caramelised and falls apart when you use two forks to shred it.
  3. When you are happy that the beef is cooked, remove from the slow cooker and place in a bowl, drizzle over some more honey and soy sauce (roughly 3tbsp of each) stir thoroughly and leave to cool completely.

Stage 2 – Salads

  1. Prepare the salads if you have a food processor use it to slice all of the vegetables finely.
  2. In a large bowl combine the, carrots, radishes, cucumber, sugar snap peas, mango, sweet red pepper, mint, chives and coriander. Garnish with the lime wedges.
  3. In another bowl mix together the green salad of the Romaine Lettuce and the mixed leaves.

Stage 3 – Dressing

  1. In a large jam jar shake together the dressing ingredients until they are completely combined.
  2. Add more soy sauce, Hoisin sauce or lime juice as required according to your own tastes.

Stage 4 – Noodles

  1. Just before you are ready to serve, shred the beef with two forks.
  2. Heat some oil in a large pan, then flash fry the noodles adding the beef to warm slightly in the last two minutes

Stage 5 – Serving

  1. To serve place some of the green salad on a plate.
  2. Add a spoonful or two of the mixed salad.
  3. Top with some of the beef noodles.
  4. Pour over a little dressing and add the chilli and peanuts according to your own tastes.
  5. Serve with some prawn crackers.

Warm goat’s cheese salad

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After a not too stressful trip back to the UK I am back in London.  I have been assured by the Old Man that Hetti (the puppy) is OK and demanding attention from anyone that will give it to her.  Meanwhile I have commenced the delightful task of job hunting…

Yesterday, evening on the request of my brother’s girlfriend I cooked a vegetarian supper.  As I have mentioned before my mind often turns blank when I have to think of a vegetarian meal.  I wanted to cook something relatively healthy, unfortunately that meant that anything involving pastry was out.  Also, I wanted to use up a couple of the leftovers that were in the fridge.  After a little bit of thought I settled on the idea of a warm goat’s cheese salad.

The salad had a lovely combination of flavours and textures.  The goat’s cheese melted slightly due to the heat of the new potatoes and sugar snap peas and made the salad beautifully creamy.  It was filling and is definitely a good meal to have in reserve if you have a vegetarian over for lunch or supper.

Warm goat’s cheese salad (Serves 3)

Ingredients:

  • 200g soft goats cheese
  • 1 bag of baby leaf herb salad or lettuce
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  • 10-15 new potatoes (pre-cooked and cut into small cubes)
  • 12-15 cherry tomatoes (cut into quarters)
  • 3 beetroot (pre-cooked and cut into small cubes)
  • 1 handful of sugar snap peas (cut into small pieces)
  • 2-3 spring onions (cut into thin strips)
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • olive oil and balsamic vinegar (for dressing)
  • seasoning

Steps:

1.  Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and add the potato pieces, oregano and season well.  Cook on a medium heat until the potatoes are golden and crispy all over.

2.  Once the potatoes are almost cooked add the sugar snap peas and cook for a minute or so that they are warmed through.

3.  Dress your plates by place the salad leaves on the base then scattering over the tomatoes, beetroot, spring onions, potatoes and sugar snaps.

4.  Finally place slices of the goat’s cheese on top, drizzle over a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with some freshly ground pepper.  Enjoy!

Warm salad with pear and parma ham

After all the rich food that I have been ‘blogging’ about lately I felt it was about time to do something a little healthier…  This recipe is a great starter that looks good and takes about 5-10 minutes to prepare.  The chicory/endive gives the salad slightly sharp taste and a nice crunchy texture, whilst the warmed and slightly caramelised pear counters that sharpness adding sweet undertones.  There is not much else that can be said about this dish other than give it a go…

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Warm Salad with Pear and Parma Ham (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 pears (sliced lengthways roughly 3mm in thickness)DSC_0274 (3)
  • 8 slices of Parma ham
  • 3 spears of chicory/endive (finely sliced)
  • knob of butter
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tsp brown sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • pepper (to season)

Steps:

1.  Place the butter and oil in a frying pan and heat.

2.  Once the butter has melted add sugar and stir until it dissolves.

3.  Add the pears to the frying pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, turning them over after about a minute.

4.  Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for a further minute stirring gently being careful not to break up the pears.

5.  Then plate up – place chicory at bottom of each plate, add the pears, drape over two slices of Parma ham and drizzle over the juices from the pan.

6. Finally season with a little pepper and serve.

Side dishes

As ever it has been a busy couple of days picking the apples, pears, plums off the trees ‘squirreling them away’ as my father says, ready for the winter months.  During this time I have been thinking about what to write about and have fallen on the subject of side dishes.  There is absolutely no way I can cover this huge food area in just one blog, so I have decided I will give ideas for various side dishes over a series of blogs over the course of the next couple of months.

For me side dishes are just as important as the centre piece that makes up any meal – because they can be the thing that makes or breaks a meal.  At the moment we are eating a whole host of different types of salads and couscous dishes because they are fresh and tasty.  However, I am looking forward to the start of autumn and the weather cooling slightly so that I can justify making potato dauphinoise (obviously with a healthy quantity in it), macaroni and cheese and roasted root vegetables…

For this blog I thought I would start with a couple of dishes that we often serve with a BBQ: Roasted Vegetable Couscous, Tomato and Red Pepper Salad and A Mixed Salad.

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